College Football Transfers Who Will Have the Biggest Impact in 2019

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 9, 2019

College Football Transfers Who Will Have the Biggest Impact in 2019

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    The second week of the college football season is complete, and most teams are preparing for important divisional games. Playmakers are establishing themselves and earning more opportunities, and several of the best arrived by transferring into greener pastures.

    The transfer portal's emergence as a quick gateway for cross-country relocations has been a game-changer.

    A few of the nation's leading quarterbacks, in particular, are recent transfers. We're not just looking at quarterbacks here, but they dominate this list of the most impactful transfers due to the importance of the position.

    Eight difference-makers across the country have already set themselves apart at this early juncture and are in line for massive seasons.

Shane Buechele, QB, SMU

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    It took three years and a transfer for Shane Buechele to see the type of success he found as a freshman with Texas in 2016.

    The SMU quarterback is now the maestro of Sonny Dykes' high-scoring system, and the program has jumped out to a 2-0 record. He even outplayed North Texas star quarterback Mason Fine in Week 2, which isn't an easy accomplishment considering how productive Fine has been throughout his career.

    It's a fitting homecoming for Buechele as he's closer to his alma mater, Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas. He was incredibly productive in high school and is back producing scoring drives of every sort. He had four of more than three minutes against Arkansas State, but only one of seven scoring drives against North Texas took longer than three minutes.  

    Dykes' offense offers unique passing concepts and has featured talented quarterbacks such as Jared Goff and Davis Webb in the past. Buechele is more like Webb than Goff in terms of his raw throwing ability, but that's not a slight.

    The Mustangs will continue to create headaches as long as he keeps taking care of the ball and hitting downfield passing windows.

Tavien Feaster, RB, South Carolina

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    The former top all-purpose running back recruit, per 247Sports, who was stuck behind Travis Etienne at Clemson, Tavien Feaster was no slouch for the Tigers. The bulldozing back runs as hard as anyone in the country, showing terrific power and fearlessness when faced with contact.

    The Gamecocks picked up one heck of a back via transfer.

    South Carolina's offense has already suffered a loss as quarterback Jake Bentley broke his foot, and Feaster's presence will help freshman Ryan Hilinski transition into a starting role. He has already contributed 136 yards and one score on the ground, in addition to his efforts in the receiving game and as a pass-blocker. He's the bell-cow back this team has lacked for years.

    Feaster's efficiency for his build (6'0", 221 lbs) is especially impressive. He's never averaged less than 2018's 5.6 yards per carry. He's already up to 7.2 through two games, showing his capability as a lead back away from Clemson.

    Watch for Feaster's role to continue growing as Hilinski leans on him for stability and playmaking. 

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

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    Per 247Sports, Justin Fields was the No. 2 player in the lauded 2018 recruiting class, just behind Trevor Lawrence, and there was little doubt the 6'3", 223-pound quarterback would be able to play at a quality level.

    His size, athleticism, arm talent and knack for extending plays meant he'd find success, but he needed the right situation to maximize those traits. Ohio State under head coach Ryan Day is looking like the right choice two games into his Buckeyes career. 

    The Georgia transfer's outing against Cincinnati already showed growth after his debut against Florida Atlantic. He compiled 295 total yards and five touchdowns in the opener but left plays on the field as he held onto the ball a little too long on several plays. Those mistakes didn't show up against the Bearcats while Ohio State decimated its in-state foe. 

    His learning curve doesn't seem as steep as those of most young quarterbacks based on his ability to self-correct. Of course, his season won't truly be judged until he faces tougher matchups later in the season, but Fields' natural talent and intelligence have already stood out.

    He and Day have lethal potential.

James Gilbert and Jordon Brown, RBs, Kansas State

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    New Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman knew he needed to remake the running back room upon his arrival in order to build the program in his image. His North Dakota State teams were often factories for running backs, able to plug and play a new one whenever needed and still produce. 

    Landing transfer backs James Gilbert and Jordon Brown was critical.

    Gilbert, from Ball State, has already produced 218 yards, three touchdowns and a whopping 8.4 yards per carry. Former North Carolina back Brown is more of a speedster who can contribute in the passing game, and he's compiled 151 total yards and two touchdowns on 8.4 yards per touch.

    The Wildcats have a clear identity as they hit the meaty part of their schedule. They're going to rely on the ground game to shorten the clock and overcome some athletic limitations on the roster. Expect Gilbert and Brown to be at the forefront of their Big 12 push.

Jonathan Greenard, Edge, Florida

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    After missing the 2018 season due to a broken wrist suffered on the first defensive series of the year, pass-rusher Jonathan Greenard took advantage of his graduate transfer eligibility and relocated to Florida. He's already making an impact with the Gators, notching six tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

    Greenard came with an accomplished resume from Louisville, so it's not surprising he's producing already. He was the Cardinals' co-leader with seven sacks and sole leader with 15.5 tackles for loss in 2017. It made sense for him to rejoin the coach who recruited him to Louisville: Todd Grantham.

    He's already gaining more fans at the next level, as well.

    Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy tweeted his positive takeaway from Greenard's first game with the Gators, noting he's now on the radar for consideration at the major event. That's a loud statement about what NFL personnel think of his talent level. 

Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

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    The most important endorsement in college football is the one Lincoln Riley gives when he identifies the quarterback of his choice. Jalen Hurts is the latest transfer quarterback to flourish under the Oklahoma Sooners coach, making an early case for the third consecutive Heisman Trophy to land in Norman. 

    Hurts' numbers through two games have been absolutely absurd. He's totaled 591 passing yards and six touchdowns on an 82.9 percent completion rate with an additional 223 yards and three scores on the ground. The senior hasn't needed any time to adjust to his new surroundings thanks to his leadership, skill set, and the incredible situation Oklahoma offers. 

    The schedule will certainly pick up soon, and that's where Hurts' value will shine through. He's battle-tested after three years at Alabama, and his poise will be invaluable against Texas, Iowa State, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State.

Tommy Stevens, QB, Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead quickly jumped at the chance to reunite with former Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens once he entered the transfer portal. The fit thus far has been perfect despite Stevens suffering an undisclosed injury in the Bulldogs' second game.

    In his limited time, the quarterback has quickly adjusted to his new but familiar situation.

    He's completed 29 of 40 attempts for 341 yards and four touchdowns in about six quarters of action. His athleticism inside and outside the pocket has been a welcome bonus to his accurate arm and quality decision-making. If he's healthy enough to return to the lineup, the Bulldogs are going to give every team they play a competitive game.

    Stevens brings a playmaking aspect that was lacking on the roster. Moorhead can scheme favorable matchups as well as nearly any coach in the country, but the quarterback must still be able to make plays.

    The Penn State transfer has looked the part in his limited time and can elevate the program in 2019.