Predicting Landing Spots for Biggest Names in the Transfer Portal
One of the busiest intervals of the college football season is currently underway. The first window of the CFB transfer portal opened on Dec. 5, leading to over 1,000 early entries. While some of these prospects will serve as rotational pieces for new programs, there's a handful of budding stars in the market.
Some of the highest ranked prospects in the transfer portal class include veteran quarterbacks like Devin Leary, Hudson Card and D.J. Uiagalelei. The two highest ranked prospects in the 247Sports ratings include cornerbacks Denver Harris and Fentrell Cypress.
Many of these players will test the waters in the early stage of the portal, taking official visits to possible schools and speaking with coaching staff members at other programs. While it's been just over a week since the portal officially opened, there's been buzz around the following players, giving us a perfect time to predict their landing spot.
Devin Leary, NC State Wolfpack QB
NC State transfer Devin Leary is the most sought after quarterback on the market. Leary hit the transfer portal after his redshirt junior season with the Wolfpack. He recorded 11 touchdowns and 1,265 yards in six games this season after he was ruled out with a torn pectoral muscle. Leary is currently ranked as the No. 1 quarterback prospect and No. 3 overall prospect in the 2023 transfer class.
The hype around Leary comes from an illustrious career at NC State where he was the first quarterback to start as a redshirt freshman since Russell Wilson in 2010. Injuries and inexperience derailed his early time as the signal caller, but in 2021 Leary opened the eyes of everyone in the college football world. On paper he was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, notching 35 touchdowns and 3,433 yards, with just five interceptions and 65.7 completion percentage.
Leary could pick and choose which program fits best for his style of play, or he could turn the corner and head back to Raleigh. He needs to be in a position where he starts at the 2023 season because he has just one year of eligibility remaining, unless there's a waiver involved.
Prediction: Florida Gators
Dominic Lovett, Missouri Tigers WR
There's always space for a talented receiver on any roster, especially one like Dominic Lovett who has yet to reach his full potential, waiting on the right offensive scheme. In two active seasons for the Missouri Tigers Lovett has been a consistent threat in the pass game, jotting three touchdowns and 846 yards on 56 receptions in 2022.
The Tigers are constantly sitting at the bottom of the SEC. They've been able to compete on multiple occasions, especially this season, but they're nothing more than mediocre. For the second straight season, they've won six games, which likely doesn't sit well for such a skilled player like Lovett. Missouri has already replaced some of his production with the recent commitment of Theo Wease, so it's Lovett's turn to test the waters.
Lovett might be one of the most underrated players in the transfer portal after having one of the best receiving seasons in the NCAA's best conference. Potential landing spots that have been mentioned with Lovett include Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama and Colorado.
Prediction: Texas Longhorns
D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson Tigers QB
D.J. Uiagalelei went into Death Valley with pressure on his shoulders. Uiagalelei was listed as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class, as well as the No. 10 overall prospect. He had to follow the act of two Heisman Trophy winners, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. With his high school tape, it seemed like Uiagalelei was ready for the big stage, but he never grew into his full potential with a seemingly poor fit at Clemson.
In his final season with the Tigers he had 22 touchdowns and 2,521 yards on a 62.1 completion percentage. Uiagalelei would have some incredible games and there's clear talent to show on his resume, but he was streaky for the Tigers and didn't seem to consistently play the offense as head coach Dabo Swinney insisted.
One of Uiagalelei's biggest factors in commitment could be the possibility of teaming up with his younger brother. Five-star edge Matayo Uiagalelei recently dropped his top three finalists, which could be in correlation with his brother. The top three schools were Oregon, Ohio State and USC, with one of those schools being the main contender for a quarterback.
Prediction: Oregon Ducks
Jaheim Bell, South Carolina Gamecocks TE
The hybrid tight end, wide receiver build that so many teams aspire to have is now available. South Carolina tight end Jaheim Bell entered the transfer portal after three seasons in Columbia. He wasn't a highly recruited player out of high school, but that's definitely changed with his college film.
During the 2022 season, Bell finished with five total touchdowns, 492 total yards and 25 receptions. Bell had just three games with over two receptions, mainly being used in the backfield at the end of the season. In the final four games, the 6'3 tight end had 54 carries. He was used in so many different ways for SC's offense, which should light a spark in any coach across the nation.
Bell is another pass catcher that seems to be leaving his current situation to play with a prominent quarterback, seeking an opportunity to win consistently. He recently visited Florida State and is one of the few players in the portal that currently has a 247Sports crystal ball. Another option for Bell has been said to be the USC Trojans.
Prediction: Florida State Seminoles
Fentrell Cypress ll, Virginia Cavaliers DB
Virginia defensive back Fentrell Cypress ll has flown under the radar for most of his football career. He was recruited to the Cavaliers as the No. 91 cornerback in the 2019 class and the No. 951 overall player. Heading into the 2023 transfer portal cycle, Cypress is now listed as one of the top transfers on the market.
Cypress finished the 2022 season with one fumble recovery, 13 pass breakups and 39 total tackles. He was rarely targeted by opposing quarterbacks, despite constantly having the responsibility to cover the opponents best pass catcher. There weren't too many star receivers, but Cypress held down a shaky defensive lineup in Charlottesville.
Some of the most respected programs in the country have been listed as possible suitors for Cypress. A consistent defensive back is a player that any team would love to have on their roster, so Cypress can definitely be picky in his decision. He'll likely want to go to a winning program in the Power 5 that's already cemented themselves as a threat in their conference.
Prediction: Ohio State Buckeyes
Hudson Card, Texas Longhorns QB
Texas has had the benefit of having a solid backup quarterback in Hudson Card for the past couple of years. Card decides to pack his bags and depart from Austin as the Longhorns quarterback room continues to get loaded with highly touted prospects like Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning.
He has three years of eligibility remaining with relief film from injuries to Ewers and previous quarterbacks. Card had three starts this season, ultimately marking six touchdowns and 928 yards with just one interception. The hometown prospect has shown that his greatest strength is ball security with great decision-making.
Card will likely end up at an established program that's looking for a quarterback to step in right away. He's most likely on the hunt for a starting role, so a team that's losing a signal caller to the draft or a team with a solid roster around the position would be ideal.
Prediction: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Mason Cobb, Oklahoma State Cowboys LB
The Oklahoma State Cowboys will go through drastic changes in the 2023 offseason. They've lost a plethora of starters following the regular season, with one of the biggest names being linebacker Mason Cobb. He was the anchor of the Cowboys defense after earning his way into the lineup year by year.
Cobb had a team-high 96 tackles on the season, with combined and solo hits. He was flying around the gridiron all year for the Cowboys, adding one interception, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and two sacks. He's currently rated as the No. 1 available linebacker and the No. 6 overall defender.
Utah seemed to be a great fit when he first entered the portal, since the Utes will be losing some key pieces after the season, but that doesn't seem like the leading candidate at the moment. He's a rare case in being involved with just one team at the moment, despite the desire from many programs to get him on campus. Cobb currently has a visit to Texas A&M scheduled.
Prediction: Texas A&M Aggies
Denver Harris, Texas A&M Aggies CB
A member of the notorious 2022 Texas A&M high school class, Denver Harris decided to transfer out of College Station after just one season. The true freshman entered the portal as the No. 1 available prospect. Harris was listed as a five-star recruit out of Houston, Texas.
In the drama filled year with the Aggies, the cornerback had three passes defended and 14 tackles. He looked to be in a prime position to have a solidified starting role early in the season, but Harris was a part of the locker room incident that led to multiple players being suspended from the program.
This history may hurt Harris' pitch to teams across the nation, but there's no denying that he's already a potential starter on most programs and his potential is through the roof. Prior to his commitment to the Aggies, Harris was visibly adamant about staying close to home, with his final four schools being Texas, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M.
Prediction: LSU Tigers