Winners and Losers of the College Football Transfer Portal so Far
As has become tradition in the college football offseason, there isn't a busier place than the transfer portal.
Well over 1,000 players from Football Bowl Subdivision programs alone have entered the portal, hoping to find a better fit on the other side. Naturally, that moment is affecting several teams in a major way—both positively and negatively.
In the early stages of the 2022 transfer cycle, a few SEC schools and a Pac-12 squad have seemingly gained the most talent. Conversely—and not coincidentally—four programs that replaced their head coach are dealing with immense turnover.
Winner: Arkansas Razorbacks
Based on recruiting ratings, Arkansas easily has the highest-profile pair of incoming transfers.
Arkansas also landed a pair of LSU players. The marquee addition was cornerback Dwight McGlothern, who started for the Tigers and posted 32 tackles last season. Edge-rusher Landon Jackson was a top-125 prospect in the 2021 recruiting cycle.
Defensive backs Greg Brooks Jr. and Joe Foucha both left Fayetteville for LSU, so it's not a complete sweep for the Razorbacks. But the incoming talent is very strong.
Loser: Oklahoma Sooners
Lincoln Riley's departure to USC both hammered the recruiting class and sparked a wave of transfers.
Along with Haselwood's flight for Arkansas, breakout quarterback Caleb Williams entered the portal. Though it's still possible he returns to Oklahoma, the most likely outcome is he plays elsewhere in 2022. Even though OU swiped UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel from UCLA, Williams would be a significant loss.
And that's merely the beginning.
Former starting QB Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner both left for South Carolina. Longtime safety Patrick Fields went to Stanford, and two promising freshmen—wideout Mario Williams (USC) and cornerback Latrell McCutchin (undecided)—also decided to transfer.
Oklahoma picked up some impactful transfers, including Cal guard McKade Mettauer, Hawaii D-lineman Jonah La'ulu and Appalachian State linebacker T.D. Roof. But that's a long list of key departures.
Winner: Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss has nearly reached 20 outgoing transfers since the beginning of the 2021 season, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Still, while it's entirely likely some would've made a larger impact in future years, the number of past contributors is low.
And the Rebels anticipate a handful of new faces will headline the roster in 2022.
Running back Zach Evans (TCU) averaged 129.7 yards from scrimmage in six games last year, and offensive tackle Mason Brooks (Western Kentucky) landed first-team All-Conference USA recognition. Star linebacker Troy Brown (Central Michigan) garnered first-team All-MAC honors in three straight years, and safety Isheem Young (Iowa State) was a two-year standout in the Big 12.
Wide receiver Jordan Watkins (Louisville) topped 500 yards last season. Defensive tackle J.J. Pegues and safety Ladarius Tennison both contributed in rotational spots at Auburn.
Although the Rebels probably lost a couple of future standouts, they gained plenty of established talent.
Loser: Oregon Ducks
If college teams were allowed to trade—totally unreasonable, but play along—what would be the price for a quarterback? Auburn and Oregon might have stumbled on a reasonable equivalent.
Oregon attracted three-year starter Bo Nix from the SEC program in hopes of solidifying the QB position. However, the Ducks watched backup quarterback Robby Ashford, defensive tackle Jayson Jones and cornerback DJ James all leave for Auburn.
Former head coach Mario Cristobal's exit for Miami put a dent in the depth chart.
Winner: South Carolina Gamecocks
Stellar work from South Carolina, really.
Most notably, the Gamecocks picked up Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. He struggled in 2021, sure, but a program that has generally lacked top-level QBs certainly won't complain about landing a onetime Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Plus, running back Christian Beal-Smith (Wake Forest), wideout Antwane Wells Jr. (James Madison) and tight end Austin Stogner (Oklahoma) also played integral roles at their previous stops. Wells, who racked up 83 receptions for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns, is a massive pickup for Shane Beamer's team.
And on defense, South Carolina added safety Devonni Reed (Central Michigan). He was a four-year starter and two-time All-MAC player for the Chippewas.
Loser: Virginia Cavaliers
This transfer cycle has become a huge obstacle for Virginia, which practically lost an entire offensive line.
Left tackle Bobby Haskins (USC), left guard Joe Bissinger (SMU), center Victor Oluwatimi (Michigan) and right tackle Ryan Swoboda (UCF) started or played key roles in 2021. New coach Tony Elliott has no choice but to rebuild the blocking unit.
The linebacker group has a similar dilemma with the departures of Noah Taylor (North Carolina) and West Weeks (LSU). Defensive tackle Aaron Faumui (undecided) entered the portal too.
Factor in 10-plus others potentially leaving via the portal, and Elliott's first offseason is loaded with challenges.
Winner: Arizona Wildcats
Arizona had a miserable 2021 campaign, finishing 1-11 with the seventh-fewest points per game (17.2) in the nation.
Two transfers in particular should help reverse that frustration.
Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura threw for 2,789 yards and 23 touchdowns last year. Wide receiver Jacob Cowing amassed 69 catches for 1,367 yards and totaled eight scores. They should immediately be foundational pieces of UA's scoring attack.
The defense also landed edge-rusher Hunter Echols (USC), defensive tackle Tiaoalii Savea (UCLA), linebacker Anthony Solomon (Michigan) and safety DJ Warnell (UCLA).
Loser: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana coach Billy Napier didn't simply take a handful of assistants to Florida; no, several players followed him to Gainesville as well. Right guard O'Cyrus Torrence, running back Montrell Johnson and reserve lineman Kamryn Waites transferred to Florida.
And a few other key contributors left the Ragin' Cajuns.
Running back Emani Bailey (TCU), cornerback Mekhi Garner (LSU) and wideout Kyren Lacy (LSU) found a power-conference landing spot. Bailey collected 808 all-purpose yards last season, and Garner paced the defense with eight pass breakups.
Louisiana figures to remain competitive in Michael Desormeaux's debut as head coach, but the transition will be a bit more difficult than the program hoped.