The Transfer Portal is one of the most debated and discussed aspects of modern college football. This was a big week for players in the portal, as June 1 marked the end of an NCAA-imposed "dead period" in which potential transfers couldn't visit other schools. Of course, there are plenty who have already transferred.
Love it or hate it, the portal has become an asset for college football teams to fill out their rosters while allowing players the opportunity to find a fresh start. Activity in the transfer portal has grown exponentially since its inception in 2018 and it has become a critical aspect of team-building. With so many players transferring across the country, the 33rd Team wanted to review the offseason and take a look at some of the most talented transfers that may make a huge impact at their new schools.
Henry To’o To’o, LB: Transferred to Alabama from Tennessee
A former blue-chip recruit from the class of 2019, he was a top 50 player in his class coming out of football powerhouse De La Salle in California. He was named a Freshman All-American and totaled over 140 tackles in his two years as a Volunteer. He was one of a handful of Tennessee players that entered the portal as they underwent a staff change late in the offseason. To’o To’o quickly became the most sought-after transfer in the country. With Alabama losing Dylan Moses to the NFL this offseason, look for To’o To’o’s proven playmaking ability in the SEC to help him land a starting position on the Crimson Tide defense this year.
McKenzie Milton, QB: Transferred to Florida State from Central Florida
It isn’t often that a proven starting quarterback with an undefeated season under his belt hits the transfer portal, but Milton’s situation is different than most. McKenzie Milton wasn't a highly touted recruit coming from Hawaii, but his collegiate career thus far proves that he was a miss in the recruiting world. He went 6-6 as a starter in his freshman year, but things really took off for him as a sophomore. Milton led the undefeated UCF Knights to a Peach Bowl win over Auburn in 2017 and he finished eighth in Heisman voting that year. After suffering a major leg injury in 2018 season, he spent that entire offseason enduring surgeries and rehab.
Milton is now fully recovered and leading player-run practices in Tallahassee with his new teammates to learn the playbook as quickly as possible. Milton is the most talented passer to hit the portal this offseason and arguably longer, so he should be prepared to come into Tallahassee and compete for the title of QB1 against incumbent starter Jordan Travis.
Eric Gray, RB: Transferred to Oklahoma from Tennessee
Another talented player leaving Knoxville, Eric Gray was the leading rusher for the Volunteers in 2020 with 772 yards and was second on the team in receptions with 30. That kind of versatility is exactly what Lincoln Riley is looking for to pair with a young, talented QB in Spencer Rattler and the rest of their high-powered offense. DeMarco Murray, OU’s legendary running back and current RB coach, went so far as to compare Gray to himself since Gray arrived on campus. Gray is primed to be one of the primary backs in Oklahoma’s high-scoring offense, pairing with fellow junior RB Kennedy Brooks. Brooks is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, so Gray will have to prove himself quickly if he wants to take over as the featured back in Norman.
Mike Jones Jr., LB: Transferred to LSU from Clemson
LSU is looking to rebound after a lackluster defense of its2019 national championship and Mike Jones Jr. looks to be a major contributor in their bounce back season. A 7-game starter at Clemson and a second-team All-ACC player according to PFF, Jones is an impressive athlete who has proven versatility. Able to drop into coverage and rush the passer, Jones will bring the skillset and the leadership that LSU needs to fill the hole left by Patrick Queen that has really never been filled. Jones may be one-and-done in Baton Rouge if he lives up to his lofty expectations, as the redshirt junior could head to the NFL if he and the Bayou Bengals have a big season.
Arik Gilbert, TE: Transferred to Georgia from LSU
A top 5 player in the class of 2020, Gilbert was the crown jewel of LSU’s recruiting class as the Tigers capped off a national championship year. For whatever reason, Gilbert decided to move on from Baton Rouge in January after having left the team toward the end of the season. Gilbert announced a commitment to Florida shortly after entering the portal; but a verbal commitment from a transfer is much like high school recruiting, where nothing is set in stone until the player is enrolled. Gilbert remained uncommitted for weeks after backing off his verbal commitment to the Gators, but finally made the decision this week to come back to his home state of Georgia. While UGA has struggled to utilize its tight ends recently, they have never had the level of talent that Gilbert brings to the position. Gilbert is an elite level talent who still has all of his eligibility thanks to the NCAA’s decision to not count last season against eligibility, so Kirby Smart and his staff have years to build around their new star tight end.