Which transfers will make the biggest impact this fall?
Transfers are a huge part of any college football season. Whether it’s a graduate transfer eligible right away or a player that sat out the previous year due to NCAA rules, impact players are available in the transfer ranks every year. A transfer could be a one-year stopgap solution or help a team fill a void for a couple of seasons after a few misses on the recruiting trail. The 2016 season features several players expected to make a significant impact for their new team, including quarterbacks Davis Webb, Trevor Knight, Dakota Prukop and Kenny Hill. The running back position also has its share of players on the move, as Keith Ford (Texas A&M), Duke Catalon (Houston) and Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State) rank among the top 20 impact transfers for this season. On defense, Miami's Gerald Willis and Illinois' linebacker Hardy Nickerson are two players expected to make a huge impact for their new team in 2016.
Which players will make the biggest impact at their new home this fall? Here’s a look at 100 key transfers (plus a few others) to watch this year:
College Football's Top 100 Impact Transfers for 2016
100. QB Faton Bauta, Colorado State (from Georgia)
Second-year coach Mike Bobo landed a familiar name from his old job to add depth to the quarterback position in 2016. Bauta transfers from Georgia to Fort Collins with an opportunity to push starter Nick Stevens for the starting job. Stevens earned second-team All-Mountain West honors and threw for 2,679 yards and 21 scores in 2015, so it won’t be easy for Bauta to earn the starting job. However, Bauta has good mobility, which could provide a different dimension for Bobo’s offense.
99. QB Tyler Matthews, New Mexico State (from Southern Miss)
New Mexico State is Matthews’ third stop at the FBS level. The Texas native has previous stints at TCU and Southern Miss, but he has only four appearances in his career. Matthews was regarded as a four-star prospect out of high school and is expected to push Tyler Rogers for the starting job.
98. QB Ricky Town, Arkansas (from USC)
Replacing Brandon Allen won’t be easy, but Arkansas seems to have a capable candidate in Austin Allen, along with good depth in the form of Town, Rafe Peavey and Ty Storey. Town was the highest regarded quarterback out of that mix, ranking as a four-star and top-100 prospect in the 2015 signing class. However, Town didn’t challenge for the starting job in the spring and is likely ticketed as the No. 3 or No. 4 quarterback to open fall practice.
97. RB Deontae Cooper, San Jose State (from Washington)
Knee injuries took a toll on Cooper at Washington, limiting him to just 122 carries from 2013-15. With Tyler Ervin departing, Cooper is expected to challenge Thomas Tucker and Malik Roberson for carries.
96. OL Jeremiah Stuckey, California (from Texas A&M)
The Golden Bears could have one of the Pac-12’s best offensive lines in place for 2016. Four starters are back, and the addition of Stuckey is another valuable option for depth or to push one of the returning starters for a job. After one year in the junior college ranks, Stuckey played in 14 games over three seasons with the Aggies.
95. TE Steve Donatell, WKU (from Wake Forest)
A WKU tight end has caught at least 30 passes in back-to-back seasons, and with Tyler Higbee out of eligibility, Donatell will have an opportunity to earn a starting spot.
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94. DB Bryson Echols, Arizona State (from Texas)
Echols played in 32 games during his tenure with the Longhorns and his arrival adds much-needed depth to an Arizona State secondary that ranked last nationally in pass defense in 2015.
93. OL Jordan Diamond, Miami, Ohio (from Auburn)
Miami is a team on the rise in the MAC, and coach Chuck Martin returns seven starters from an offense expected to show marked improvement in 2016. Four starters are back in the trenches, and the addition of Diamond – a former four-star recruit at Auburn – adds another potential starter and All-MAC contender for the RedHawks.
92. DL Earl Moore, Toledo (from Miami)
Moore recorded six tackles in 23 appearances at Miami from 2012-13. The Rockets are looking for three new starters up front, and it’s expected the Miami transfer will factor into the rotation.
91. DL Jelani Hamilton, Akron (from Miami)
Cody Grice and Rodney Coe will be missed on Akron’s defensive line, but the Zips boast the MAC’s top defensive end combination with the return of Jamal Marcus and Se’Von Pittman. Hamilton only played in nine games at Miami, but the former four-star prospect could play a huge role on the interior for coach Terry Bowden.
90. DL Gimel President, Illinois (from Auburn)
President accumulated 45 tackles and three sacks in three years at Auburn and is slated to factor into the defensive line rotation for new coach Lovie Smith. The Fighting Illini return three starters up front, but this unit needs more depth and overall talent after giving up 166.4 rushing yards a game in 2016.
89. TE Kalvin Cline, Texas A&M (from Virginia Tech)
The offseason departure of Jordan Davis opened the door for Cline to land at Texas A&M and play right away as a graduate transfer. He caught 30 passes in three years with the Hokies.
88. QB Conner Manning, Georgia State (from Utah)
Nick Arbuckle finished his Georgia State career in 2015 as one of the nation’s top Group of 5 quarterbacks. En route to earning first-team All-Sun Belt honors, Arbuckle threw for 4,368 yards and 28 scores last season. Manning is part of a three-man battle to replace Arbuckle after transferring from Utah. Manning played in only one game with the Utes and completed two of six passes for 28 yards in 2014. Sophomore Emiere Scaife and redshirt freshman Aaron Winchester will compete with Manning for the starting job in the fall.
87. QB Grant Rohach, Buffalo (from Iowa State)
With Grant Merchant transferring at the end of spring ball, Buffalo’s quarterback battle is down to Rohach and promising redshirt freshman Tyree Jackson. Rohach made five starts in three years with the Cyclones and finished his career in Ames with 1,491 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Rohach also has good mobility and figures to be a solid fit under second-year coach Lance Leipold and coordinator Andy Kotelnicki – if he can edge Jackson for the No. 1 spot.
86. RB Akeel Lynch, Nevada (from Penn State)
Lynch is expected to spell starter James Butler, giving the Wolf Pack one of the Mountain West’s top backfields for 2016.
85. WR/TE Chris Johnson, Houston (from Baylor)
Johnson began his career at Baylor as a quarterback and later transitioned to receiver before moving back under center as injuries took a toll on the Bears’ quarterback depth chart last season. The Texas native caught three passes for 37 yards last year and also accumulated 145 rushing yards in two seasons of snaps with Baylor. Johnson will be utilized as a hybrid receiver/tight end for the Cougars.
84. OL Jevonte Domond, UTSA (from LSU)
Domond joins former LSU assistant Frank Wilson at UTSA this fall. The Arizona native played in four games in two years with the Tigers after spending two seasons at Glendale Community College. Domond should push for a starting job on an offensive line that returns three starters.
83. LB Davon Durant, Marshall (from Arizona State)
Durant was regarded as one of the top junior college recruits in the 2015 signing class but was dismissed before playing a down with the Sun Devils. The South Carolina native sat out last year after transferring to Marshall and is expected to push for a starting job in the linebacking corps this fall.
Related: Conference USA Predictions for 2016
82. RB Trey Edmunds, Maryland (from Virginia Tech)
Maryland averaged 203 rushing yards in conference play last season, and there’s an opportunity for carries with the departure of Brandon Ross (958 yards). Edmunds recorded 957 yards and 13 touchdowns in three years at Virginia Tech, including 675 yards as a freshman in 2013.
81. DB Lamont Simmons, Georgia Tech (from USC)
Four starters in Georgia Tech’s secondary must be replaced this fall. Simmons – a transfer from USC – is expected to challenge for one of the starting jobs at cornerback. Simmons did not play a down at USC but ranked as a three-star recruit in the 2014 signing class.
80. OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, Akron (from Michigan)
Tuley-Tillman was a late June pickup for the Zips, and his decision to transfer to Akron is a huge boost for an offensive line that replaces all five starters in 2016. He was regarded as a four-star prospect coming out of high school and played in one game at Michigan.
79. CB Tee Shepard, Miami, Ohio (from Ole Miss)
Shepard’s career began at Notre Dame in 2012, but his stint in South Bend wasn’t long, as he transferred to Holmes Community College in 2013 and later bounced to Ole Miss in 2014. The California native missed 2014 due to injury and played in only five games with the Rebels in 2015. With one year of eligibility remaining, Shepard transferred to Miami, Ohio and has a chance to push for a starting spot in the RedHawks’ secondary this fall. - Update: Shepard decided to enter the NFL's Supplemental Draft in July.
78. DE De'Jon Wilson, Syracuse (from Colorado)
A young defensive line is one of the biggest concerns in 2016 for new coach Dino Babers. The addition of Wilson – a graduate transfer from Colorado – provides the Orange defense with an experienced option off the edge. In two years with the Buffaloes, Wilson recorded 19 tackles (two for a loss) and recovered one fumble.
Related: ACC Predictions for 2016
77. QB Zack Greenlee, UTEP (from Fresno State)
With Mack Leftwich sidelined for the 2016 season, Greenlee was a key pickup late in the spring for the Miners. In two years at Fresno State, Greenlee threw for 1,079 yards and 14 touchdowns to six interceptions. The California native did not transfer in time for spring practice but is expected to be locked into a tight battle with sophomores Ryan Metz and Kavika Johnson for the starting nod this fall.
76. QB Zach Allen, Rutgers (from TCU)
Quarterback play is one of the biggest areas of concern for new coach Chris Ash. Chris Laviano (2,247 yards) is the team’s top returning option, and Hayden Rettig also received action in five games last season. However, Rutgers has a new offense, and coordinator Drew Mehringer is looking for more running ability out of his signal-caller. Allen announced his intentions to transfer to the team in early June after three years at TCU. The Texas native was used some at receiver during his stint with the Horned Frogs and also completed two passes for 17 yards in 2014. Allen’s mobility should be a good fit for this offense, but the junior has a lot to prove as a passer.
Related: Big Ten Predictions for 2016
74/75. CB Jarrell Jackson (Hawaii)/Ronald Lewis (Arizona State) to Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech’s defense could have four FBS transfers in the starting lineup this season. In addition to linebackers Dalton Santos and Jordan Harris, Jackson and Lewis will push for starting jobs in the secondary. Lewis played in 11 games at Arizona State in 2014, while Jackson participated in three contests with the Rainbow Warriors.
73. TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe, USC (from Florida)
Imatorbhebhe spent one semester at Florida before departing for USC. The Georgia native was regarded as a four-star recruit in the 2015 signing class, and the 6-foot-4 target is another valuable weapon for a USC receiving corps that ranks among the nation’s best for 2016.
72. DL Nick Dawson-Brents, WKU (from Louisville)
With the departure of Gavin Rocker, Bryan Shorter and Jontavius Morris, WKU’s defensive line is in need of a few reinforcements this year. Dawson-Brents played in 37 games with Louisville and recorded 23 tackles over the last three seasons. Dawson-Brents was a four-star recruit out of high school and should make an instant impact for the Hilltoppers’ defense in 2016.
71. S Dallin Leavitt, Utah State (from BYU)
Utah State coach Matt Wells has plenty of voids to fill this offseason, as only three starters return on defense for 2016. However, the secondary is one unit Wells should have confidence in, as cornerback Jalen Davis and safety Devin Centers will challenge for All-Mountain West honors, with Leavitt also expected to step into the lineup after sitting out 2015 due to transfer rules. Leavitt played in 24 games at BYU from 2013-14 and recorded 60 tackles and two pass breakups.
70. QB Kurt Benkert, Virginia (from East Carolina)
Even though Virginia has a returning starter (Matt Johns), new coach Bronco Mendenhall wasn’t afraid of adding competition to boost the team’s overall talent level and depth at quarterback. Benkert was slated to start at East Carolina before a knee injury sidelined him prior to the 2015 campaign. In 2014, Benkert played in three games with the Pirates and completed 8 of 10 passes for 58 yards. Johns is still the favorite to start, but Benkert showed promise in limited snaps at East Carolina and adds competition for a rebuilding Virginia team this fall.
69. CB Kamryn Melton, Troy (from Auburn)
After two seasons at Auburn, Melton is making the short drive to Troy to finish his collegiate career. The three-star prospect in the 2013 signing class played in three games with the Tigers as a freshman and redshirted as a sophomore (2014). Melton is expected to start at cornerback for the Trojans this fall.
68. QB Chad Voytik, Arkansas State (from Pitt)
Fredi Knighten departs after a successful two-year stint as Arkansas State’s starter, but coach Blake Anderson has two promising options vying for the starting job. Junior college transfer (and former Oklahoma signal-caller) Justice Hansen and Pitt transfer Chad Voytik are set to battle for the No. 1 spot in the fall. Voytik started all 13 games for Pitt in 2014 and threw for 2,223 yards and 16 touchdowns and added 466 yards and three scores on the ground. Voytik lost the starting job at Pitt to Nathan Peterman in 2015 but is a key pickup for Anderson and the potent Arkansas State offense for 2016.
67. QB Ryan Finley, NC State (from Boise State)
Jacoby Brissett leaves big shoes to fill in Raleigh this season, and the Wolfpack exited spring with Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers locked into a tight battle for the No. 1 spot. However, McClendon and Meyers will have competition in the fall, as Finley is eligible as a graduate transfer after three years at Boise State. Finley redshirted in his debut with the Broncos and completed 58 passes for 646 yards and three scores over the next two years. Finley was slated to be Boise State’s starting quarterback in 2015 but was sidelined after the third game for the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury.
Related: ACC Predictions for 2016
65/66. RB Derrell Scott, Tennessee to ECU/Jeffrey Coprich, California to ECU
New coach Scottie Montgomery has plenty of talented skill players to work with in his debut with the Pirates. Scott (a transfer from Tennessee) and Coprich (a graduate transfer) will compete with Anthony Scott to form one of the deepest backfields in the American Athletic Conference.
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64. WR John Diarse, TCU (from LSU)
The quarterback battle between Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer will continue into fall practice. However, regardless of which quarterback starts for coach Gary Patterson, the new signal-caller will have one of the deepest groups of skill players in the Big 12. The move to Fort Worth should ensure plenty of targets in Diarse’s direction. After all, TCU attempted 517 passes in 2015, while his former team LSU recorded 277. Diarse caught 28 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns during a two-year stint with the Tigers.
64. OL Cory Helms, South Carolina (from Wake Forest)
New coach Will Muschamp has a major rebuilding effort on his hands with just seven total returning starters from last year’s 3-9 team. Only two of those starters return in the trenches, but the line should get a boost with Helms stepping into one of the guard spots. The Georgia native started 18 games at Wake Forest before transferring after the 2014 campaign.
63. WR JoJo Natson, Akron (from Utah State)
Natson’s career at Utah State ended due to a violation of team rules, but the Florida native is a dynamic playmaker and should make an instant impact on returns. In three years with the Aggies, Natson caught 127 passes for 1,031 yards and added 611 yards and six scores on the ground. Additionally, Natson averaged 11.5 yards on punt returns and scored four times on special teams.
Related: MAC Predictions for 2016
61/62. WR Kendall Sanders (Texas)/Cameron Echols-Luper (TCU) to Arkansas State
The Red Wolves could have three Big 12 transfers starting on offense this fall, as Sanders (Texas), Echols-Luper (TCU) and quarterback Justice Hansen (Oklahoma/junior college recruit) were key pickups on the recruiting trail for coach Blake Anderson. Sanders and Echols-Luper bring dynamic play-making ability and speed for a receiving corps that must replace Tres Houston, J.D. McKissic and tight end Darion Griswold.
60. WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF (to NC State)
Quinton Flowers was one of the nation’s top breakout quarterbacks last season, and USF coach Willie Taggart hopes to see his junior signal-caller take another step forward in 2016. Flowers should have plenty of help on the outside, as Rodney Adams and Chris Barr are back as returning starters at receiver, and this unit will get deeper with the addition of Valdes-Scantling. In two years at NC State, Valdes-Scantling caught 44 passes for 538 yards and one score. He was one of the spring’s top performers for the Bulls and will be a valuable addition for the passing game.
59. RB I'Tavius Mathers, MTSU (from Ole Miss)
With quarterback Brent Stockstill and receiver Richie James back in 2016, MTSU’s offense should be among the best in Conference USA once again. Mathers rushed for 1,061 yards and seven scores in three years at Ole Miss and is slated to take over the No. 1 job in the backfield for the Blue Raiders.
58. OL Jake Raulerson, Arkansas (from Texas)
Arkansas’ offensive line has a few voids to fill this offseason. Three starters depart the Razorbacks’ front five, but junior Frank Ragnow and senior Dan Skipper provide a good foundation to start the rebuilding effort. Raulerson – a late pickup in June – could contribute right away after transferring in from Texas. He started five games for the Longhorns in 2014 and is versatile enough to see snaps in a variety of spots in the trenches.
Related: SEC Predictions for 2016
57. OL Tyler Catalina, Georgia (Rhode Island)
New line coach Sam Pittman wasted no time looking for upgrades in talent and overall depth up front this spring. Catalina was one of his top pickups on the recruiting trail, as the graduate transfer from Rhode Island was considered one of the top linemen in the FCS ranks. Catalina started 33 games with the Rams and possesses the necessary size (6-foot-6 and 325 pounds) to compete in the SEC. The tougher level of competition will be a challenge, but Catalina is a key pickup for the Bulldogs.
55/56. LB Jordan Harris (Iowa State)/Dalton Santos (Texas) to Louisiana Tech
All three starters at linebacker must be replaced for Louisiana Tech’s defense, but this unit received a boost with the post-spring additions of Harris and Santos. Harris ranked third on Iowa State’s defense with 70 stops last season, while Santos played in 36 games during his Texas career.
54. LB Ukeme Eligwe, Georgia Southern (from Florida State)
Eligwe ranked as one of the nation’s top linebacker recruits in the 2012 signing class and played in 14 games before deciding to transfer to Georgia Southern. Eligwe received significant action in the Seminoles’ 2013 title run, recording 28 stops and two tackles in 13 appearances.
53. CB Cedric Dozier, Kansas State (from California)
Kansas State’s secondary ranked 112th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season, but help is on the way for coach Bill Snyder. Safety Dante Barnett is back after missing nearly all of 2015 due to an injury, and Dozier is expected to challenge for a starting spot at cornerback after transferring in from California. He recorded 80 tackles and nine passes defended in three years with the Golden Bears.
Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2016
51/52. CB Jamel Dean (Ohio State)/Marshall Taylor (Miami, Ohio) to Auburn
Sophomore Carlton Davis is already one of the SEC’s top cornerbacks, but the Tigers need to find an answer on the other side. The likely solution comes via the transfer ranks, as Dean – a four-star recruit in the 2015 signing class – and Taylor (a graduate transfer from Miami, Ohio) are expected to battle for a starting spot in the fall. Taylor made 10 starts with the RedHawks and recorded 39 tackles last season.
50. LB E.J. Levenberry, UConn (from Florida State)
With six returning starters and one of the nation’s top cornerbacks in Jamar Summers anchoring the secondary, UConn’s defense should be the best in the American Athletic Conference this year. Levenberry’s arrival only adds to the talent level on this unit, as the Florida State transfer is expected to claim a starting spot in the linebacking corps. Levenberry played in 26 games with the Seminoles and recorded 60 tackles in that span.
48/49. LB Courtney Love (Nebraska)/De’Niro Laster (Minnesota) to Kentucky
Kentucky’s defense gave up 27.4 points a game last season and enters 2016 with key question marks at each level. However, some of those concerns could be eased if Love and Laster emerge as key contributors at linebacker. Love played in 12 games in his only season of action at Nebraska, while Laster played in nine contests with Minnesota in 2014. Both players are expected to see a healthy complement of snaps in 2016.
47. CB/S Adrian Colbert, Miami (from Texas)
The cornerback spot is a concern for new coordinator Manny Diaz, as the Hurricanes must replace first-round pick Artie Burns and fellow starter Tracy Howard. Colbert is a versatile option for Diaz and could slide into one of the cornerback spots after spending his career at Texas at safety. Colbert recorded 26 tackles in 38 games with the Longhorns.
46. WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Kansas (from Texas A&M)
Playmakers are in short supply in Lawrence, but coach David Beaty has help coming in the form of Gonzalez. The Texas native played under Beaty at Texas A&M from 2013-15 and caught 26 passes during that span. Gonzalez should step into the starting lineup this fall and is expected to emerge as the go-to target for quarterback Ryan Willis.
45. RB Warren Ball, Akron (from Ohio State)
Akron coach Terry Bowden has added plenty of transfers to the Zips’ roster in his tenure, and Ball has a chance to be another high-impact addition. With Conor Hundley out of eligibility, Akron is looking for a go-to running back for 2016. Ball was a four-star recruit in the high school ranks but recorded only 41 attempts at Ohio State. He is expected to push Van Edwards for the starting job.
44. WR Chris Black, Missouri (from Alabama)
Missouri’s young receiving corps experienced its share of ups and downs last season, but there’s optimism for this group with the team’s top two options – J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown – back in 2016. Black transferred to Columbia in search of more playing time, and the No. 45 overall prospect in the 2012 signing class should be an impact addition for coordinator Josh Heupel. Black caught 25 passes in three seasons of action with the Crimson Tide.
43. CB Daquawn Brown, Fresno State (from Washington State)
Prior to his dismissal from Washington State, Brown was considered one of the Pac-12’s rising stars. In two years with the Cougars, Brown registered 132 tackles, 16 pass breakups, two interceptions and earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2014. If Brown picks up where he left off in Pullman, he should emerge as one of the Mountain West’s top defenders.
42. DB Maurice Smith, Alabama to ?
Smith has been a valuable member of Alabama’s secondary over the last three seasons. The Texas native played in 41 contests with the Crimson Tide and recorded 38 tackles, along with five passes defended. Smith’s decision to leave Tuscaloosa came as a surprise in mid-June, but the senior is expected to land at another Power 5 program for 2016.
41. QB Philip Nelson, East Carolina (from Minnesota/Rutgers)
Nelson has traveled an interesting road to East Carolina and has yet to play in a FBS game since the 2013 season. The Minnesota native spent two years with the Golden Gophers from 2012-13 and threw for 2,179 yards and 17 scores in that span. Additionally, Nelson added 548 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. After two seasons with Minnesota, Nelson transferred to Rutgers but was later dismissed from the team after an off-field incident in 2014. Nelson edged Kurt Benkert (transferred to Virginia after spring ball) for the starting the job and has a chance to have a solid senior year with a strong supporting cast at East Carolina.
40. LB Keith Brown, WKU (from Louisville)
Brown is the second Louisville defender transferring to WKU to make this list. The Miami native was active around the line of scrimmage in his career with the Cardinals, recording 113 tackles in 37 appearances. Brown has the talent to be one of Conference USA’s top defenders this season.
38/39. WR Avery Peterson (LSU)/Jamil Kamara (Virginia) to Cincinnati
The Bearcats must replace their top six statistical receivers from last season, but there’s help on the way in the form of two impact transfers in Kamara (Virginia) and Peterson (LSU). Both players were considered top 250 prospects in their signing class and have three seasons of eligibility at Cincinnati. Kamara and Peterson could be among the top newcomers in the American Athletic Conference in 2016.
37. OL Jimmy Lowery, Boston College (from Eastern Illinois)
The offensive line was a strength for Boston College in coach Steve Addazio’s first two seasons (2013-14), but this unit was inconsistent last fall. Lowery is slated to push for the starting job at left tackle after spending the last three years at Eastern Illinois. The Illinois native started 31 games with the Panthers and earned second-team All-Ohio Valley honors last year.
Related: ACC Predictions for 2016
36. OL Ryan Ramcyzk, Wisconsin (from Wisconsin Stevens-Point)
Ramczyk will be one of the most interesting transfers on this list to watch in 2016. The Wisconsin native played two years at UW-Stevens Point before transferring to Madison. Ramczyk recorded all-conference honors in both seasons (2013-14) and is slated to take to start at left tackle for the Badgers this fall.
34/35. DB Antonio Crawford (Miami)/Maurice Fleming (Iowa) to West Virginia
West Virginia’s secondary suffered heavy personnel losses and heads into fall practice looking for four new starters. However, help is on the way in the form of two transfers – Crawford and Fleming – as well as a few reinforcements from the junior college ranks. Crawford played in 13 games and recorded 19 tackles with the Hurricanes in 2014. Fleming played in 14 contests last season and finished with 17 tackles and five pass breakups.
33. LB Michael Barton, Arizona (from California)
Improving the defense was the top priority this offseason for coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats have a revamped staff, and a scheme change is likely under new play-caller Marcel Yates. The linebacking corps is expected to be the strength of the defense for Yates, as Barton arrives from Berkeley with one year of eligibility remaining. Barton was a standout performer on California’s defense over the last three seasons, recording 80 stops (7.5 for a loss) in 2014. He should factor prominently into the defense this year.
32. QB Jared Johnson, UTSA (from Sam Houston State)
UTSA ranked 11th in Conference USA in passing offense last season, but new coach Frank Wilson hopes to generate improvement with the addition of Johnson through the graduate transfer rank and the hire of veteran assistant Frank Scelfo to call the plays. Johnson was the Southland Offensive Player of the Year after accounting for 2,686 total yards and 23 overall scores in 2015. Johnson should provide a spark for UTSA’s offense and will be an impact transfer for Wilson.
31. DL Dewayne Hendrix, Pitt (from Tennessee)
If Hendrix lives up to his recruiting hype – four-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite – then Pitt could have one of the nation’s top defensive end combos for 2016. All-America candidate Ejuan Price anchors one side of the line, and Hendrix is penciled in as a key contributor on the other side. Hendrix recorded two tackles in only season (2014) of action at Tennessee.
29/30. DL Kolin Hill (Notre Dame)/Ondre Pipkins (Michigan) to Texas Tech
Improvement on defense is a must if Texas Tech wants to exceed last year’s seven-win mark. Help is on the way for coordinator David Gibbs, as Hill (Notre Dame) and Pipkins (Michigan) are eligible after sitting out the 2015 season due to transfer rules. Hill was a three-star recruit in the 2014 signing class and recorded two sacks in his only year with the Fighting Irish. Pipkins was a four-star recruit in the 2012 signing class and played in 23 games with the Wolverines. Both players should push for a starting spot this season.
28. WR Rashaad Samples, Houston (from Oklahoma State)
Demarcus Ayers led all Houston receivers with 98 catches last season, but he decided to depart for the NFL, leaving a void on the outside for quarterback Greg Ward. The cupboard isn’t totally bare, as Chance Allen (56 catches) and Steven Dunbar (31) form a solid foundation. Samples is a dynamic pickup for coach Tom Herman and could slide into Ayers’ role as the slot receiver. The junior was regarded as a four-star prospect out of high school.
27. QB Alec Morris, North Texas (from Alabama)
New coach Seth Littrell has a lot of work to do in his first season in Denton. North Texas finished 1-11 and averaged only 15.2 points a game last year. Littrell is one of the nation’s top offensive minds and should get this program back on track over the next couple of seasons, and there’s immediate help on the way in the form of Morris – a graduate transfer from Alabama. In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Morris attempted only one pass and played in eight games. However, the Texas native should be a good fit for Littrell’s offense, and the former three-star recruit should provide a spark for the Mean Green attack.
26. OL Zac Morgan, Oregon (from Dayton)
The Ducks have a bit of work to do up front this offseason, as three starters from last year’s group must be replaced. Junior Tyrell Crosby is an All-America candidate on the left side, but Oregon could turn to a graduate transfer to handle the starting duties at right tackle. Morgan transferred from Dayton to Oregon for his final year of eligibility, and the Illinois native brings good size (6-foot-7 and 280 pounds) and experience (26 career starts) to Eugene.
25. DL Kevin Williams, Michigan State (from Nebraska)
The departures of Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath and Lawrence Thomas leave big shoes to fill up front for the Spartans. Junior Malik McDowell is one of the nation’s top defensive linemen, but Michigan State will be looking for a few new faces to emerge to keep the attention away from its All-America tackle. With one year of eligibility remaining, Williams is making the in-conference move from Nebraska to East Lansing. Williams played in 23 games with the Cornhuskers and recorded 10 tackles for a loss in that span. He’s expected to be a key contributor for Mark Dantonio’s defense this fall.
24. OL Darius James, Auburn (from Texas)
The exact starting five and positions on Auburn’s offensive line are unsettled headed into fall practice, but the Tigers have the makings of one of the SEC’s top groups. Three starters are back for coach Gus Malzahn, while James – a transfer from Texas – is expected to grab one of the starting jobs at tackle. James ranked as the No. 34 overall prospect by the 247Sports Composite in the 2013 signing class and played in six games (with two starts) as a redshirt freshman in 2014.
23. LB Rommel Mageo, Ole Miss (from Oregon State)
Mageo’s post-Signing Day decision to transfer to Ole Miss was a critical pickup for coach Hugh Freeze’s defense. Mageo led Oregon State with 87 tackles in 2015 and also recorded two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup. The senior is expected to challenge for the starting job at middle linebacker in Ole Miss’ 4-2-5 scheme.
22. C Joseph Scelfo, NC State (from South Alabama)
NC State’s line returns only two starters from a unit that helped the ground attack rank fourth in the ACC (202.1 ypg). However, help is on the way in the form of Scelfo. The graduate transfer from South Alabama was one of the top centers in the Group of 5 conferences and started 35 games with the Jaguars.
21. CB Priest Willis, Texas A&M (from UCLA)
Both cornerback spots are up for grabs in College Station with the departure of De’Vante Harris and Brandon Williams. But the Aggies may not see much of a drop at cornerback with the addition of Willis from UCLA, along with Nick Harvey’s development on the other side. Willis was a four-star recruit in the 2013 signing class for the Bruins and recorded 31 tackles in two seasons.
20. QB Darell Garretson, Oregon State (from Utah State)
Oregon State’s offense struggled mightily last season, finishing 12th in the Pac-12 by averaging only 19 points a game. Coach Gary Andersen wasted no time making changes this offseason, as Kevin McGiven and T.J. Woods were promoted to co-coordinators, with last year’s quarterback – Seth Collins – switching to a slash/all-purpose role in 2016. Garretson started seven games at Utah State as a true freshman in 2013 and finished the year with 1,446 passing yards and 10 scores. He was pressed into duty once again due to injuries in 2014 and threw for 1,140 yards and eight touchdowns in five appearances. Garretson also displayed his mobility to make plays on the run with the Aggies, adding 344 yards and 18 scores in two seasons. He's slated to take the take the first snap for Oregon State this fall.
19. DL Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, USC (from Utah)
The addition of Tu'ikolovatu was a key summer pickup for coach Clay Helton. The Trojans are in rebuild mode up front, as four key contributors from last season’s line expired their eligibility after the Holiday Bowl. Tu'ikolovatu played in 25 games at Utah and recorded 28 tackles, including six for a loss in 2015. At 320 pounds, Tu'ikolovatu is a good fit to anchor the interior of coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s hybrid defense.
Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2016
18. WR Gehrig Dieter, Alabama (from Bowling Green)
Alabama’s receiving corps was already one of the nation’s best headed into 2016, but this group got even deeper with the addition of Dieter in February. After starting his career at SMU, Dieter transferred to Bowling Green and played two seasons in Dino Babers’ high-powered offense. After catching 35 passes for 460 yards in his first year with the Falcons, Dieter grabbed 94 receptions for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Dieter probably won’t equal those totals in 2016, but he should be another valuable weapon in Lane Kiffin’s offense.
17. RB Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State (from Stanford)
Improving the ground game is a must if Oklahoma State wants to challenge Oklahoma or TCU for the Big 12 title. The Cowboys averaged only 126.9 yards a game in 2015, but there’s help on the way in the form of Sanders. The Oklahoma native was a four-star recruit out of high school and rushed for 672 yards and five scores in three years with Stanford. With Christian McCaffrey entrenched as the Cardinal’s starter, transferring to Oklahoma State will allow Sanders to push for a full workload in 2016.
16. LB T.J. Neal, Auburn (from Illinois)
With Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy expiring their eligibility, Auburn’s defense needed an impact addition at linebacker to ease the transition to the unit’s younger players. Neal’s arrival should ease some of the concerns for coordinator Kevin Steele, as the Pennsylvania native arrives at Auburn after three productive seasons with the Fighting Illini. In 2015, Neal played in all 12 games for Illinois and recorded 109 tackles and two sacks.
15. RB Alex Ross, Missouri (from Oklahoma)
Missouri’s rushing attack struggled mightily last year, managing only 115.4 yards a game and just 3.5 yards per carry. Ish Witter (518 yards) is back, but the ground game is expected to get a boost from the addition of Ross, who reunites with former Oklahoma play-caller Josh Heupel. In three years with the Sooners, Ross recorded 786 yards and five rushing scores and was also a weapon on kickoff returns (25.7 average and two scores from 2014-15).
14. QB Patrick Towles, Boston College (from Kentucky)
Despite owning one of the nation’s top defenses last season, Boston College finished 3-9 and winless in conference play. Offense was the primary culprit for the Eagles, as this unit managed only 9.1 points a game in ACC contests and failed to score more than 20 points in each of the last 10 contests. However, help is on the way for coach Steve Addazio. With Drew Barker entrenched as Kentucky’s starter, Towles transferred to Boston College looking for a starting job for his final year of eligibility. In three seasons of playing time with the Wildcats, Towles threw for 5,099 yards and 24 scores, including two years of 2,000 or more passing yards (2014-15). Towles isn’t expected to push for All-ACC honors, but he should give the Boston College offense a much-needed boost after managing only 110.9 passing yards per game in 2015.
13. QB John O’Korn, Michigan (from Houston)
Jim Harbaugh had a lot of success with a transfer quarterback (Jake Rudock) last season. Could the same formula work once again for the Wolverines in 2016? O’Korn had a promising start to his career at Houston, throwing for 3,117 yards and 28 scores in 2013. However, O’Korn struggled in 2014 and was benched in favor of Greg Ward after tossing eight interceptions through the first five games. The Florida native should benefit from a change of scenery and the opportunity to work under Harbaugh. O’Korn finished spring locked into a tight battle with Wilton Speight for the starting job.
12. QB Mike White, WKU (from South Florida)
Brandon Doughty closed out a prolific career at WKU with a standout senior season as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Doughty torched opposing defenses for 5,055 yards and 48 touchdowns in 2015 and earned third-team All-America honors by Athlon Sports. Replacing Doughty’s production won’t be easy, but Jeff Brohm is one of the nation’s top offensive minds and should keep the WKU offense on track. White showed promise in a two-year stint at USF, throwing for 2,722 yards and 11 scores from 2013-14. The junior is the frontrunner to replace Doughty as WKU’s starter for 2016.
11. LB Hardy Nickerson, Illinois (from California)
With one season of eligibility remaining, Nickerson left California for Illinois and an opportunity to play under his father – Hardy Nickerson Sr. Over the last three seasons with the Golden Bears, Nickerson recorded 124 tackles (nine for a loss) and forced two fumbles. The senior could be a standout on Illinois’ defense and is expected to challenge for All-Big Ten honors.
10. DL Dee Liner, Arkansas State (from Alabama)
Arkansas State already has one of the top Group of 5 defensive linemen in Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, and the Red Wolves should have another standout in the mix with Liner joining the team after transferring from Alabama. Liner ranked as the No. 46 overall recruit by the 247Sports Composite in the 2015 signing class and recorded three tackles in limited action. Liner should be the Sun Belt’s top newcomer for 2016.
9. WR Geno Lewis, Oklahoma (from Penn State)
With Sterling Shepard off to the NFL, Oklahoma’s receiving corps will look a little different this season. The Sooners aren’t hurting for potential targets, as Dede Westbrook and Mark Andrews are back after combining for 55 catches last season, while Lewis is eligible immediately as a graduate transfer from Penn State. Lewis grabbed 90 passes in his career with the Nittany Lions, including 55 receptions for 751 yards in 2014.
8. QB Luke Del Rio, Florida (from Oregon State)
Florida’s offense struggled mightily once Will Grier was lost for the year due to a suspension. The Gators averaged only 22.7 points in SEC contests last season and tossed only five touchdown passes over the final six games. While the offense still has to prove in game action it found the right answers this offseason, it’s hard to envision this unit performing at the same level. Del Rio is eligible after sitting out 2015 as a transfer from Oregon State and finished spring as Florida’s No. 1 quarterback. Luke – the son of NFL coach Jack Del Rio – spent one year at Alabama (2013) and played the 2014 season at Oregon State. In his time with the Beavers, Del Rio completed 8 of 18 passes for 141 yards. His experience is limited, but Del Rio should provide a boost for Florida’s passing game.
7. RB Keith Ford, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)
Two transfers – quarterback Trevor Knight and Ford – are expected to lead the way for Texas A&M’s offense this season. Ford was a five-star prospect out of high school and originally signed with Oklahoma. In two years with the Aggies, Ford rushed for 526 yards and six scores, including 392 on only 71 attempts in 2014. After sitting out 2015 due to transfer rules, Ford is primed to emerge as one of the SEC’s top running backs this fall.
6. DL Gerald Willis, Miami (from Florida)
New Miami line coach Craig Kuligowski has a strong track record of developing standout linemen from his tenure at Missouri and his arrival will immediately help a defensive front that must improve after ranking 13th in the ACC in run defense last year. Willis ranked as the No. 34 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite for the 2014 signing class and transferred to Miami after one season with the Gators. The Louisiana native is expected to play a key role on the interior of Miami’s defensive line this year.
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5. RB Duke Catalon, Houston (from Texas)
Dynamic senior quarterback Greg Ward leads the way for Houston’s ground attack, but the Cougars must replace their No. 2 and No. 3 rushers from last season. Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson expired their eligibility after the Peach Bowl win against Florida State, leaving a large void at running back headed into spring ball. However, the cupboard is far from bare for coach Tom Herman. Catalon was a four-star recruit for Texas in 2014 and decided to transfer before playing a down with the Longhorns. Catalon has the talent to be one of the American Athletic Conference’s top running backs in 2016.
4. QB Dakota Prukop, Oregon (from Montana State)
A graduate transfer (Vernon Adams) from the FCS level at quarterback worked out well for Oregon in 2015. Prukop should be another good fit for the Ducks in their dynamic offense, as he transfers to Oregon after accounting for 3,822 yards and 39 total scores at Montana State last season. Additionally, Prukop earned first-team All-America honors by the Associated Press in 2015. It’s hard to read too much into spring game statistics, but Prukop appears to be making an easy transition into the program. The senior completed 20 of 29 throws for 190 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s spring game. While Prukop has an impressive resume from his stint at Montana State, he will be pushed by Travis Jonsen for the starting job. Prukop may not be the dynamic playmaker through the air that Adams was, but he will present a bigger threat on the ground to opposing defenses.
3. QB Trevor Knight, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)
The December decisions by Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray to transfer from Texas A&M left coach Kevin Sumlin searching for immediate help at quarterback. Sumlin didn’t have to look too far for an answer, as Knight wanted an opportunity to start in his senior year with Baker Mayfield entrenched as Oklahoma’s No. 1 quarterback. Knight appeared to be on the verge of a breakout season after torching Alabama for 348 passing yards and four touchdowns in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. However, Knight didn’t build off that performance and finished the 2014 season with 2,300 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes. Mayfield supplanted Knight as Oklahoma’s starter in 2015. The senior should be a good fit in new coordinator Noel Mazzone’s offense and is surrounded by a deep group of skill players, including one of the SEC's top receiving corps. If Knight can stay healthy, he has a chance to finish 2016 as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks.
Related: Athlon Sports 2016 All-America Team
2. QB Kenny Hill, TCU (from Texas A&M)
Even though TCU’s offense suffered some heavy losses, this unit may not slip too far on the stat sheet in 2016. Trevone Boykin leaves big shoes to fill at quarterback, but the Horned Frogs have two capable options – Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer – waiting in the wings. Hill replaced Johnny Manziel after he left for the NFL in 2014 and started the first eight games of the season. The Texas native threw for 2,649 yards and 23 scores and added 156 yards on the ground during his starting stint. However, Hill struggled midway through the year and was eventually replaced by Kyle Allen. Since the arrival of co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, TCU has averaged over 40 points in back-to-back seasons. With a loaded group of skill players at his disposal, Hill could be the point guard of an explosive TCU attack in 2016. However, he still has to hold off Sawyer for the starting job this fall.
1. QB Davis Webb, California (from Texas Tech)
Replacing the No. 1 overall pick (Jared Goff) in the NFL Draft is never easy, but California’s offense should be set with the addition of Davis Webb under center. Webb was the most sought after graduate transfer quarterback this season and was committed to Colorado before switching to California in May. The transition from Texas Tech’s offense to California’s Bear Raid attack should be an easy one for Webb, as new play-caller Jake Spavital operated a similar scheme at Texas A&M and West Virginia. During his three seasons with the Red Raiders, Webb threw for 5,557 yards and 46 scores. The Golden Bears will have a revamped group of receivers for Webb to throw to, but the senior is considered one of the top prospects at quarterback for the 2017 NFL Draft and should push for All-Pac-12 honors.
Other Key Quarterback Transfers
QB Austin Appleby, Purdue to Florida
QB Danny Etling, Purdue to LSU
QB Tyler Ferguson, WKU to Louisville
QB Cole Garvin, South Alabama to Marshall
QB Anthony Jennings, LSU to ?
QB Zach Kline, California to ?
QB Eddie Printz, Missouri to Texas State
QB Asiantii Woulard, UCLA to USF
Other Key Running Back Transfers for 2016
RB King Burke, SJSU to NMSU
RB Squally Canada, Washington State to BYU
RB Denzell Evans, Arkansas to Kansas
RB Derrick Green, Michigan to ?
RB J.J. Green, Georgia to Georgia Tech
FB Jacob Kraut, Rutgers to FIU
RB Tommy Mister, Indiana to Northern Illinois
RB Omar Stover, Wyoming to WKU
FB Walter Tucker, Miami to FIU
Other Key Wide Receiver Transfers for 2016
WR Jocquez Bruce, Tennessee to MTSU
WR Dannon Cavil, Oklahoma to UTSA
WR Shelby Christy, Mississippi State to UL Lafayette
WR Jordan Cunningham, Vanderbilt to North Carolina
WR Amba Etta-Tawo, Maryland to Syracuse
WR Harrison Jackson, BC to New Mexico State
WR Marchie Murdock, Illinois to Iowa State
WR Teldrick Morgan, NMSU to Maryland
WR Alfred Smith, Utah to Louisiana Tech
WR Michael Summers, Georgia Tech to Georgia Southern
WR Vic Wharton, Tennessee to California
Other Key Tight End Transfers for 2016
TE/FB Michael Ferns, Michigan to West Virginia
TE Greg Hart, Nebraska to Kentucky
TE Daniel Helm, Tennessee to Duke
TE Chase Hounshell, Notre Dame to Ohio State
TE Jordan Jones, Gardner-Webb to UTSA
TE Alex Leslie, Iowa State to Houston
Other Key Offensive Line Transfers
OL Will Adams, Auburn to Boise State
OL Jared Cohen, North Carolina to Virginia
OL Will Dancy, North Carolina to East Carolina
OL Brayden Kearsley, BYU to Oregon State
OL Trey Keenan, Texas Tech to North Texas
OL Dan Samuelson, Michigan to Eastern Michigan
OL Paul Thurston, Nebraska to Colorado State
Other Key Defensive Line Transfers
DL Ja'merez Bowen, Cincinnati to Indiana
DL Joe Keels, Nebraska to Eastern Michigan
DL Melvin Keihn, Virginia Tech to Maryland
DL Malachi Moore, Boston College to Rutgers
DL Jack Powers, Arizona State to Virginia
DL Gabe Sherrod, Delaware State to ?
DL Tom Strobel, Michigan to Ohio
DL Hez Trahan, Pitt to Temple
DE Jhonny Williams, Notre Dame to Toledo
Other Key Linebacker Transfers
LB Cecil Cherry, Texas to USF
LB Ronnie Feist, LSU to UTSA
LB Dorian Hendrix, Kentucky to Bowling Green
LB Jeremi Powell, Florida to Toledo
LB Jason Sylva, Western Michigan to Idaho
Other Key Defensive Back Transfers
DB Eric Amoako, Houston Baptist to Minnesota
DB Evrett Edwards, Duke to Iowa State
DB Desmond Frye, Virginia Tech to Toledo
CB Wesley Green, South Carolina to Indiana
DB Kamel Greene, Washington State to BYU
DB Kevin Houchins, Louisville to HIo
DB Austin Hudson, Wisconsin to USF
CB Bryce Jones, Boston College to Akron
CB Jermaine Kelly, Washington to San Jose State
S Derrick Moncrief, Auburn to Oklahoma State
DB Jalen Ortiz, UCLA to Wyoming
DB Devontre Parnell, Louisville to USM
DB Terry Richardson, Michigan to Marshall
S Shaun Rupert, Missouri to Memphis
DB Prince Sam, Houston Baptist, Louisiana Tech
DB/RB Ross Taylor-Douglas, Michigan to Rutgers
K/P Satchel Ziffer, Old Dominion to Boston College