The transfer portal has changed college football as we know it. With a one-time allowance for immediate eligibility without having to sit out a year, players can freely move from one team to another with no penalty. Some have likened it to NFL free agency and are against such things happening at the amateur levels of the sport, while others feel that it is merely fair for the players to be able to move about freely as coaches do.
Regardless of one’s thoughts about the process and the transfer portal in general, it is a part of the new age of college football. This off-season has been a busy one in the transfer portal, with hundreds of players entering and looking for a new place to call home.
Out of those hundreds, we expect the following 10 players to be the most impactful going into the 2022 college football season:
1) Caleb Williams — From Oklahoma to USC
Williams made a name for himself when he replaced Spencer Rattler mid-game against Texas and never looked back. After taking Rattler’s job he decided to follow head coach Lincoln Riley to USC rather than remain at Oklahoma, and with the departure of the other starting caliber players from that position group via the transfer portal, he appears to be the guy for Riley’s first season at the helm in Los Angeles. He was considered the top available recruit in the transfer portal and is currently one of the favorites for the Heisman trophy. Considering he does not have to adjust to a new system, as long as he builds upon what he did last year he should be in contention for it.
2) Jordan Addison — From Pittsburgh to USC
Last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner was the subject of some turmoil when the possibility of his transfer due to NIL opportunities came to light. Regardless of the circumstances, he did end up transferring, and he decided his destination would be USC to join Coach Riley and fellow transfer Caleb Williams. The hopes for that combination of play caller and offensive weapons are sky high, and there is reason to suspect otherwise considering what Riley and Williams did without Addison at Oklahoma.
3) Jahmyr Gibbs — From Georgia Tech to Alabama
Undoubtedly the most talented and electrifying part of the Georgia Tech offense since stepping on campus, Gibbs made the decision to hit the transfer portal following yet another disappointing season for the Yellow Jackets as a team. Gibbs was arguably the only potential NFL starter in his old locker room. He decided to take his talents to Tuscaloosa and join the long line of high caliber running backs to strap it up for Alabama. He is currently considered a contender for next year’s Heisman trophy, which just goes to show how talented he is and how much he was held back by his former team.
4) Quinn Ewers — From Ohio State to Texas
After breaking the hearts of Longhorn fans everywhere by reclassifying to the 2021 recruiting class and enrolling at Ohio State, Ewers has come home to take the reins of the Longhorn program. A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Ewers was heavily sought after by top programs all across the country. It has been a while since Texas has had a top tier talent under center to lead the team back to the national spotlight, and while Sam Ehingher declared the program back after the 2018 season, they have disappointed in each season since. Could Ewers be the one to finally bring Texas back?
5) Spencer Rattler — From Oklahoma to South Carolina
After losing his job to Caleb Williams mid-season, Rattler decided a change of scenery was in order. He ended up choosing South Carolina to reunite with former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer. After being propped up as a Heisman favorite and the probable No. 1 overall draft pick for last year, a fresh start in a new place could be exactly what Rattler needs to bounce back from a very disappointing 2022. South Carolina has struggled in recent years, but Beamer and his staff have built a solid foundation after year one and have added on to it with a solid haul in the transfer portal with Rattler as the crown jewel.
6) Jermaine Burton — From Georgia to Alabama
Burton surprised many when he entered the transfer portal fresh off of a National Championship season in Athens. As Georgia’s second leading receiver on the season, Burton projected to be a large part of the offense to complement freshman phenom Brock Bowers moving forward into 2022. Whether his reasoning was the possible shift towards what could be a more tight end-centric passing attack with Arik Gilbert finally returning to the field or the prospect of catching passes from Bryce Young rather than Stetson Bennet, Burton will be a key figure in a Crimson Tide wide receiver room that has depended on the transfer portal this cycle.
7) Zach Evans — From TCU to Ole Miss
Originally a five-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class, Evans was initially committed to Georgia before the coaching staff made the decision to release him from his letter of intent due to off field concerns. Evans averaged over 7 yards per carry in his two seasons at TCU, and eventually decided that it was in his best interest to transfer to the SEC to bolster his draft stock. Having found a new home at Ole Miss, there is little doubt that a play caller such as Lane Kiffin will find creative and electrifying ways to work Evans into the Rebel offense.
8) Kedon Slovis — From USC to Pittsburgh
Slovis was at one point considered a no-doubt future first round pick after a stellar freshman season for USC. As so often happens with way-to-early projections, he has so far failed to live up to those expectations and replicate what he showed in 2019. This by no means makes him a bust or a failure as a college quarterback, but much like Spencer Rattler he has simply not lived up to exceedingly high expectations placed upon him by both the media and fans alike. Slovis made the decision to get out of town for a fresh start in Pittsburgh, a team that found itself in need of a quality starter after Kenny Pickett moved on to the NFL.
9) Jaxson Dart — From USC to Ole Miss
With the departure of Matt Corral for the NFL, Coach Kiffin needed a new quarterback to lead his team. He found just that in the form of the second quarterback to transfer from USC this offseason. Dart took over the Trojan offense full time in the middle of the season and threw for over 1,300 yards in 6 games while splitting time with Kedon Slovis — and without top-10 pick Drake London available for most of those games to boot. Dart was a late riser in the 2021 recruiting class, and it appears Lane Kiffin liked what he saw from the young quarterback this past season in his limited playing time enough to bring him in as the heir apparent to Matt Corral.
10) Eli Ricks — From LSU to Alabama
Ricks struggled with injury this past season at LSU, but during his freshman year in 2020 he performed well enough to be named a third team All-American. He projects as an immediate starter for a team that was already one of the favorites for a National Championship before he decided to join. His addition to the back end of a defense that already has players like Will Anderson, Dallas Turner, and Jordan Battle does nothing but make them an even stronger contender for the 2022 title.