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Pac-12 Football: Ranking the Transfer Classes for 2022

Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans Football

New USC head coach Lincoln Riley turned to the transfer portal and his Oklahoma ties to overhaul the Trojans' roster

The immediate eligibility rules and transfer portal have significantly changed how all 131 FBS college football teams build their roster, and few teams were as active in seeking additions than USC this offseason. New coach Lincoln Riley landed 13 transfers, including star quarterback Caleb Williams and help for a defense looking to take a big step forward under the new staff. In addition to landing a top-25 recruiting class, Arizona coach Jedd Fisch reeled in a solid haul of instant help from the portal, which includes former Washington State signal-caller Jayden de Laura. Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA each added key players through the portal, while Washington and Washington State both potentially added a starting quarterback for '22.

How do the transfer classes for the 2022 college football season rank in the Pac-12? Athlon Sports has ranked all 12 Pac-12 teams by the biggest impact of its transfers for this upcoming year:

Pac-12 Football: Ranking the Transfer Classes for 2022

1. USC
Key Additions: QB Caleb Williams; RB Austin Jones; RB Travis Dye; WR Mario Williams; WR Brenden Rice; WR Terrell Bynum; OL Bobby Haskins; DL Tyrone Taleni; DL Earl Barquet; LB Romello Height; LB Shane Lee; CB Latrell McCutchin; CB Mekhi Blackmon

Key Losses: QB Kedon Slovis; QB Jaxson Dart; RB Kenan Christon; WR Bru McCoy; WR Joseph Manjack; TE Michael Trigg; OL Liam Douglass; DL Jake Lichtenstein; DL Maninoa Tufono; DL Ishmael Sopsher; LB Kaulana Makaula; LB Hunter Echols; LB Juliano Falaniko; LB Raymond Scott; CB Jayden Williams; DB Chase Williams

The outlook at USC has changed dramatically with Lincoln Riley in control over the last three months. Thanks to Riley’s arrival and a strong staff in place, along with a standout haul of transfer talent, the Trojans can compete for the Pac-12 title after finishing 4-8 last fall. Williams should be one of the nation’s top quarterbacks after following Riley from Norman, and the skill talent around him improved thanks to the arrival of two running backs and three receivers. Haskins is a key pickup in the trenches for an offensive line that needs to improve in ’22. The concerns in the trenches extend to defense, but Taleni and Barquet (along with more potential additions) will help. Lee, Height, McCutchin and Blackmon will all compete for snaps on a defense returning only three starters.

Related: Early Pac-12 QB Preview and Rankings for 2022

2. Arizona
Key Additions:
QB Jayden de Laura; WR Jacob Cowing; OL Jack Buford; DL Tiaoalii Savea; LB Hunter Echols; LB Anthony Solomon; LB Jeremy Mercier; DB DJ Warnell

Key Losses: RB Bam Smith; WR Jaden Mitchell; WR Tayvian Cunningham; WR Brian Casteel; WR Jalen Curry; DL Regen Terry; DL Alex Navarro-Silva; LB Rourke Freeburg; CB Malik Hausman; S Rhedi Short; DB McKenzie Barnes

Arizona’s hopes of a second-year jump under coach Jedd Fisch received a significant boost with the team’s transfer portal additions. De Laura earned Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors at Washington State last year after throwing for 2,789 yards and 23 touchdowns. Cowing was one of the top deep threats as a receiver in college football last season. In 13 games with the Miners, Cowing grabbed 69 catches for 1,367 yards (19.8 per catch) and seven scores. Arizona’s defense also added much-needed reinforcements, with Savea, Echols and Solomon likely to make the biggest impact.

3. Arizona State
Key Additions:
QB Paul Tyson; RB Xazavian Valladay; TE Messiah Swinson; OL Emmit Bohle; OL Chris Martinez; OL Des Holmes; DL Nesta Jade Silvera; LB Rodney Groce; DB Khoury Bethley; DB Chris Edmonds; K Robert Liss

Key Losses: QB Jayden Daniels; RB DeaMonte Trayanum; WR Geordon Porter; WR Junior Alexander; WR Johnny Wilson; DB Tommi Hill

Exploring the portal for instant help on both sides of the ball was a necessity for Arizona State. The program has been marred by coaching turmoil and turnover since the start of 2021 and is currently under NCAA investigation. As a result, the Sun Devils brought in a lackluster recruiting class, complicating efforts to reload a depth chart with just eight returning starters. Tyson will compete for the starting quarterback job with Daniels opting to depart, and Valladay arrives in Tempe after recording two 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Wyoming. Three transfers add depth to a line with just two returning starters. Silvera and Bethley should be impact players on defense.

4. UCLA
Key Additions:
WR Titus Mokiao-Atimalala; WR Jake Bobo; DL Gary Smith III; DL Jacob Sykes; LB Darius Muasau; LB Laiatu Latu; CB Azizi Hearn

Key Losses: WR Chase Cota; WR Keontez Lewis; DL Tiaoalii Savea; DL Tyler Kiehne; LB Mitchell Agude; LB Myles Jackson; LB A.J. Campbell; CB Josh Moore; CB Jay Shaw; DB Shamar Martin; DB DJ Warnell; P Luke Akers

Both sides of the ball suffered losses to the portal, but UCLA alleviated some of those departures with a solid haul of transfers. Mokiao-Atimalala (12 catches at UCF) and Bobo (74 at Duke in ’21) add much-needed talent to a receiving corps losing Cota and Lewis to transfer, along with Kyle Philips and Greg Dulcich to the NFL. Chip Kelly’s defense returns only three starters next year, so the additions at all three levels are crucial pickups. Muasau (a first-team All-Mountain West selection from Hawaii) could be an impact defender for UCLA in ’22.

5. Oregon
Key Additions:
QB Bo Nix; WR Chase Cota; DL Sam Taimani; DL Jordon Riley; DB Christian Gonzalez; K Andrew Boyle

Key Losses: QB Robby Ashford; RB Travis Dye; RB Cross Patton; RB Trey Benson; WR Spencer Curtis; WR Mycah Pittman; TE Cooper Shults; OL Kingsley Suamataia; OL Kai Arneson; OL Logan Sagapolu; DL Jayson Jones; DB Jaylin Davies; DB DJ James

Nix was an important pickup for new coach Dan Lanning. The former Auburn signal-caller gives the Ducks a proven (and capable No. 1 quarterback) to start until Ty Thompson is ready to take over. Cota caught 67 passes in four years at UCLA and adds depth to the receiving corps after the departure of Devon Williams, Mycah Pittman and Johnny Johnson III. Three starters must be replaced in the secondary, but Gonzalez started 18 games at Colorado and should push for a starting job right away. Taimani and Riley add depth to the defensive line.

Related: Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2022

6. Washington
Key Additions:
QB Michael Penix Jr.; RB Aaron Dumas; WR Junior Alexander; LB Cam Bright; CB Jordan Perryman; K/P Kevin Ryan

Key Losses: WR Terrell Bynum; WR Sawyer Racanelli; TE Mark Redman; DL Sam Taimani; LB Jackson Sirmon; LB Laiatu Latu; LB MJ Tafisi; LB Will Latu; LB Cooper McDonald; K Tim Horn

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Penix opted to transfer from Indiana and reunite with his old offensive coordinator and new Washington coach Kalen DeBoer. Penix has a big-time arm and the skill set to thrive in DeBoer’s offense, but he struggled to stay healthy during his four years with the Hoosiers. Dumas and Alexander boost the depth at skill spots. Bright (58 tackles) and Perryman (a transfer from FCS UC Davis) could push for starting spots on defense.

Related: 5 Priorities for New Washington Coach Kalen DeBoer

7. Washington State
Key Additions:
QB Cameron Ward; DL Nusi Malani; LB Daiyan Henley; S Jordan Lee

Key Losses: QB Jayden de Laura; QB Cammon Cooper; WR Joey Hobert; OL Brian Greene; OL Cade Beresford; OL James McNorton; OL Dylan Mayginnes; OL Jack Beresford; LB Nicholas Sheetz; LB Marquise Freeman; LB Willie Taylor III; S Halid Djibril; K Andrew Boyle

After a prolific ’21 season at Incarnate Word, Ward is one of the most intriguing transfers to watch this fall. The Texas native won the Jerry Rice Award as the top FCS freshman during the ’21 spring season and threw for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns at UIW last year. Malani, Henley and Lee are needed pickups for a defense returning six starters but features holes to fill at linebacker and in the secondary.

8. California
Key Additions:
QB Jack Plummer; DL Xavier Carlton; LB Jackson Sirmon

Key Losses: RB Christopher Brooks; WR Nikko Remigio; TE Gavin Reinwald; OL McKade Mettauer; DL JH Tevis; LB Evan Tattersall; CB Jaylen Martin; CB Chigozie Anusiem

Losing Brooks, Remigio, Mettauer, Tevis, Tattersall and Anusiem is a blow for a team coming off a 5-7 season, but coach Justin Wilcox also added three players who should help in ’22. Plummer will compete with Zach Johnson and Kai Millner to start at quarterback, and Carlton (18 tackles at Utah) and Sirmon (92 tackles at Washington) are potential difference-makers on defense.

9. Utah
Key Additions:
TE Landon Morris; TE Logan Kendall; LB Mohamoud Diabate; LB Gabe Reid

Key Losses: QB Peter Costelli; OL Simi Moala; DL Xavier Carlton; LB Jeremy Mercier; CB Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson

The Utes didn’t have any major losses to the portal this offseason, while landing Diabate and Reid is good news for a defensive front with a few holes to fill after the departures of Mika Tafua up front and Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell at linebacker. Both players could play a role as an edge rusher after Diabate recorded 14 tackles for a loss in three years at Florida, and Reid accumulated 23 in that span at Stanford. Kendall and Morris add depth to a tight end room that should be among the best in college football in ’22.

Related: Early Pac-12 Predictions for 2022

10. Colorado
Key Additions:
QB Maddox Kopp; RB Ramon Jefferson; WR RJ Sneed; OL Tommy Brown; DL Chance Main

Key Losses: RB Jarek Broussard; RB Ashaad Clayton; WR Brenden Rice; WR Dimitri Stanley; WR La’Vontae Shenault; TE Alec Pell; OL Kanan Ray; DL Jayden Simon; CB Chris Miller; CB Mekhi Blackmon; S Mark Perry; DB Christian Gonzalez; Trustin Oliver

The losses outweigh the gains in the portal for the Buffaloes. Broussard paced the team in rushing over the last two years, while Rice and Stanley were two of the team’s top options at receiver. The secondary was also decimated by the departures of Blackmon, Perry and Gonzalez, as all three players projected to be starters in ’22. Sneed (46 catches at Baylor in ’21) provides a boost to the receiving corps, and Jefferson (1,907 yards in two years at FCS Sam Houston State) alleviates the loss of Broussard. Brown ranked as a four-star prospect in the ’18 signing class and played in 29 games over the last three years at Alabama.

11. Stanford
Key Additions:
DB Patrick Fields

Key Losses: RB Austin Jones; RB Nathaniel Peat; RB Houston Heimuli; DL Ryan Johnson; DL Joshua Pakola; DE/LB Andres Fox; LB Gabe Reid

The Cardinal suffered heavy losses to the portal. Peat (404 yards) and Jones (378) were the team’s top rushers in ’21. Johnson, Fox and Pakola were rotational pieces in the defensive front, but Reid (23 TFL over the last three years) is a big loss. Fields accumulated 80 tackles and two interceptions at Oklahoma last fall.

12. Oregon State
Key Additions:
LB Andrew Chatfield

Key Losses: QB Sam Vidlak; WR Champ Flemings; CB Jojo Forest

Chatfield – a former four-star recruit – accumulated 19 tackles over three seasons at Florida. He should help a defense losing standouts Avery Roberts (9.5 TFL) and Andrezj Hughes-Murray (8.5 TFL) in the linebacking corps.

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