B/R Recruiting: Potential Impact CFB Players in the Transfer Portal, Part 2

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2021

B/R Recruiting: Potential Impact CFB Players in the Transfer Portal, Part 2

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    Welcome to the college football silly SZN on steroids, thanks to the one-time transfer rule and this year's higher-volume-than-usual coaching carousel.

    On Monday alone, the transfer portal was smoking. Twitter refreshers got carpal tunnel.

    Teams around the nation are using the portal to pluck instant-impact players who can be the difference in good seasons or championships, bowl eligibility or watching from home.

    A couple of weeks ago, Bleacher Report looked at some of the top names in the portal who've not yet found second (or sometimes third) homes. But that group just upgraded in a major way this week, and others are sure to follow.

    The quarterback and running back entrants, especially, brought the "wow" factor. There's a game-changing defensive back who has recently decided to look elsewhere too. 

Jadan Blue, Wide Receiver

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    One of the purest reasons to like the transfer portal is it gives small-school standouts the opportunity to test their talents against top-notch competition.

    This can act as an NFL springboard.

    So, when a player such as Temple graduate transfer wide receiver Jadan Blue enters the portal after playing four years for the Owls, he's one of those stories you root for.

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Isabella DiAmore, Blue is the only player in program history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season after he compiled 1,067 in 2019. He's also Temple's No. 2 all-time pass-catcher.

    This has been a forgettable season for Temple, and the Owls have watched seven players enter the transfer portal, including starting quarterback D'Wan Mathis (a former Georgia signal-caller). The 6'6" Mathis is intriguing, but Blue is the most proven player of the bunch.

    The 6'0", 190-pound pass-catcher from Maryland will get plenty of opportunities to outfit a marquee program somewhere and possibly boost his pro profile. There's plenty to like about his game, including experience, speed and good hands.

Antonio Doyle Jr., Linebacker

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    Antonio Doyle Jr. is one of the most intriguing defensive names in the portal.

    The 6'3", 250-pound linebacker looks like he can be the quarterback of a defense right away. He is a former 4-star , top-100 prospect in the 2020 class out of St. Louis.

    That is the trifecta of big-time attributes: He has the size, the talent and the eligibility remaining to be a coup for somebody.

    Doyle already has told Fox 2 Now's Gregg Palermo he has heard from Missouri and Illinois since entering the portal, and there will be other suitors. The one-time Tigers commitment noted Florida State, SMU, Colorado, Purdue as other teams that have called.

    "I just felt like year two kind of not where I wanted to be at, where I expect to be at in my career so I feel like I just need to take a different path into my career," Doyle Jr. told Palermo.

    He played in eight games this season but was moved from linebacker to edge-rusher. Most of his impact for the Aggies has been on special teams.

    The move may be a glimpse of things to come for a player who has seen his strength skyrocket since being in a college weight program. He may want a chance to stay on the second level of the defense at linebacker, but having the versatility to get after quarterbacks can be an asset too.

    Doyle's high school coach, Carl Reed, told 247Sports Jeff Tarpley in 2019 Doyle can play "at any school in the country."

Zach Evans, Running Back

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    When it comes to sheer talent, you'll have a hard time finding anybody who is as electric and possesses the type of skill set that former TCU running back Zach Evans does.

    After the Horned Frogs parted ways with head coach Gary Patterson, you'd think as much as new coach Sonny Dykes throws it around, it wasn't as attractive of a situation for Evans.

    Whatever the case, plenty of teams will knock on his door. Even in a crowded backfield in Fort Worth, he shined.

    The Houston native ran for 648 yards and five touchdowns and caught 10 balls for 130 yards and another score as a true sophomore this year. Last season, he accumulated 415 yards and four rushing scores. Both seasons, he averaged 7.0 or more yards per carry.

    Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to make a house call, and he can be the centerpiece of an offense.

    Despite several disciplinary actions from his high school team during a wild recruitment that saw him flirt with several programs, sign with Georgia only to back out, take his recruitment past national signing day and quietly wind up with the Horned Frogs, his time in Fort Worth has been uneventful.

    Does Evans want to play in the SEC? Texas A&M and Georgia were firmly in the mix with him out of high school. Kentucky could be another team to watch, with its ability to run the ball.

Dillon Gabriel, UCF Quarterback

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    Apparently, Dillon Gabriel had no interest in remaining a passenger on the Gus Bus at Central Florida.

    Under previous coach Josh Heupel, Gabriel was one of college football's top stars at quarterback, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for more than 7,200 yards and 61 touchdowns from 2019 to 2020 as an underclassman.

    A broken collarbone has sidelined Gabriel since September, but before that, he looked on track for another big year in new coach Gus Malzahn's offense, completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 818 yards and nine touchdowns in three games. For whatever reason, though, Gabriel is seeking a new home.

    "After much prayer and reflection, I have decided my journey at UCF has come to an end," Gabriel wrote on social media. "I will be entering the transfer portal to explore other opportunities." 

    The southpaw looked like he was on the fast track to Heisman Trophy consideration before his career in Orlando was over.

    Destinations haven't materialized yet for Gabriel, who's been in the portal for mere days. With Heupel possibly getting Hendon Hooker back for another year in Knoxville, maybe Tennessee isn't a practical landing spot.

    Perhaps the most viable option would be reuniting with former offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who is Lane Kiffin's coordinator at Ole Miss. With Matt Corral heading to the NFL, Gabriel to the Rebels would make a whole lot of sense for both parties.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Running Back

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    Perhaps the best running back available is former Georgia Tech do-it-all star Jahmyr Gibbs.

    The late-blooming prospect from Dalton, Georgia, was a long-time Yellow Jackets commitment who saw his recruitment skyrocket with offers from Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and others late in the 2020 cycle.

    Ultimately, he stuck with Tech, where he starred for two seasons. This year, the second-year running back finished third in the nation in all-purpose yards. 

    He ran for 746 yards and four touchdowns, added 470 yards receiving and 589 yards on kick returns for 1,805 all-purpose yards. It seemed the piled-up losses were just too much for Gibbs to endure, though.

    "Thank y'all for believing in me and showing me nothing but love through the good and bad times," Gibbs wrote on Twitter, alluding to his teammates and running backs coach Tashard Choice.

    Several programs have surfaced as potential destinations for Gibbs, including Tennessee, where SI.com writer Matt Ray called Gibbs a "perfect fit" for the system. Clint Brewster of 247Sports mentioned the Vols, along with Alabama and Michigan State, as potential spots for Gibbs.

    Whoever wins the sweepstakes will get a player who can suit up for three more years and do pretty much everything his coach asks. As a matter of fact, some teams even recruited him as a defensive back out of high school.

Tiyon Evans, Running Back

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    One of the biggest catalysts for Tennessee's offensive rejuvenation was running back Tiyon Evans.

    The JUCO transfer offensive playmaker from South Carolina appeared in just seven games largely because of an ankle injury, but he had 525 rushing yards and was the Vols' most productive back when healthy. Evans also missed the spring with an injury.

    Jabari Small and quarterback Hendon Hooker both surpassed Evans' rushing total in the season finale against Vanderbilt, but Evans was a centerpiece of the rushing attack.

    Blessed with a low center of gravity and a second-level burst that saw him run away from defenders in big wins over South Carolina and Missouri, Evans is a 5'11", 220-pound runner from Hartsville, South Carolina, who came to the Vols after a strong career at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College.

    Heupel told GoVols247's Patrick Brown about Evans' decision to transfer: "Wish him nothing but the best."

    He doesn't have the "bright-lights, big-name" headlines like Zach Evans and Jahmyr Gibbs, but he has an NFL skill set, including size, speed and game-breaking ability.

    If he wants to head to the pros, he needs to prove he can stay healthy throughout the grind of the season. Somewhere like Shane Beamer's South Carolina would keep him in the SEC and get him closer to home. 

Jadon Haselwood, Wide Receiver

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    The fallout from Lincoln Riley's departure from Oklahoma has been college football's version of Let There Be Carnage.

    A mass recruit exodus has ensued in Norman, and that includes a pair of top playmakers. This likely won't be the end of the bad news before the Sooners find another coach.

    One of the biggest losses is elite wide receiver Jadon Haselwood, who announced via Instagram on Monday he plans to leave Norman. The Ellenwood, Georgia, pass-catcher is a 6'3", 202-pound star receiver who was a 5-star and the No. 4 overall player in the 2019 class.

    Despite battling injuries the first part of his career after choosing Oklahoma over a list of virtually everybody in the nation, he began to show his massive potential this season with 39 catches for 399 yards and six touchdowns.

    Even through a quarterback change and some hiccups in offensive continuity from time to time, Haselwood made a difference in a crowded group of impact receivers. He was never quite the prospect everybody expected him to be out of high school, but he has three years of eligibility remaining.

    This is exactly the type of big-time player who could head to another team and be the centerpiece of a passing game. 

Mycah Pittman, Wide Receiver

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    When Mycah Pittman signed with the Oregon Ducks as part of the 2019 recruiting class, he was one of the big-time prospects who marked head coach Mario Cristobal's onslaught of California recruiting.

    The 5'11", 200-pound pass-catcher from Calabasas and the brother of former USC star and NFL running back Michael Pittman Jr. was supposed to be a huge playmaker for the Ducks. But that never happened.

    With the way Cristobal has continued to recruit, Pittman has been lost in the shuffle and recruited over. But the former top-100 prospect is far from finished with his college career. He's got two more years to star somewhere.

    When asked about Pittman playing for the Ducks, Cristobal said: "He won't be. He's moving on. We're moving on. We wish him the best and we don't judge," Cristobal said, according to SI.com's Kendyl Beam.

    This season, injuries plagued Pittman as he tried to become a bigger part of the offense. Even so, he showed he could be an impact player with limited touches. He had 12 receptions for 197 yards and returned 15 punts for 151 yards, averaging 10.1 yards per return with a long of 33 yards.

    Pittman was a running back in high school, and he can do a lot of things. This is a guy who had offers from the biggest programs in the nation out of high school such as USC, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and others. 

Terrence Lewis, Linebacker

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    Coming out of high school in South Florida, Terrence Lewis was the top-rated linebacker in the 2020 recruiting class.

    The 6'1", 200-pound Opa Locka, Florida, prospect was all over the field, which is why he was a 5-star prospect and the No. 21 player overall.

    Lewis was a long-time Tennessee commitment (and one-time Florida pledge) who flipped to Mike Locksley's Maryland Terrapins and figured to be a big part of the rebuilding of that defense this year, along with Demeioun Robinson, Branden Jennings and Taizse Johnson. Of all the schools recruiting him, he headed furthest from home.

    Unfortunately for him, though, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and injured his shoulder before arriving in College Park. Both of those injuries required surgery, so Lewis did not play in 2021.

    Still, he was expected to be a huge part of Maryland's defense as an explosive sideline-to-sideline player who could bulk up and do a lot of things on the second level.

    He and Jennings (who played as a freshman and posted 23 tackles and a forced fumble) both have entered the portal in the past couple of days.

    It's far too early for a list of teams to emerge for Lewis' landing spot, but somewhere in the SEC or ACC would probably be a safe bet, as he might want to get closer to home. It's no guarantee he will be the same type of player he was before the injuries, but there is a whole lot of upside in his game.

    He has his entire collegiate eligibility in front of him and could be a steal for somebody the second time around.

Jack Miller III, Quarterback

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    During the preseason, Ohio State had a crowded-but-talented group of underclassmen at quarterback. While C.J. Stroud was the favorite to win the job, Kyle McCord and Jack Miller III were highly regarded prospects in the mix. When Quinn Ewers reclassified to the '21 class, things got even more interesting.

    You knew not everybody was going to stick around in Columbus.

    The first domino fell this week when Miller entered the portal. 

    With Stroud a Heisman Trophy favorite and a year away from pro eligibility, Miller was the obvious choice. He'd fallen behind McCord in the pecking order, and Ewers' immense potential as the No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class makes him a future star.

    Miller was arrested in early November and appeared in court for misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle while impaired and driving in marked lanes. The team also suspended him but reinstated him later that month after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless operation.

    The 2020 4-star prospect from Scottsdale, Arizona, was a huge pull from the West for head coach Ryan Day. However, perhaps a change of scenery is best for all parties.

    Miller has too much talent for another Power Five program not to take a big swing.

Spencer Rattler, Quarterback

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    The names aren't big enough for you yet? Try preseason Heisman Trophy favorite and former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, who announced Monday that he was entering the transfer portal after a shaky season in Norman.

    Following a brilliant close to 2020, Rattler seemed primed to become Riley's first homegrown superstar at quarterback. But it never materialized.

    Instead, Rattler was ineffective, didn't take care of the ball and lost his job to true freshman Caleb Williams. He reentered the lineup a couple of times afterward, but he never could seize the job from the talented first-year player.

    After the 6'1", 200-pound signal-caller completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions a year ago, he saw an uptick in completion percentage (74.9 percent) this year, but he tossed 11 touchdowns and five picks. He threw for 1,483 yards in nine games.

    Rattler is probably one of the few players whose departure doesn't have anything to do with Riley leaving for USC.

    He has way too much talent to not have a wealth of options. He'll go somewhere where he can thrive in a wide-open offense and could turn into one of the biggest stars in the game.

Eli Ricks, Cornerback

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    You can bet everybody will be inquiring about former LSU 5-star cornerback Elias Ricks, who was a freshman All-American in 2020 and decided to seek new environs last week, according to Rivals.com's Sam Spiegelman.

    Sidelined since Week 6 with a torn labrum that required surgery this year, Ricks should have at least three years of eligibility remaining.

    He may not need that many; Ricks is an NFL prospect waiting to happen. It will be intriguing to watch whether he delays his decision long enough to see who's hired at LSU.

    If not, it could make sense for him to return closer to his California home. Ricks is a 6'2", 195-pound defensive back who hails from Rancho Cucamonga, but he transferred to IMG Academy in Florida to play his senior season and signed with Ed Orgeron out of high school.

    Of course, you can never rule out Georgia and Alabama when it comes to landing top-shelf defenders, so they may be in the mix too.

    He teamed with Derek Stingley Jr. to form a potentially formidable cornerback tandem that never really produced the way many thought it would, but he is as talented as they come, possessing the size and speed to be an elite playmaker.

Paul Tchio, Offensive Lineman

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    Credit: 247Sports

    One of the most difficult positions to find key contributors is along the offensive line, which is why a player who saw the field for Clemson as a sophomore this year will intrigue a lot of teams.

    Paul Tchio was a member of the 2020 recruiting class, when he was a consensus 4-star prospect and the No. 3-rated guard in the class. It looked like he would be a key part of the Tigers' future.

    But according to Clemson's SB Nation site, Tchio logged 101 snaps this year. He became the latest of a string of Clemson players to bolt, joining running backs Michel Dukes and Lyn-J Dixon and safety Joseph Charleston.

    The Alpharetta, Georgia, native should have plenty of suitors. With at least three years of eligibility remaining, a prospect of Tchio's caliber brings a lot of positives.

    Perhaps it speaks volumes Tchio couldn't cement his role on a Tigers offensive line that has struggled throughout the past two seasons, but given that he's so young, it shouldn't be too much of a red flag.

    At 6'5", 310 pounds, he has the size and strength to make an impact.

    Tchio is without a doubt one of the 10 transfer prospects with the most potential.

DeaMonte Trayanum, Running Back

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    With Rachaad White almost certainly heading to the NFL, 2022 looked to be DeaMonte Trayanum's time to shine for head coach Herm Edwards in the Arizona State offensive backfield.

    That's not going to be the case, barring a major change.

    The 5'11", 235-pound sophomore bowling ball out of Akron, Ohio, entered his name into the transfer portal Monday, becoming the third big-name player at the position on the day to bolt his original school of choice, joining Gibbs and Evans in what is suddenly a bumper crop of backs.

    Trayanum (who goes by "Chip") is a quality runner, even if his statistics don't quite back it up—because he's never gotten the opportunity to be the primary back.

    Somebody will give him a chance, much like the Sun Devils likely would have in '22.

    This season, the second-year player had 78 carries for 401 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and scoring six times. Last year as a true freshman, he had 290 yards and four scores in a crowded backfield. He battled injuries earlier in the season, which dampened his numbers.

    Trayanum is a bruising every-down back who can run the ball between the tackles and has the burst to run away from defenders on the second level too. But his workload diminished as the year progressed, as he mustered just 18 carries the final four games of the season.

    He'll have at least two years of eligibility remaining wherever he goes.

Jacob Zeno, Quarterback

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    There aren't any high-profile quarterbacks with multiple years of eligibility in the portal more intriguing than former Baylor signal-caller Jacob Zeno.

    The 6'2", 211-pound redshirt sophomore from San Antonio burst onto the scene in 2019 when he stepped under center for an injured Charlie Brewer in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma.

    On the Bears' biggest stage of the season, he completed two of six passes for 159 yards, including an 81-yard scoring toss to Trestan Ebner, which is tied for longest pass play by a Baylor freshman.

    That glimpse showed Zeno's massive arm strength, but he never quite put things together after that. When Brewer left for Utah and Dave Aranda replaced Matt Rhule as the Bears' coach, Zeno couldn't beat out Gerry Bohanon. 

    He's thrown just 11 passes in the past two seasons and is looking elsewhere. But Zeno is another guy who should be considered a high-ceiling option with his arm strength and mobility. He has a bigger upside than fellow transfer QBs Harrison Bailey and Chubba Purdy.

    Zeno excels in the run-pass option offense, looking his best when moving the pocket and getting to flash that strong arm on the run. With three seasons of eligibility remaining, he has a ton of moldable traits that will intrigue offensive coordinators around the country.

    If Zeno can reach his full potential, it's possible he can develop into an NFL prospect. That's why teams are going to be lining up to try to get the talented underclassman to finish his career in their program.


    Recruit rankings via 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.