College Football's Transfers to Watch in 2012

Dayne Crist is on the move from Notre Dame to Kansas.

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Transfers can make a big impact on the college football scene and 2012 is full of players that can make an instant contribution. Several quarterbacks could start for their new team next season, including Dayne Crist at Kansas and Garrett Gilbert at SMU. Quarterback isn't the only position with impact transfers, as Baylor's Lache Seastrunk could be a dynamic running back in the Big 12 next season, and Brian Wagner is expected to contend for a starting job in Arizona's linebacking corps. 

Here's a look at some of the key transfers in 2012, as well as others to watch:


Austyn Carta-Samuels, Wyoming to Vanderbilt – Carta-Samuels was Wyoming’s starting quarterback from 2009-10, throwing for 3,655 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also added 758 yards and six scores on the ground. Carta-Samuels will have two seasons of eligibility remaining and is expected to compete with Jordan Rodgers for the team’s starting quarterback job in the spring.

Dayne Crist, Notre Dame to Kansas – Charlie Weis’ biggest recruit for 2012 wasn’t a freshman. Landing Crist as a transfer from Notre Dame was a huge coup for Weis, as Kansas ranked ninth in the Big 12 in passing offense. Crist has never started a full season, as injuries to his ACL and patella tendon have limited his playing time. Crist threw for 2,327 yards and 16 touchdowns during his career at Notre Dame and should be an upgrade over Jordan Webb at quarterback for the Jayhawks. However, Kansas needs more receivers to emerge, and the offensive line has to keep Crist healthy if this team wants to challenge for a bowl appearance in 2012.

Tyler Gabbert, Missouri to UCF – Gabbert was believed to be neck-and-neck with James Franklin for Missouri’s starting quarterback job exiting spring practice last season, but decided to transfer and finally resurfaced at UCF on Signing Day 2012. Gabbert has an excellent opportunity to earn playing time, as Jeff Godfrey decided to transfer and while Blake Bortles played well in limited action last season, he has yet to make a start. Even if Gabbert doesn’t win the job, he will provide valuable depth for UCF.

Garrett Gilbert, Texas to SMU – Gilbert showed flashes of promise at Texas, but never lived up to the hype as one of the top quarterback recruits in the class of 2009. After Colt McCoy was injured against Alabama in the 2010 National Championship game, Gilbert showed poise leading Texas back into the game, but completed only 15 of 40 passes and tossed four picks. He also never seemed to get comfortable as the starter in 2010, finishing with 2,744 yards and 17 picks and got off to a sluggish start in 2011, before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the year. Gilbert played in a wide-open passing offense under Chad Morris (Clemson’s offensive coordinator) at Lake Travis High School and landing at SMU under June Jones should be a good fit. With J.J. McDermott finishing his eligibility and Kyle Padron transferring, Gilbert is considered the frontrunner to start for SMU in 2012.

Cody Green, Nebraska to Tulsa – With G.J. Kinne finishing his eligibility, Tulsa will be breaking in a new starting quarterback for 2012. Green, a Nebraska transfer, will battle with Kalen Henderson to replace Kinne and keep Tulsa’s offense among the best in Conference USA. Green started four games for Nebraska during his two seasons in Lincoln and finished with 657 passing yards and five touchdowns over that span. He also added 254 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in his Nebraska career. Although Henderson has more experience at Tulsa, look for Green to take the first snap in 2012.

Jacob Karam, Texas Tech to Memphis – With Seth Doege firmly entrenched as Texas Tech’s starting quarterback, playing time was going to be limited for Karam. Since he already graduated from Texas Tech, Karam is eligible to play right away at Memphis and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining. The Tigers ranked as the worst passing offense in Conference USA last year, but with the addition of Karam and new coach Justin Fuente, Memphis should be a much-improved offensive attack in 2012.

Ryan Katz, Oregon State to San Diego State – Katz was considered a rising star after his sophomore season at Oregon State, throwing for 2,401 yards and 18 scores in 2010. However, he got off to a slow start last year and was benched early in the season in favor of Sean Mannion. Katz ended his Oregon State career with 14 starts and completed 59 percent of his throws over three seasons. Katz will compete with Adam Dingwell for San Diego State’s No. 1 quarterback spot and is considered the frontrunner to take the Aztecs’ first snap of 2012.

Danny O’Brien, Maryland to ? – O’Brien spent only two years at Maryland, but his time in College Park was quite a roller coaster ride. He threw for 2,438 yards and 22 scores and earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman, but followed that up with a disappointing sophomore effort (1,648 yards, 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions). O’Brien's struggles in 2011 were largely due to a lack of help around him, as Maryland’s receivers were inconsistent and the team struggled to adapt to new coordinator Gary Crowton. O’Brien is believed to be heavily interested in Vanderbilt, but Penn State, Michigan State, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin have all been mentioned as possible destinations. Maryland hit Vanderbilt coach James Franklin with a tampering allegation, so expect O’Brien to wait on announcing a destination until the investigation has finished.

Ryan Williams, Memphis to Miami – With Stephen Morris sidelined with a back injury for spring practice, Williams will have an opportunity to close the gap and make his case for the No. 1 job. Williams started 10 games as a true freshman at Memphis in 2010, throwing for 2,075 yards and 13 scores. He is a native of Pembroke Pines, Fla. and played his high school ball just down the road from Miami in Miramar. At 6-foot-6, Williams has the size to develop into a solid pocket passer and figures to push Morris for a starting job in the fall. 

Connor Wood, Texas to Colorado – Wood made a push for playing time last spring with Texas, but eventually fell behind David Ash, Garrett Gilbert and Case McCoy in the fall. With playing time unlikely in Austin, Wood transferred to Colorado and will be expected to contend for the starting job this season. He ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation coming out of high school, but never found his way onto the field with Texas. Wood will have to compete with Nick Hirschman for the No. 1 job, but Hirschman might miss spring workouts with a foot injury, giving the Texas transfer an early edge in the quarterback battle.

Others to watch

Terrance Broadway, Houston to UL Lafayette
Jeremy Higgins, Utah State to Hawaii
Ross Metheny, Virginia to South Alabama
Kevin Newsome, Penn State to Temple

Running Back

Mike Blakely, Florida to Auburn – Blakely ranked as the No. 67 overall player in the 2011 Athlon Consensus 100 and as enrolled at Florida for the spring semester. However, he chose to transfer in early May and was granted a release to Florida. Blakely should be able to contend for playing time in 2012, especially with Michael Dyer transferring to Arkansas State. Expect Blakely, Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason to share the workload for the Tigers this season.

Storm Johnson, Miami to UCF – The Knights were already deep at running back for 2012 with the return of Brynn Harvey and Latavius Murray. However, the backfield added another potential standout with Johnson transferring in from Miami. Johnson was rated among the top 150 players coming out of high school, but received only nine carries as a freshman in 2010. Johnson may not start this year, but expect him to figure into UCF’s gameplan.

Lache Seastrunk, Oregon to Baylor – Art Briles has Baylor on the move in the Big 12, and while quarterback Robert Griffin will be missed, the Bears aren’t going to slip back to 3-9 or 4-8 next year. Seastrunk was a huge catch for Baylor, as he has a chance to become a difference-maker in the backfield. He ranked as the No. 11 overall prospect and the No. 3 running back in the class of 2011 by Athlon Sports. The Temple, Texas native was also an elite high school track athlete, recording a time of 10.3 in the 100 meters. Seastrunk spent one year at Oregon but did not play a snap. The Bears have two solid backs returning in Glasco Martin and Jarred Salubi, but Seastrunk will get his opportunities in every game this year.

Others to watch

Jeremiah Bryson, Pittsburgh to MTSU
Drayton Calhoun, LSU to MTSU
DeLeon Eskridge, Minnesota to San Jose State
Hunter Furr, North Carolina to East Carolina
Corey Grant, Alabama to Auburn
Daquan Hargrett, West Virginia to FIU
Mister Jones, Texas A&M to Colorado State
Austin White, Michigan to Central Michigan
Toney Williams, Tennessee to Ball State

Wide Receivers

DeAnthony Arnett, Tennessee to Michigan State – Arnett spent one season at Tennessee, catching 24 passes for 242 yards and two scores in 2011. He is petitioning the NCAA for immediate eligibility at Michigan State, but there has been no announcement of his status for 2012. If Arnett can get eligible for this upcoming season, it would be a huge boost to a Michigan State offense that not only has a new starting quarterback, but a receiving corps that loses its top three receivers and No. 1 tight end.

Brice Butler, USC to San Diego State – The Aztecs could have two Pac-12 transfers make a significant contribution to the offense in 2012. Oregon State transfer Ryan Katz is locked in a tight battle for the starting quarterback job, while Butler figures to work his way into immediate playing time with the receiving corps. He caught 41 passes for 554 yards and three touchdowns over the last three years while at USC and should push Dylan Denso and Colin Lockett for playing time in San Diego this year.

Chris Dunkley, Florida to South Florida – If Dunkley lives up to his high school billing, he could become a difference-maker in the receiving corps for South Florida. He redshirted with the Gators in 2010 and transferred before playing a down in 2011. Dunkley was rated by as a top-10 receiver coming out of high school, but he has no playing experience at the FBS level.

Josh Gordon, Baylor to Utah – If the Utes want to push USC for the Pac-12 South title, jumpstarting the passing attack is priority No. 1 for coach Kyle Whittingham and new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. Even though Gordon had off-the-field issues at Baylor, he’s a huge addition for the Utes’ passing game. Gordon caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven scores in 2010, while averaging 17 yards per catch. As long as Gordon doesn’t get into any incidents off the field, he will be one of 2012’s top impact transfers.

Javares McRoy, Florida to Texas Tech – McRoy’s transfer resembles former Florida teammate Mike Blakeley, as he decided to leave Gainesville following spring practice last year. McRoy has excellent speed, and his quickness will be a valuable asset for quarterback Seth Doege this season. McRoy is expected to challenge for playing time at one of the inside receiver positions during preseason workouts.

Bryce McNeal, Clemson to Connecticut – The Huskies desperately need to find some improvement in the passing game in 2012, but it looks like coach Paul Pasqualoni has taken steps to get the offense back on track. Connecticut will bring in two quarterbacks to compete for the starting job, and the team picked up McNeal as a transfer from Clemson. In two years with the Tigers, McNeal caught 19 passes for 187 yards. He should bring some much-needed speed to the receiving corps and will have an opportunity for playing time with the Huskies losing their top two receivers.

Tyson Williams, West Texas A&M to Texas Tech – Williams is one of the most intriguing transfers of 2012. He dominated the competition in two years at West Texas A&M, catching 162 passes for 2,168 yards and 13 scores. The Red Raiders are counting on Williams to be an impact player at one of the inside receiver spots and rank among the Red Raiders’ leading receivers in 2012. If Williams is able to translate his production to the FBS level, Texas Tech's receiving corps will be dangerous, especially with Eric Ward returning and Darrin Moore back to 100 percent.

Others to watch

D.J. Banks, Tulane to Louisiana Tech
Neal Barlow (Arkansas basketball) to Kansas
Bradley Brown, Northwestern State to UL Lafayette
Brandon Felder, North Carolina to Pittsburgh
Devin Figaro, Tulane to UL Lafayette
Austin Fuller, Virginia Tech to SMU
James Louis, Ohio State to FIU
Shakim Phillips, Boston College to Connecticut
Je'Ron Stokes, Michigan to Bowling Green

Tight Ends

Brock DeCicco, Pittsburgh to Wisconsin
Michael McFarland, Florida to South Florida

Offensive Linemen

Brent Benedict, Georgia to Virginia Tech – With four starters gone from the offensive line, Benedict will have an opportunity to earn playing time with the Hokies in 2012. The Jacksonville, Fla. native was ranked as a top 100 recruit by, but suffered a knee injury in high school that required rehab during his freshman year at Georgia. Benedict has three years of eligibility remaining and will likely contend for snaps at tackle in 2012.

R.J. Dill, Maryland to Rutgers – Dill was a staple on Maryland’s offensive line over the last three years, collecting 33 starts and appearing in 37 overall contests. Dill started at right tackle in 2011, but is capable of playing on the left side. With the Scarlet Knights needing to replace three starters up front, look for Dill to emerge as one of the anchors on the line in 2012.

Others to watch

Tayo Fabuluje, BYU to TCU
Cam Feldt, Arkansas to North Texas
Cameron Fordham, LSU to NC State
Sam Longo, Ohio State to Cincinnati
Alex Mateas, Penn State to Connecticut
Jordan Prestwood, Florida State to Notre Dame
Tom Ricketts, Penn State to Pittsburgh
Phil Smith, Georgia Tech to UCF

Defensive Lineman

Forrest West, Colorado to NC State – West’s transfer to NC State didn’t gather much fanfare, but this was quietly a solid pickup for the Wolfpack defense. West registered 19 tackles and 5.5 sacks with Colorado in 2010 and contributed valuable snaps to the defense as a freshman in 2009. The Wolfpack have good depth returning at defensive end, but West should work his way into the rotation.

Brandon Willis, North Carolina to UCLA – Willis has transferred from North Carolina to UCLA twice, but finally appears to be staying with the Bruins and will be eligible in 2012. Willis has yet to play a down of college football, but ranked as one of the top defensive linemen coming out of high school. Willis is expected to contribute to the UCLA defensive line rotation this season.

Others to watch

Derrick Bryant, UCLA to West Virginia
Gerrand Johnson, Missouri to UL Monroe
James Kittredge, Vanderbilt to Michigan State


Brian Wagner, Akron to Arizona – Wagner didn’t gather the fanfare of some of the transfers on this list, but he could end up being one of Arizona's most productive defensive players in 2012. He was a tackling machine in his three seasons at Akron, collecting at least 100 stops in every year. Wagner also picked up All-MAC honors in two out of his three seasons with the Zips.

Others to watch

Ryan Donahue, Maryland to Connecticut
Jonathan Newsome, Ohio State to Ball State
Ryan Paxson, Cincinnati to Buffalo
Uani Unga, Oregon State to BYU
Taylor Walstad, Arizona to UNLV

Defensive Backs

Jonathan Dowling, Florida to Western Kentucky – Coach Willie Taggart has done a terrific job turning around the Hilltoppers and landing players like Dowling will only help this program continue to climb the ladder in the Sun Belt. Dowling was rated as a four-star prospect coming out of high school, but played in only two games at Florida in his freshman year. Dowling certainly has the ability and figures to immediately crack Western Kentucky’s defensive depth chart in 2012.

Shamiel Gary, Wyoming to Oklahoma State – After two successful seasons at Wyoming, Gary transferred back home to Oklahoma to play with the Cowboys in 2012. The Tulsa native picked up 192 tackles and four interceptions during his time with Wyoming. Gary will have two seasons of eligibility and will be counted upon to help ease the loss of first-team All-Big 12 safety Markelle Martin.

Demetri Goodson, Gonzaga to Baylor – Goodson may not make a huge impact at Baylor, but his story to play college football is noteworthy. He started 68 of 69 games during two seasons with Gonzaga’s basketball team, while averaging 5.2 points a game in 2010-2011. Goodson has two seasons of eligibility remaining, but hasn’t played football since his sophomore year in high school. Baylor has been trying to upgrade its speed, depth and athleticism in the secondary, and Goodson should help the Bears’ depth in this unit.

Others to watch

E.J. Banks, Notre Dame to Pittsburgh (may play quarterback this spring)
Darius Barksdale, Jacksonville State to UL Lafayette
Cullen Christian, Michigan to Pittsburgh
Vlad Emilien, Michigan to Toledo
Jay Fullam, Vanderbilt to Air Force
Kolby Gray, Pittsburgh to Baylor
Jordan Haden, Florida to Toledo
Jajuan Harley, Florida State to MTSU
Lazarri Middleton, Nebraska to SMU
Robert Nelson, UL Monroe to Arizona State
Marcus Trice, Oklahoma to North Texas
Ray Vinopal, Michigan to Pittsburgh

A Look Ahead to the Top Transfers to Watch for 2013

QB Daxx Garman, Arizona to Oklahoma State
QB Jake Heaps, BYU to Kansas
QB Tom Savage, Arizona to ?
QB Pete Thomas, Colorado State to NC State
QB Scotty Young, Texas Tech to ?
RB Amir Carlisle, USC to Notre Dame
RB Tra Carson, Oregon to ?
RB Michael Dyer, Auburn to Arkansas State
RB Crusoe Gongbay, New Mexico to Maryland
RB Brandon Williams, Oklahoma to Texas A&M
WR Robert Clark, Florida to Louisville
WR Josh Doctson, Wyoming to TCU
WR Marcus Grant, Iowa to Boston College
WR Justin McCay, Oklahoma to Kansas
WR Matt Milton, Tennessee to Louisville
WR Kyle Prater, USC to Northwestern
WR Darius White, Texas to Missouri
TE Gerald Christian, Florida to Louisville
OT Max Garcia, Maryland to ?
LB Jordan Whiting, Ohio State to Louisville
DB Josh Shaw, Florida to USC

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