Shea Patterson and the rest of college football’s high impact transferes

NCAAF


The past two weeks have brought big news in the college football transfer world.

Starting with quarterback Shea Patterson, a group of six former Ole Miss players received waivers to play immediately at new FBS programs for the 2018 season (a seventh, wide receiver Van Jefferson, likely will soon get clearance at Florida). Patterson might be the answer Michigan sorely needs to spark its offense, while several other ex-Rebels should immediately help their new teams.

More graduate transfers are starting to secure new homes. Texas might have found its starting running back in former Cal starter Tre Watson, while West Virginia added another graduate transfer defensive lineman in Jabril Robinson, who had been a reserve at Clemson.

Several notable players who are graduating announced they’ll be headed to other teams, including Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow.

As the transfer market takes shape, here’s a look at those who can make an impact for the 2018 season.

TRADITIONAL TRANSFERS

Deontay Anderson, S, Houston: Ed Oliver won’t be the only decorated recruit playing for Houston’s defense in 2018. Anderson, ESPN’s No. 1 safety and No. 41 overall recruit in the 2016 class, should give the Cougars a major boost. He played 12 games for Ole Miss as a true freshman in 2016 — he voluntarily sat out last year before transferring to Houston in December — and had 32 tackles and an interception that year.

Jovon Durante, WR, Florida Atlantic: Lane Kiffin’s record-setting offense adds a potentially huge piece in Durante, who returns home to South Florida after starting 17 games at West Virginia. Durante caught 60 passes for 726 yards at WVU, averaging 15.8 yards per reception as a freshman in 2015. He joins an Owls offense that averaged more than 40 points last season but had relatively modest numbers in the passing game.

Breiden Fehoko, DE, LSU: A defensive front that loses Arden Key and Christian LaCouture needs productive players to step up. Fehoko brings experience after starting two seasons for Texas Tech, but he’ll need to be more productive in a superior league for LSU. ESPN’s No. 51 overall recruit in the 2015 class had 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks for the Red Raiders.

Jake Fruhmorgen, OT, Baylor: Offensive line should be a strength for Baylor, which returns four starters along with Fruhmorgen, who started eight games at right tackle for Clemson during the Tigers’ national championship season in 2016. The 6-foot-5, 293-pounder is expected to handle left tackle duties for the Bears this fall.

Jonathan Giles, WR, LSU: Wide receiver talent hasn’t been LSU’s primary issue on offense, but Giles gives the Tigers a proven player after the loss of D.J. Chark. Giles started seven games for Texas Tech in 2016, leading the team with 1,158 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 69 receptions. He’s a big-play threat who had 14 plays go for longer than 25 yards that season.

Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame: Safety is by far the biggest question mark on what should be one of the nation’s better defenses following a resurgent 2017 season. Gilman, who was denied immediately eligibility last summer, started 12 games for Navy in 2016 and finished second on the team with 76 tackles, to go with five pass breakups. He’s in line to start for the Irish in the fall.

Damon Hazelton, WR Virginia Tech: The Hokies need playmakers on offense to help young quarterback Josh Jackson, especially after losing do-it-all wideout Cam Phillips (964 receiving yards, seven touchdowns in 2017). Hazelton should help, as he had 51 receptions for 505 receiving yards and a team-high four touchdowns as a freshman at Ball State in 2016.

Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor: Hurd is fascinating as he not only joins a new program in a new league, but does so at a new position, where Baylor coaches expect him to shine. The 6-foot-4, 229-pounder started 29 games at running back for Tennessee, where he ranks second in team history in carries (589) and sixth in rushing yards (2,638). He wanted to expand his game as a receiver and should give Baylor a dynamic option in the passing game.

Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan: Of the former Ole Miss players granted immediate eligibility, Patterson should be the most significant, both because of his abilities and the position he plays. Michigan’s struggles at quarterback the past two seasons are well documented. Patterson, who passed for 3,139 yards and 23 touchdowns in just 10 games with Ole Miss, could provide the spark the Wolverines need.

Chris Robison, QB, Florida Atlantic: The former Oklahoma quarterback first must avoid problems — he was briefly suspended in March and was dismissed at OU for a team rules violation. Then, he must beat out former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson for the Owls’ starting job. But ESPN’s No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class is still a name worth noting.

T.J. Simmons, WR, West Virginia: Unlike others on this list, Simmons lacks game production at his previous school, Alabama, where he played mostly special teams in 2016. But Simmons has been very impressive so far at WVU and will be part of a talent-stocked receiving corps that includes David Sills V and Gary Jennings.

GRADUATE TRANSFERS

Terrence Alexander, CB, LSU: It seemed a little odd that LSU needed more bodies in the secondary, but the Tigers add an intriguing player in Alexander, who returns to his home state from Stanford. Alexander played in 40 games for the Cardinal, recording 30 tackles and four pass breakups in 2015, but missed all but one game with injury last fall.

Calvin Anderson, OT, Texas: Anderson had several attractive options after deciding to leave Rice and picked Texas, which needs to replace standout left tackle Connor Williams. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Anderson twice earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors with the Owls.

Kenny Bigelow, DT, West Virginia: If Bigelow can stay healthy — knee problems derailed his USC career — he should help a new-look West Virginia defensive front. It’s a long time ago, but Bigelow rated as ESPN’s No. 3 defensive tackle and No. 21 overall player in the 2013 recruiting class. He had three sacks in 2015, the only season he suited up for the Trojans.

Dru Brown, QB, Oklahoma State: The search for Mason Rudolph’s successor will continue in preseason camp, as Brown, who passed for 2,785 yards and 18 touchdowns last year at Hawaii, enters the mix. Former walk-on Taylor Cornelius emerged from the spring as the front-runner, although Keondre Wudtee and decorated incoming freshman Spencer Sanders also will compete.

Keller Chryst, QB, Tennessee: Chryst started 13 games for Stanford and went 6-0 as the Cardinal’s signal-caller in 2016 before losing his job to K.J. Costello midway through last season. He’s expected to push front-runner Jarrett Guarantano when he arrives this summer.

Brandon Dawkins, QB, Indiana: Before Khalil Tate blew up at Arizona, Dawkins led the Wildcats’ offense and put up solid numbers (2,418 pass yards and 1,582 rush yards with 35 total touchdowns) in Tucson. He now joins Indiana as the team’s most experienced quarterback option, although he’ll have to beat out sophomore Peyton Ramsey and freshman Michael Penix Jr.

Preston Gordon, DT, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders add to their defensive front with Gordon, who started all of last season and 28 total games at Rice. Gordon had his best season in 2016 with 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss, but contributed 4.5 tackles for loss in 2017.

Nick Harvey, CB, South Carolina: Despite missing all of last season with a knee injury, Harvey became one of the more coveted graduate transfer prospects when he announced his departure from Texas A&M. He started 12 games for the Aggies in 2016, recording 68 tackles, an interception and a team-high 10 pass breakups. Harvey should be a key addition to the Gamecocks secondary.

J.T. Ibe, S, South Carolina: The Gamecocks must replace both starting safeties from last season and get a potential answer in Ibe, who played in 33 games at Rice and had 42 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2017. Ibe started 26 games for the Owls. He should have a big role for South Carolina this fall.

Jawuan Johnson, LB, TCU: Don’t be surprised if Johnson is one of the more important defensive transfers for 2018. He had a breakout season last fall for Northern Illinois, recording five interceptions, five forced fumbles and 18 tackles for loss, as well as 98 total tackles. TCU loses leading tackler Travin Howard, and Johnson, who also drew interest from Alabama, should fit in very well.

Madre London, RB, Tennessee: After playing behind LJ Scott for three years at Michigan State, London arrives in Knoxville aiming for the Vols’ featured back spot. Tennessee loses leading rusher John Kelly and has potential successors in the program, namely Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan. But London brings game experience (885 rushing yards, seven touchdowns) and size at 6-foot-1 and 218 pounds.

Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State: Although Minshew played for bad East Carolina teams, he put up solid numbers, passing for 3,487 yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons. He wisely passed up an opportunity to likely hold a clipboard at Alabama for a chance to lead Washington State’s offense. The Cougars are replacing record-setting quarterback Luke Falk.

Jabril Robinson, DL, West Virginia: Rather than remain a reserve on Clemson’s loaded defensive line, Robinson transferred and lands with West Virginia’s revamped front. He had 19 tackles in 11 games at Clemson last season after appearing in six games in each of his first two seasons with the Tigers.

Wilton Speight, QB, UCLA: A starter at Michigan for most of the 2016 season, Speight is worth including here, but he might not fit the new direction at UCLA under Chip Kelly. His style differs from that of Devon Modster, who started the Bruins’ final two games last fall, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, ESPN’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class. Speight joins the Bruins this summer.

Tre Watson, RB, Texas: The Longhorns’ run game struggled last season and the team lacks a clear-cut featured back. Enter Watson, who appeared in 37 games at Cal and entered 2017 as the starter before tearing his ACL in Week 2. He had 1,390 rushing yards, 657 kick return yards and 379 receiving yards for the Bears and gives Texas an exciting and experienced option in the backfield.

Brady White, QB, Memphis: White first must secure the starting job, which he couldn’t do this spring after transferring in January. But the former Arizona State signal-caller knows Tigers coach Mike Norvell from their time in Tempe. He’s also a unique case with three years of eligibility left as Memphis tries to keep its powerful offense rolling without QB Riley Ferguson and WR Anthony Miller.

TO BE DETERMINED …

Joe Burrow, QB: Despite limited game experience at Ohio State — he passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns as a reserve — Burrow earned good marks from the Ohio State coaches and has a good chance to start elsewhere. He visited LSU and Cincinnati last week and remains on the radar for other programs. LSU lacks clarity at quarterback and Burrow could be the answer on the Bayou.

C.J. Fuller, RB: Fuller opened last season as Clemson’s starter but fell down the depth chart as Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster emerged. His situation became complicated after he and two former college players were arrested in March for armed robbery of a former Clemson teammate. Fuller had 599 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 147 carries at Clemson.

Trevon Grimes, WR, Florida: Grimes left Ohio State midway through last season because of family reasons, and the Fort Lauderdale native joined the Gators. He’s seeking immediate eligibility for the 2018 season. ESPN rated Grimes as the No. 5 wide receiver and No. 35 overall player in the 2017 recruiting class.

C.J. Sanders, WR: Sanders is planning to transfer from Notre Dame after graduating this month. Although he had only 26 receptions at Notre Dame, he showed electric return ability, putting up big performances in 2015 and 2016. Vanderbilt is a possible destination.

Van Jefferson, WR, Florida: The eligibility waivers granted to Jefferson’s former Ole Miss teammates seemingly bode well for him, too. “I feel good about Van being declared eligible,” attorney Thomas Mars, who has worked with many of the Ole Miss players seeking immediate eligibility, told ESPN.com’s Dan Murphy last week. Jefferson would provide a big boost for Florida after recording 91 receptions for 999 yards and four touchdowns during two seasons at Ole Miss.



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