The college football transfer leads a funny life.
The NCAA rule requiring transfers to sit out one year sometimes means fans, teams, and the recruitosphere at large lose track of the athletes everyone was buzzing about two years ago.
From what Ryan Mallett did for Arkansas last year and Jevan Snead did for Ole Miss two years ago, we've seen the immediate impact transfers can have on the success of a program.
I expect the following 10 transfers to behave no differently. Though in some cases not as visible as Mallett or Snead, these 10 players bring recruiting hype and a chance at a fresh start to programs that, arguably, needed them more and are holding on to them tighter than their old programs did.
SI's Andy Staples recently profiled McGuffie, who showed flashes of his YouTube-phenomenal self as a true freshman but, between injuries and family issues, grew homesick and transferred from Michigan to Rice.
A redshirt year to bulk up and mature into a starting role turned out to be exactly what McGuffie needed. Early practice returns are very positive.
That said, blowing past Rice defenders in scrimmages doesn't necessarily compute to 120 yards and the winning touchdown in the Owls' opening date against Texas.
No, I don't smell a top-10 upset brewing, but I'd bank on McGuffie pushing 1,000 yards and keeping it close against Baylor and Northwestern before really blowing up in Conference USA play.
For a program still getting its recruiting feet under it, the transfers of Chris Harper—a former four-star athlete to Rivals who left Oregon for Kansas State after an unsuccessful try at Ducks' quarterback—and Brodrick Smith—Rivals' No. 69 wide receiver and the fourth-best player from Kansas in 2008—were welcome news indeed for the Wildcats.
In spite of his age, Bill Snyder can fashion a six-win season, short of a bowl (two wins were against 1-AA/FCS opponents), and renewed competitiveness with the in-state rival Jayhawks from makeshift players from the Ron Prince era.
He did this by putting KSU's best athletes on the field and leaning on them time and again.
For 2009, that meant a heavy dose of WR/RB Brandon Banks, who ended the year with 705 yards receiving and four kickoff returns for touchdowns.
For 2010, I expect to see Harper—who fits the mold of a Wildcat quarterback—periodically back in shotgun and also split wide; and Smith, a tall (6'3"), physical wide receiver, taking on defensive backs in jump balls downfield.
Snyder signed a strong, immediate-impact JUCO class in 2010 that should shore up KSU on the offensive and defensive lines.
With luck, the experience of State's newest players—albeit at other schools—will give the Wildcats that last boost of talent they need to get over the hump and back into a bowl game for the first time since 2006.
Willie Mobley transferred out of Ohio State and was aiming to get into UCLA but couldn't get his grades high enough. He accepted a scholarship to Arizona this past summer.
The Wildcats lost seven starters from their defense, as well as coordinator Mark Stoops, so Mobley's task of anchoring the middle of the line is a tall one.
Still, the buzz on Mobley was positive as a recruit—he was 2007's No. 9 defensive end—and it looked more like grades than motivation were interfering on this one (though I could be wrong here).
Ohio State's defensive staff can spot great defensive linemen, particularly of late—trust me as a Michigan fan—so the Wildcats have cause to be excited about Mobley as an instant-impact player.
As long as motivation was not the real issue, he should be something special.
A loophole in the NCAA's policy on graduate programs (the same one that allowed Greg Paulus to start for Syracuse) allows former Clemson QB Willy Korn to play immediately for the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Korn started a few games as a redshirt freshman for Clemson but never secured a hold on the job. After losing out to Kyle Parker last year, Korn chose to make his transfer official.
There's no guarantee he'll see playing time at Marshall either. The Herd return Brian Anderson, a senior at QB. But his transfer provides immediate depth and competition at the QB spot (he was Rivals' No. 5 dual-threat QB back in the day).
Though nothing close to a Chad Pennington-esque season, I predict Korn to push Anderson and see some playing time against Ohio State, West Virginia, and Bowling Green to start the year. Low expectations, nothing to lose, etc. are sometimes ideal motivators for players that failed to live up to the hype the first time around.
This is a Herd team that got a whiff of the postseason in last year's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl win over Ohio. Coach Doc Holliday brought in an above-average recruiting class for Marshall, some of whom defected from their original commitments to West Virginia (where Holliday was recruiting coordinator).
The Herd also return Conference USA's fourth-best rusher in RB Darius Marshall, who had a 1,131-yard, 11-touchdown breakout season as a true freshman in Mark Snyder's last year before resigning.
With that as a base, Korn could help Marshall do more.
Sure, some of it is my rah-rah Michigan homerism talking, but I also do believe former Wolverine and now Arizona State Sun Devil Steven Threet has found the right program to match his talents.
In his only year at Michigan, Threet might have looked like a walking metaphor for the state of the program—awkward, loping, injured, and without place.
But he also had guts, fight, the things statistics-driven models can't measure in a quarterback, and that the more cynical bloggers of the contemporary era want to pretend don't exist, and never have.
Imagine actually wanting to get out on the field during Michigan's dreadful 2008 season—I don't think many of us can quite understand how that forges a player.
A lingering elbow injury kept his effectiveness down after a half-season, but when healthy, Threet can be a winner. He's accurate on the deep ball, he's got the recruiting background, and he's waited his turn—he just needs a little luck.
I say, good luck to him.
Texas Christian's running game was a three-headed monster last year (four if you count QB Andy Dalton).
Freshmen Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley and senior Joseph Turner combined for over 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns to help the Horned Frogs to an undefeated regular season and a BCS bowl.
Tucker and Wesley are back and are joined by UCLA transfer Aundre Dean, the 10th-best running back of the 2008 class, who hails from Katy, Texas.
He was a decorated back as a recruit, winning state championship player of the year (that's like being vice-governor of Texas) and rushing for 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns on 330 carries.
The UCLA decision was found to be incorrect, but I imagine TCU's versatile offense fits more with what Dean played in as an East Texas kid. Another possibility mentioned was that with Wesley and Tucker providing good depth, Dean could switch to safety.
TCU's chances at going undefeated against another above-average but by no means gangbusters schedule get a lot better with Dean's explosiveness and decorated pedigree as an athlete added to the depth chart in some form.
I expect him to lead Tucker and Wesley for the starting job right out of the gates, though all three should again see their share of carries.
Vidal Hazelton was Rivals' No. 2 wide receiver in the 2006 class and led the USC Trojans' wide receiving corps in 2007.
Injuries curbed his production in 2008, but when he was on, he was on—the above catch against Idaho is a case in point.
He transferred to Cincinnati to be closer to his ailing grandfather, sitting out the 2009 season.
Hazelton, now a senior, and junior wide receiver Armon Binns should be QB Zach Collaros' favorite targets this season. Collaros, a junior, was strong filling in for Tony Pike, although he appeared to lose confidence late in the season and was repeatedly switched out during red-zone plays.
First-year head coach Butch Jones showed what he could do with athletic QBs like Collaros at Central Michigan, turning QB Dan LeFevour into the NCAA's all-time leading scorer.
He should be able to open the playbook and get Vidal and Binns involved early.
Expect to see Hazelton stretching out under the lights as the Bearcats compete for a third straight Big East title, once again as a dark horse.
Probably the athlete with the most at stake on here—and one you'll be hearing plenty more about as we approach kickoff—Phelon Jones is a defensive back who transferred from LSU to Alabama in 2008.
Jones is one of the few players on Alabama's roster with starting experience at corner, albeit for the rival Tigers. He started two games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and played sparingly throughout the year before seeing his hold on the job slip away.
He was the 10th-best athlete in the 2007 class and the sixth-best from the state of Alabama, so his recruiting background is pretty sound.
Nick Saban brought Jones up in a brief discussion for who he saw competing for Alabama's four starting DB spots. I could see him factoring into the depth chart as either a corner, nickelback, or possibly safety (at 6'0" and pushing 200, he's large enough) in Alabama's notoriously complicated passing defense.
Defensive back is a position that will be closely watched as the Tide tries to replace nine total starters from last year's championship defense.
Phelon has the rings—now, he just wants to feel like he earned them.
Marve was one of the more sought-after pro-style QBs in the 2007 class. He chose Miami, and after redshirting as a true freshman, he started 11 games of Miami's awkward, transitional-in-retrospect 2008 season.
After reputed beefs with the Miami coaches, he sought and was granted a transfer. He wound up at Purdue.
Despite missing a bowl, the Boilermakers were a surprise competitor in the Big Ten. They were Ohio State's only loss and outshot a Michigan team in the Big House for the first time in a bajillion years (someone check my numbers).
The pieces are in place at the skill positions. Keith Smith, a somewhat slow but reliable possession threat, finished with 1,100 yards receiving, and running back Ralph Bolden (another of those good Purdue running backs no one ever talks about) fell shy of the millennium mark but had nine touchdowns.
Marve has a year more of starts than anyone else on the roster, and the recruiting sauce to back it up. He's leading the QB competition now.
If the Boilermakers are still in good shape on defense, and Danny Hope can
stop classlessly taunting the crowd continue overachieving, I think we have our Big Ten dark horse, legitimately this time.