Imagining 10 Dream CFB Star Transfers If the 1-Year Penalty No Longer Existed
The transfer portal has changed the college football landscape. Look no further than last year's CFP, which featured former transfers Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Joe Burrow (LSU).
That said, there are still restrictions that require most non-grad transfers to sit out a year after a move before they can suit up with their new team.
So, what would happen if those restrictions were lifted?
That's the scenario Transfer Waiver Working Group is exploring, according to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic.
More than likely, Group of Five teams and non-contending Power Five schools serve as a minor league of sorts for the blue-blood programs to restock their rosters with proven talent each offseason.
Working under this hypothetical scenario, which pretends the one-year transfer penalty no longer exists, we set out to find 10 dream transfers.
The goal was to pinpoint an ideal fit that allowed the player a chance to showcase his talents on a larger stage and the Power Five team an opportunity to improve its playoff odds by filling a need.
Colorado State TE Trey McBride to Notre Dame
Notre Dame standout Cole Kmet is on to the NFL where he could sneak into the back end of the first round as arguably the top tight end in the 2020 draft class. But where does that leave the Fighting Irish at the position?
Tommy Tremble, a 3-star recruit from the 2018 recruiting class, sits atop the depth chart after tallying 16 catches for 183 yards and four touchdowns. Brock Wright, a 4-star recruit in 2017, is also an option despite tallying just four catches for 57 yards the past two seasons.
That means they will likely be relying heavily on incoming freshman Michael Mayer to fill the void. The 5-star recruit was the No. 31 overall player and the No. 2 tight end in the 2020 recruiting class, and his 6'4", 232-pound frame is definitely game-ready.
Bringing in an experienced option to fill the starting role would allow Mayer to develop at his own pace.
Trey McBride had offers from California, Colorado, Kansas State, Navy, Northern Colorado and Wyoming as a 3-star recruit in 2018 before ultimately choosing Colorado State. He caught 45 passes and scored four touchdowns as a sophomore this past year, and his 560 receiving yards ranked 16th among all FBS tight ends.
Syracuse S Andre Cisco to Alabama
Alabama will have two new starting safeties next season with free safety Xavier McKinney leaving for the NFL and strong safety Jared Mayden graduating. Backup Shyheim Carter is also graduating.
Jordan Battle (4-star recruit, No. 43 overall in 2019) and Daniel Wright (4-star recruit, No. 122 overall in 2017) are the leading in-house candidates to step into the starting lineup, but Syracuse safety Andre Cisco would be a huge addition to the Crimson Tide defense.
A 3-star recruit in 2018, when he was the No. 929 overall recruit and No. 73 safety, Cisco has emerged as a legitimate NFL talent in his two seasons with Orange. He has tallied 12 interceptions and 14 pass deflections to go along with 87 solo tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Chris Low of ESPN named him to the 2020 Way-Too-Early All-American team, writing the following:
"In his first season at Syracuse in 2018, Cisco became the school's first true freshman All-American and quickly established himself as one of the top safeties in college football. Now a junior, the 6-foot, 203-pound Cisco enters the 2020 season as the FBS active leader in interceptions (12) and No. 2 in passes defended per game (1.27). He has led the ACC in interceptions in each of his first two seasons, and his best may be yet to come."
What better place to build his draft case than the NFL factory that is the University of Alabama?
Temple WR Jadan Blue to Oklahoma
The departure of CeeDee Lamb leaves a glaring hole in the Oklahoma passing game after the All-American hauled in 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Charleston Rambo will see an increased role after tallying 43 catches, 743 yards and five touchdowns, while rising sophomore Jadon Haselwood has a ton of upside as a 5-star recruit who was the No. 4 player in the 2019 class.
However, the Sooners would no doubt make a push to add more receiving talent if the transfer floodgates were opened.
Jadan Blue was an unheralded 2-star recruit out of Baltimore in 2017, and he chose Temple over offers from Fordham, Lafayette and Monmouth. After catching just three passes in 2018, he emerged as one of the most productive receivers in college football as a redshirt sophomore.
His 95 receptions (seventh in FBS) and 1,067 receiving yards (29th) placed him on the national leaderboard, though he found the end zone just four times.
Lining him up alongside Rambo and Haselwood would give the Sooners a lethal passing attack once again.
Duke DE Chris Rumph II to Ohio State
What better way to replace All-American Chase Young than with another of 2019's most productive edge-rushers?
Chris Rumph II was a 3-star recruit in 2017 who chose Duke over offers from Appalachian State, Austin Peay, FIU, Mercer, UCF and Vanderbilt. After tallying eight tackles for loss and three sacks as a freshman in 2018, he emerged as one of the nation's most dominant pass-rushers last season.
The 6'3", 225-pound defensive end had 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks for the Blue Devils, including a dominant 3.5-sack game against Miami in the regular-season finale.
And he's more than just a pass-rushing specialist.
"[Rumph] was a force off the edge, but also notched 47 tackles and proved to be a true every-down defensive lineman despite being mostly known for his pass-rushing ability," Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports wrote.
He's not the same kind of player as the aforementioned Young, but he would help replace some of his lost production for the Buckeyes defense.
Marshall RB Brenden Knox to Utah
After a productive freshman season sharing the Marshall backfield, Brenden Knox became the team's featured back in 2019.
The 6'0", 220-pound bruiser led Conference USA in rushing attempts (270) and rushing yards (1,387), and he scored 11 touchdowns on the ground while adding another 129 receiving yards.
Not bad for a 2-star recruit.
He topped 100 rushing yards seven times, including a 220-yard game against Florida Atlantic, while proving capable of handling a significant workload.
Utah relied on Zack Moss in a similar capacity during 2019 as he tallied 235 carries for 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season. Devonta'e Henry-Cole is also gone after transferring to BYU, leaving Devin Brumfield (263 yards, 2 TD) and Jordan Wilmore (194 yards, 1 TD) atop the depth chart.
With the graduation of quarterback Tyler Huntley creating uncertainty in the passing game, the Utes would no doubt jump at the chance to add a proven commodity to their backfield.
Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson to Wisconsin
Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson finished fifth in the nation with 1,799 rushing yards last year, trailing only Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard (2,094), Navy's Malcolm Perry (2,017), Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins (2,003) and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor (2,003). He also showed he can handle a huge workload with 312 carries, which was good for fourth in the FBS.
With another 209 yards receiving, he accounted for nearly 40 percent of his team's total yards from scrimmage, and that's exactly the kind of role he would play in the Wisconsin offense.
As mentioned, Taylor eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing for the Badgers last season, and he piled up an eye-popping 6,174 rushing yards during his three seasons on campus.
With Taylor off to the NFL, Nakia Watson moves to the top of the Wisconsin depth chart after rushing for 331 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. He was a 3-star recruit during the 2018 recruiting cycle. The Badgers also have incoming 4-star recruit Jalen Berger, who was the No. 15 running back in the 2020 class, and he could be the future bell cow of the offense.
However, plugging in Patterson would give the offense a sense of continuity while Watson and Berger continue to develop in supporting roles.
Florida Atlantic QB Chris Robison to Washington
With Jacob Eason on to the NFL and highly touted 2021 5-star recruit Sam Huard still a year away, the quarterback position is up in the air for the Washington Huskies.
Here are the leading candidates for the starting job:
- Jacob Sirmon: 4-star in 2018, 19 passing yards in 2019
- Dylan Morris: 4-star in 2019, redshirt
- Ethan Garbers: 4-star in 2020
It looks like an open battle entering the spring, and as the Huskies look to bounce back from a disappointing 8-5 season, a known commodity would go a long way under new head coach Jimmy Lake.
In 2019, Chris Robison threw for 3,701 yards and 28 touchdowns against six interceptions while leading Florida Atlantic to an 11-3 season in his second year as a starter. Originally an Oklahoma commit, he was dismissed by the Sooners for violating team rules, and he struggled through a mediocre 2018 season before breaking out last year.
The Huskies have more in-house options than the other quarterback-needy teams we'll touch on in a moment, so they make more sense as a landing spot for a mid-major quarterback with some baggage and a limited track record of success.
If it works out, great. If not, adding him to the mix will at least serve the purpose of pushing the incumbent guys to get better, and perhaps one of them will emerge as the clear option in 2020.
Ball State QB Drew Plitt to Michigan
The Shea Patterson era has come to a close at the University of Michigan after he threw for 45 touchdowns and won 19 games the past two years.
While head coach Jim Harbaugh has bucked the idea of bringing aboard a transfer to fill the void, he might change his tune if the recruiting landscape were to shift and allow for immediate impact.
Ball State signal-caller Drew Plitt has prototypical size (6'2", 215 lbs) just like Patterson, and he's coming off an excellent junior season in which he threw for 2,918 yards and 24 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. He also more than held his own against a Big Ten opponent last year, throwing for 298 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-24 loss to a good Indiana team.
Plugging him in as the starting quarterback for the 2020 season would stabilize the position for the Wolverines while they wait on 2021 5-star recruit J.J. McCarthy to make his way to campus.
For now, it will be an open competition between senior Dylan McCaffrey and junior Joe Milton in what will be one of the spring's more compelling position battles.
Arkansas State QB Layne Hatcher to Oregon
- Joe Burrow, LSU (202.0)
- Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (191.2)
- Justin Fields, Ohio State (181.4)
- Tanner Morgan, Minnesota (178.7)
- Tyler Huntley, Utah (177.6)
- Layne Hatcher, Arkansas State (167.9)
Here were the six best quarterbacks in the nation last year in terms of passer efficiency rating:
One of those players is not like the others.
A 3-star recruit who began his collegiate career at Alabama, Hatcher transferred to Arkansas State, where he was initially committed during his prep career. During his redshirt freshman season, he threw for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns en route to being the only non-Power Five quarterback to crack the top six in passer efficiency rating.
Hatcher is a pocket passer whose efficiency was fueled by completing 65.8 percent of his passes, good for 18th in FBS among qualified quarterbacks.
A few spots above him on that list is departing Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who checked in at 14th with a 66.8 percent clip. Hatcher may not have the same size (6'0", 210 pounds) and physical tools as Herbert (6'6", 237 pounds), but their success stems from a similar efficiency under center.
The Ducks lack a proven replacement for Herbert, and Hatcher would give them an established option to lead their playoff push in 2020.
Kent State QB Dustin Crum to Oklahoma
Replacing dual-threat quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jalen Hurts will not be easy for Oklahoma after he accounted for 3,851 passing yards, 1,298 rushing yards and 53 total touchdowns in 2019.
Former 5-star recruit Spencer Rattler completed seven of his 11 passes for 81 yards and one touchdown in mop-up duty last year, and he is the leading candidate to take over the job in 2020. However, bringing in some competition is never a bad idea, especially if the transfer restrictions are lifted.
Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum also had an extremely efficient season passing and rushing last year, throwing for 2,625 yards and 20 touchdowns against just two interceptions while adding 707 rushing yards and six more touchdowns.
Not bad for a 2-star recruit whose only scholarship offer came from the Golden Flashes and who has shown more dual-threat ability than expected after being classified as a pro-style quarterback.
It still makes perfect sense to give Rattler every chance to prove he can be the present and future under center for the Sooners, but Crum would give the Big 12 favorites an established signal-caller who more closely fits the mold of the departing Hurts.