Impact CFB Transfer Targets Who Can Still Move This Offseason
While the transfer portal has already seen a flurry of activity, several immediate-impact players are still looking for new college football homes.
The most notable players are former 5-star recruits Arik Gilbert and Palaie Gaoteote IV. Gilbert spent one season at LSU, and Gaoteote is departing USC after three years. Recruiting hype, however, isn't the primary draw of most transfers.
Although a couple of other players had a 4-star billing, the remainder of the list features established contributors. Wherever they land—and as long as the NCAA officially passes the one-time transfer rule—they'll be able to play right away.
The list is subjective and ordered based on position.
Zach Charbonnet, RB
As a true freshman in 2019, Zach Charbonnet quickly emerged as Michigan's lead runner. He totaled team-high marks of 149 carries, 726 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But in 2020, his role diminished greatly. After averaging 11.5 carries per contest, Charbonnet totaled just 19 attempts in five games.
He is from the Los Angeles area, so his connection to Pac-12 schools is both natural and expected. On a recent episode of the 247Sports Football Recruiting Podcast, Greg Biggins said UCLA and USC will be heavily involved, with other teams in the conference interested too.
Keith Corbin, WR
Keith Corbin's interesting story will include a second location.
After holding a reserve role for Houston in 2016 and 2017, Corbin caught 40 passes for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018. But the next season, he joined quarterback D'Eriq King and others who took advantage of the four-game redshirt rule. Corbin returned in 2020 and posted 27 receptions for 352 yards.
Now that former San Jose State wideout Tre Walker has turned pro instead of staying in the transfer portal, Corbin may be the most coveted receiver. His career totals are 94 catches, 1,467 yards and 13 scores.
Arik Gilbert, TE
Given the amount of production LSU needed to replace on offense in 2020, just about everyone anticipated Arik Gilbert would play an important role. And, for the most part, he did.
LSU primarily targeted wideouts Terrace Marshall Jr. and Kayshon Boutte, who both had at least 45 catches for 700-plus yards. Gilbert, though, was a decent complementary piece. In eight games, he snagged 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns.
However, that'll be his only season in Baton Rouge.
Brandon Drumm of 247Sports noted Florida and Georgia are key contenders for Gilbert, though Oklahoma is also interested.
Tennessee's Barrage of Starters
The ugly truth is it appears Tennessee investigated itself for recruiting violations as a way to fire Jeremy Pruitt for cause. And the immediate aftermath is not friendly for the program.
Offensive tackle Wanya Morris already left for Oklahoma, and four other starters are leaving. Running back Eric Gray, offensive tackle Jahmir Johnson and linebackers Henry To'o To'o and Quavaris Crouch all entered the portal Wednesday night.
Every one of them will have multiple suitors, especially To'o To'o and Crouch. They totaled 76 and 57 tackles last season, respectively, ranking first and third on the team.
Palaie Gaoteote IV, LB
Injuries overshadowed Palaie Gaoteote IV's game in his three seasons at USC, but his upside is still intriguing.
As a freshman in 2018, he posted 38 tackles with 4.5 for loss and two sacks. Gaoteote collected 58 takedowns with three TFLs during an injury-shortened 2019 campaign before a concussion limited him to two games in 2020.
There's no clear landing spot for Gaoteote. Several connections are obvious, though.
Michigan State is a team to know because the Spartans signed his brother, 4-star linebacker Ma'a Gaoteote, in the 2021 class. Miami is active in the portal annually and needs linebackers, and Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett is Gaoteote's cousin.
Rashie Hodge Jr., LB
Rashie Hodge Jr. entered the portal in September but is still waiting for the right opportunity.
Perhaps the interest level is lower than we expected, but the New Mexico State standout merits attention after a productive 2019 season. Hodge, a junior-college transfer, racked up 90 tackles with 10 for loss, forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass. He then opted out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns.
Hodge can provide valuable depth at linebacker, especially for a lower-end Power Five school.
Reynard Ellis, LB
Reynard Ellis began his career at Furman, transferred to Georgia Southern and developed into a key member of the defense. He tallied a team-high 86 stops in 2019 and finished third with 59 in 2020, opting out shortly before the season ended.
On the field, he's a reliable run defender with decent pass-rushing upside. One unknown is an off-field disagreement, which is not to suggest a problem but is worth noting.
"There were some things that we didn't see eye-to-eye on," GSU coach Chad Lunsford said of the linebacker, per McClain Baxley of the Savannah Morning News. "I said this is the way it's going to be, he didn't agree and he decided to opt out."
Ellis has two seasons of eligibility left and, like Hodge, is talented enough to join the rotation of a Power Five team.
Jalen Green, CB
Considered a top-50 prospect in the 2018 recruiting cycle, Jalen Green had an up-and-down career at Texas. The cornerback held a regular role in 2019 and 2020, recording 44 tackles, seven pass breakups and an interception during those two years.
Despite his inconsistency, though, it's not a matter of whether he's capable of playing at this level. The bigger question is Green's position: Should he play corner or move to safety?
That answer may have a substantial impact on both the teams pursuing Green and his decision.
Blake Mazza, K
This is a decent offseason to need a kicker. USC and Alabama transfers Chase McGrath and Joseph Bulovas are available, though the prized player is Washington State's Blake Mazza.
Mazza handled the place-kicking duties from 2018 to 2020, hitting 34 of his 40 field-goal attempts. Most notably, he was a finalist for the 2019 Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's best place-kicker. That season, Mazza connected on 20 of 21 field goals and 55 of 57 extra points.
In a social media post, Mazza—who is from Texas—thanked WSU and said he plans to transfer closer to home.