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College Football's Top Transfers to Watch in 2015

Blake Countess

Blake Countess

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.

Quarterbacks are always under the microscope in the transfer ranks, and there’s no shortage of intriguing moves for 2015. Everett Golson left Notre Dame for Florida State, and Vernon Adams is transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon.

Related: Impact Quarterback Transfers for 2015

Every position has an impact transfer for 2015, including running back with Indiana’s Jordan Howard, Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and Auburn center Austin Golson.

Here’s a look at 25 key transfers to watch this year:

25 Impact College Football Transfers for 2015

1. The Quarterbacks

Several quarterbacks are slated to make an impact at a new program in 2015. Vernon Adams (Oregon), Everett Golson (Florida State), Jake Rudock (Michigan), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Jeff Driskel (Louisiana Tech) and Max Wittek (Hawaii) are just a few of the key quarterback transfers to watch this year.

Here’s the complete breakdown of QB transfers for 2015.

2. Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana (from UAB)

Howard is eligible immediately after UAB disbanded its football program in December. The junior rushed for 2,468 yards and 15 scores in two years with the Blazers. Tevin Coleman leaves big shoes to fill, but Howard is capable of being an All-Big Ten running back.

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Related: Big Ten 2015 Predictions

3. Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville (from Georgia)

Even though Louisville’s secondary must replace all four starters from last season, the pass defense won’t suffer too big of a drop with two Georgia transfers stepping into the lineup. Harvey-Clemons was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and made 11 starts for the Bulldogs in 2013.

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Related: ACC 2015 Predictions

4. Blake Countess, CB, Auburn (from Michigan)

Auburn’s secondary has to improve after giving up 44 pass plays of 20 yards or more last year. The Tigers have lost a few players here via transfer, but the addition of Countess should help at corner. The Maryland native played in 38 games for the Wolverines, recorded 114 tackles and six interceptions. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2013.

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Related: SEC 2015 Predictions

5. Austin Golson, C, Auburn (from Ole Miss)

Golson is making the rare move of transferring within the SEC West, as the Alabama native left Ole Miss after playing in 12 games with the Rebels in 2013. Golson is considered the frontrunner to start at center and replace Reese Dismukes for a talented Auburn offensive line.

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6. Matt Hegarty, OL, Oregon (from Notre Dame)

Oregon’s offensive line loses stalwarts in left tackle Jake Fisher and center Hroniss Grasu, but a solid foundation remains intact with three other returning starters. Hegarty started 11 games for the Fighting Irish last season and will push for starting spot at guard or center.

Related: Pac-12 2015 Predictions

7. Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State (from UCLA)

With the departure of Jaelen Strong to the NFL, Arizona State’s offense is in need of a receiver (or two) to emerge. But the answers are falling into place for coach Todd Graham, as running back D.J. Foster is shifting to receiver, and Lucien is eligible immediately after transferring from UCLA. The California native averaged 12.9 yards per catch in three years with the Bruins.

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Related: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015

8. Wayne Lyons, CB, Michigan (from Stanford)

Michigan lost cornerback Blake Countess in a transfer to Auburn but gained a starter in Lyons. The Florida native is a good fit for the Wolverines’ defensive scheme in press coverage and was recruited to Stanford by Jim Harbaugh. Lyons recorded 30 tackles in 13 games with the Cardinal in 2014.

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9. Tray Matthews, S, Auburn (from Georgia)

Auburn’s defense should be among the most improved groups in the SEC this season. The addition of Will Muschamp at coordinator will help to turn around a unit that allowed 26.7 points per game in 2014. Matthews is the second defensive back transfer for Auburn to make this list, as the sophomore is likely to start at safety after transferring from Georgia. The sophomore played in eight games for the Bulldogs in 2013 and recorded 36 tackles.

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10. Ty Isaac, RB, Michigan (from USC)

Jim Harbaugh loves to establish the run, and the Wolverines are due for improvement in this area after generating only 162.8 yards per game in 2014. Getting junior Derrick Green back to full strength after a broken clavicle last year will help, and Isaac is ready to contribute after sitting out a season due to transfer rules. Isaac was a five-star recruit out of high school and rushed for 236 yards and two scores in 14 games with the Trojans in 2013.

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11. Freddie Tagaloa, OT, Arizona (from California)

Rich Rodriguez’s high-powered Arizona offense will be breaking in three new starters on the line this season. Tagaloa should help to ease some of the transition up front, as the California native has starting experience from his two-year stint in Berkeley. The junior is expected to start at left tackle in 2015.

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Related: Ranking the Pac-12 Quarterbacks for 2015

12. Victor Salako, OT, Oklahoma State (from UAB)

Oklahoma State’s offensive line struggled last season, but this unit showed improvement late in the year. Salako transferred to Stillwater after UAB disbanded its football program in December, and the Alabama native is expected to start at left tackle after making 23 starts with the Blazers.

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Related: Ranking the Big 12's Coaches for 2015

13. Mike Mitchell, LB, Texas Tech (from Ohio State)

It’s no secret Texas Tech’s defense is in need of repair. Coach Kliff Kingsbury took a major step forward in addressing the defensive woes by hiring David Gibbs away from Houston, while the talent on the field is bolstered by the addition of Mitchell. The five-star recruit never played at Ohio State and redshirted in his only season with the Buckeyes.

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Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

14. Shaq Wiggins, CB, Louisville (from Georgia)

Wiggins is the second Georgia transfer to Louisville in this article. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is expected to join Wiggins as starters in the secondary for coordinator Todd Grantham. Wiggins started eight games for the Bulldogs in 2013, recording 19 tackles and two interceptions. 

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15. Brennan Scarlett, DE, Stanford (from California)

Scarlett’s decision to transfer from California to Stanford certainly raised some eyebrows around the Pac-12, but the senior is a solid pickup for the Cardinal defense. Injuries marred Scarlett’s tenure at California, as he never played in a full season and was limited to 17 appearances in four years. Stanford is thin on depth up front, which should allow Scarlett to carve out a role in the trenches this season.

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16. Ja’Quay Savage, WR, Louisville (from Texas A&M)

Louisville has some big shoes to fill in the receiving corps with the departure of receivers DeVante Parker and Eli Rogers and tight end Gerald Christian. But the Cardinals aren’t hurting for talent on the outside, as UAB transfer Jamari Staples, junior James Quick and Savage will be a trio of capable targets. Savage (formerly Ja’Quay Williams) transferred to Louisville after one year at Texas A&M. The Georgia native caught four passes with the Aggies in 2013.

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17. Isaiah Johnson, S, South Carolina (from Kansas)

South Carolina’s defense struggled mightily last year, giving up 30.4 points per game and 6.2 yards per play. Coach Steve Spurrier hopes the addition of new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke helps to turn around this unit, along with addition of a few new faces and more experience from the underclassmen. Johnson was one of the few bright spots on a struggling Kansas team last year, recording 75 tackles and one interception. Johnson should push for a starting spot at safety.

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Related: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015

18. Richard Mullaney, WR, Alabama (from Oregon State)

Amari Cooper leaves big shoes to fill after catching 124 of Alabama’s 290 passes last year. And Cooper isn’t the only loss for coordinator Lane Kiffin as No. 2 target DeAndrew White and No. 3 receiver Christion Jones have expired their eligibility. Mullaney is a post-spring pickup for coach Nick Saban, and the Oregon State graduate transfer should be a valuable pickup for an inexperienced receiving corps. Mullaney caught 52 passes in 2013 but was limited by injury in 2014.

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19. Rodney Coe, DT, Akron (from Iowa State)

Akron’s starting defense could feature five transfers from Power 5 programs. Linebacker Darryl Monroe is a name to watch, but Coe could be the biggest impact transfer for coach Terry Bowden. The 305-pound tackle recorded 37 tackles at Iowa State in 2013 and will anchor the interior of Akron’s defensive front this year.

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Related: College Football's Top Coordinators on the Rise

20. Kelsey Young, RB, Boise State (from Stanford)

With Jay Ajayi moving onto the NFL, uncertainty surrounds the Boise State backfield. Jeremy McNichols and Cory Young are the favorites to replace Ajayi’s production, but Kelsey Young (Cory’s brother) adds to the competition after transferring to Boise for his final year. He rushed for 331 yards on 66 attempts with Stanford in 2014.

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21. Kaiwan Lewis, LB, Rutgers (from South Carolina)

Rutgers’ Big Ten debut was a success, but coach Kyle Flood has some work to do in order to get the Scarlet Knights back in the postseason in 2015. Upgrading the performance on defense is a must, and Lewis – a graduate transfer from South Carolina – is slated to compete for the starting job at middle linebacker. Lewis regarded 20 tackles for the Gamecocks last year but made 10 starts in 2013.

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22. Mason Halter, OL, Florida (from Fordham)

Florida taking a graduate transfer from Fordham isn’t going to be a common occurrence, but the Gators desperately need offensive line help, and Halter is a good pickup to bolster the available talent. The senior started 33 games at Fordham and was one of the top linemen at the FCS level. With the Gators short on talent and depth, Halter figures to make an impact in his only year in Gainesville.

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23. Damore’ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss (from Washington)

Stringfellow certainly has the talent to be an impact receiver for Ole Miss, but coach Hugh Freeze indicated the Washington transfer needs to show more consistency to earn playing time in 2015. In his only season with the Huskies, Stringfellow caught 20 passes for 259 yards and one score.

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24. Jake Ganus, LB, Georgia (from UAB)

The Bulldogs are loaded with talent on the outside in the linebacking corps, featuring All-SEC candidates in Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd. The interior spots in this group are up for grabs, and Ganus could push Reggie Carter or Tim Kimbrough for a starting job. Ganus led UAB in tackles in 2013-14 and was a second-team All-Conference USA selection last year.

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25. Kyle Bosch, OL, West Virginia (from Michigan)

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen received good news in late May when Bosch was declared eligible for the 2015 season. The Illinois native played in one game for Michigan in 2014 but started three in 2013. He should push for time at guard in 2015.

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Other Transfers to Watch

Quarterback Transfers for 2015

RB Ralph David Abernathy IV, Cincinnati to Tennessee

RB Andrew Buie, West Virginia to Charlotte

RB Donnell Alexander, Colorado State to Akron

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