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Big Ten Football: Ranking the Transfer Classes for 2022

Mel Tucker, Michigan State Spartans Football

The immediate eligibility rules and transfer portal have significantly changed how all 131 FBS college football teams build their roster, and several teams have made big-time pickups in the Big Ten. Michigan State successfully used transfer pickups to win 11 games last fall, and coach Mel Tucker went into the portal again for help on both sides of the ball. Outside of East Lansing, Nebraska was another big winner in the portal, while Indiana, Minnesota and Rutgers all brought in solid classes. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan combined to reel in just five transfers, but all three teams added potential high-level impact players. 

How do the transfer classes for the 2022 college football season rank in the Big Ten? Athlon Sports has ranked all 14 Big Ten teams by the biggest impact of its transfers for this upcoming year:

Big Ten Football: Ranking the Transfer Classes for 2022

1. Michigan State
Key Additions:
RB Jarek Broussard; RB Jalen Berger; TE Daniel Barker; DL/LB Khris Bogle; LB Aaron Brule; LB Jacoby Windmon; CB Ameer Speed

Key Losses: WR C.J. Hayes; WR Ricky White; TE Kameron Allen; TE Trenton Gillison; OL James Ohonba; DL Kyle King; DL Jack Camper; DL Tyson Watson; LB Cole DeMarzo; LB Chase Kline; CB Kalon Gervin; S Michael Dowell

The Spartans have successfully mined the portal for help under coach Mel Tucker and another strong class is on its way to East Lansing. Broussard and Berger are crucial additions to help replace Doak Walker Award winner Kenneth Walker III, while Bogle, Brule, Windmon and Speed should all be major contributors on defense.

2. Nebraska
Key Additions:
QB Casey Thompson; QB Chubba Purdy; RB Deondre Jackson; WR Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda; OL Hunter Anthony; OL Kevin Williams; CB Omar Brown; CB Tommi Hill; P Brian Buschini; K Timmy Bleekrode

Key Losses: QB Adrian Martinez; RB Marvin Scott III; RB Sevion Morrison; DL Jordon Riley; LB Will Honas; LB Jackson Hannah; LB Wynden Ho’ohuli

Nebraska’s offense will have a new look in ’22. Mark Whipple was hired to call plays, and with Adrian Martinez leaving for Kansas State, transfers Thompson or Purdy are set to push Logan Smothers for the starting job under center. Despite battling a thumb injury for most of ’21, Thompson paced the Big 12 in touchdown passes at Texas. Garcia-Castaneda is an intriguing addition after averaging 15.6 yards per catch at New Mexico State last fall. Improving the line is a priority for coach Scott Frost, and both Williams and Anthony fit the need for experience and talent. Brown was a standout performer in ’19 at Northern Iowa and collected 33 tackles before missing the rest of the year due to injury in ’21.

Related: Ranking the College Football Rosters for 2022

3. Indiana
Key Additions:
QB Connor Bazelak; RB Josh Henderson; RB Shaun Shivers; WR Emery Simmons; DL J.H. Tevis; DL Patrick Lucas; DL LeDarrius Cox; LB Jared Casey; LB Myles Jackson; LB Bradley Jennings

Key Losses: QB Michael Penix Jr.; RB Chris Childers; RB Davion Ervin-Poindexter; WR Miles Marshall; WR Jacolby Hewitt; TE Matt Bjorson; TE Khameron Taylor; DL C.J. Person; LB D.K. Bonhomme; LB James Miller; LB Ty Wise; DB Juwan Burgess; DB Reese Taylor

After a 2-10 record, it’s no surprise the Hoosiers hit the portal hard for instant help on both sides of the ball. Bazelak could win the starting quarterback job, with Shivers and Henderson likely to handle the bulk of the carries at running back. Six transfers were added to the defensive front and all should see major snaps in ’22.

4. Rutgers
Key Additions:
WR Sean Ryan; WR Taj Harris; OL Mike Ciaffoni; OL J.D. DiRenzo; OL Curtis Dunlap; OL Willie Tyler

Key Losses: QB Cole Snyder; TE Zukudo Igwenagu; OL Kevin Toth; OL Raiqwon O’Neal; OL Brendan Bordner; DL C.J. Onyechi; DB Alijah Clark; S Naijee Jones

Getting stronger in the trenches was clearly a theme by coach Greg Schiano this offseason. The Scarlet Knights have four transfers on the way, including Dunlap who started 16 games at Minnesota. Ryan and Harris boost a receiving corps losing its best player (Bo Melton).

5. Minnesota
Key Additions:
OL Chuck Filiaga; OL Quinn Carroll; DL Chris Smith; DL Lorenza Surgers; CB Beanie Bishop; DB Ryan Stapp

Key Losses: QB Zack Annexstad; RB Ky Thomas; RB Cam Wiley; WR Brady Boyd; TE Austin Henderson; OL Curtis Dunlap; DL Darnell Jefferies; DL Rashad Cheney; DL MJ Anderson; LB James Gordon IV; LB Jaqwondis Burns; K Jacob Lewis

The line of scrimmage was a focal point in the portal for the Golden Gophers. Carroll and Filiaga should push for starting roles with Minnesota losing four key cogs up front. Smith and Surgers reinforce a defensive line losing three starters, while Bishop arrives in Minneapolis after recording 43 tackles and three interceptions at WKU in ’21.

Related: Big Ten Early QB Preview and Rankings for 2022

6. Purdue
Key Additions:
RB Sampson James; WR Tyrone Tracy; WR Elijah Canion; OL Sione Finau; CB Reese Taylor; CB Tee Denson

Key Losses: QB Jack Plummer; RB Ja’Quez Cross; DL Bryce Austin; DL Anthony Watts; DL Dontay Hunter II; DL Jeff Marks; CB Anthony Romphf; CB Elijah Ball

Tracy and Canion are important acquisitions to restock the receiving corps with David Bell and Jackson Anthrop off to the NFL. James should add some pop to a ground game that managed only 2.8 yards per carry in ’21. Finau started 15 games at FIU. Denson and Taylor will be counted on to compete for snaps at cornerback with Dedrick Mackey off to the NFL.

7. Wisconsin
Key Additions:
WR Keontez Lewis; CB Jay Shaw; CB Cedrick Dort; CB Justin Clark; K Vito Calvaruso

Key Losses: RB Jalen Berger; WR Isaac Smith; WR AJ Abbott; WR Devin Chandler; OL Kayden Lyles; LB Izayah Green-May

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Scott Nelson, Collin Wilder, Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams departed the secondary this offseason, so it’s no surprise coach Paul Chryst looked for help through the portal. Clark, Shaw and Dort are all experienced, giving the secondary instant help for ’22. Lewis should push for snaps in a thin receiving corps.

8. Ohio State
Key Additions: LB DeaMonte Trayanum; DB Tanner McCalister

Key Losses: QB Quinn Ewers; QB Jack Miller; DL Cormontae Hamilton; DL Darrion Henry-Young; LB Dallas Gant; LB K’Vaughan Pope; CB Ryan Watts; CB Sevyn Banks; S Craig Young

The Buckeyes lost a couple of potential contributors on defense to the portal, but the addition of McCalister (Oklahoma State) bolsters a secondary that allowed 21 passing scores last year. Trayanum played running back at Arizona State but is moving to linebacker at Ohio State.

9. Michigan
Key Additions:
OL Victor Oluwatimi

Key Losses: QB Dan Villari; OL Chuck Filiaga; OL Nolan Rumler; LB Anthony Solomon; CB Andre Seldon; CB George Johnson III; CB Darion Green-Warren

The Wolverines lost a handful of players, but none were expected to be major contributors in ’22. Oluwatimi – a second-team All-ACC selection at Virginia – is a major addition to an offensive line having to replace a couple of key starters this year and is expected to fill the void at center vacated by Andrew Vastardis.

Related: Way-Too-Early College Football Top 25 for 2022

10. Penn State
Key Additions:
WR Mitchell Tinsley; OL Hunter Nourzad

Key Losses: QB Ta’Quan Roberson; RB Noah Cain; OL Des Holmes; DL Joseph Appiah Darkwa; DB A.J. Lytton; S Tyler Rudolph

The Nittany Lions have been relatively quiet in the portal this year, but Tinsley (87 catches for 1,402 yards) alleviates the departure of Jahan Dotson at receiver. Nourzad – a former FCS All-American and transfer from Cornell – adds competition to a shaky offensive line.

11. Maryland
Key Additions:
WR Jacob Copeland; LB VanDarius Cowan; K Chad Ryland

Key Losses: RB Peny Boone; RB Isaiah Jacobs; WR Brian Cobbs; WR Darryl Jones; WR Deajaun McDougle; WR Carlos Carriere; WR Dino Tomlin; WR DeJuan Ellis; OL Zach Perkins; LB Deshawn Holt; LB Branden Jennings; LB Terrence Lewis; S Osita Smith

Depth in the receiving corps took a hit with five potential contributors exiting College Park, but coach Mike Locksley added a potential big-time contributor in Copeland (41 catches at Florida in ’21). Ryland (19 of 22 field goals last year) has been one of the MAC’s top kickers over the last couple of seasons.

12. Northwestern
Key Additions:
WR Donny Navarro III; OL Vince Picozzi; DL Henrik Barndt; DL Taishan Holmes; DL Ryan Johnson; LB Wendell Davis; CB Jeremiah Lewis; P Luke Akers

Key Losses: QB Hunter Johnson; WR Jordan Mosley; OL Payne He’Bert; DL Terah Edwards; S Brandon Joseph

The Wildcats return only two starters in the front seven, so the addition of Holmes, Johnson and Davis should give coach Pat Fitzgerald’s defense much-needed depth. Akers averaged 43.1 yards per punt at UCLA last year. Navarro III caught 17 passes at Illinois last year.

13. Illinois
Key Additions:
QB Tommy DeVito; DL Terah Edwards; DL Alec Bryant

Key Losses: RB Jakari Norwood; WR Donny Navarro III; WR Deuce Spann; WR Jafar Armstrong; TE Daniel Barker; S Eddie Lewis

DeVito is a key addition for an Illinois offense that completed only 51.2 percent of its passes last year. The Syracuse transfer will battle Artur Sitkowski for the starting job this offseason. Edwards accumulated two tackles in two seasons at Northwestern. The loss of Navarro III, Spann, Armstrong and Barker took a chunk of depth away from the Fighting Illini’s receiving corps.

Related: Grading College Football's First-Year Coaches from 2021

14. Iowa
Key Additions:
None

Key Losses: QB Deuce Hogan; WR Tyrone Tracy; TE Josiah Miamen

The Hawkeyes have pursued a couple of players, but so far, coach Kirk Ferentz’s team hasn’t landed a transfer for ’22. Tracy caught 66 passes over four years at Iowa and departed for Big Ten West rival Purdue.

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