Today we’re launching a weekly series examining transfer activity across the Power Five, starting with the SEC. Here’s our ranking of the 10 biggest transfer gate additions to the conference in the 2022 offseason.
10. S Isheem Young, Ole Miss
Coach Ole Miss Lane Kiffin dubbed himself the “Portal King” in January, and at least on paper, the results back up the moniker. Kiffin added 17 transfers to the Rebels’ list, including a few high-profile signings on the attacking side of the ball, some of whom will be touched on later in this list.
But one under-the-radar addition who should be able to help improve a porous Ole Miss defense was Young. The former Iowa State safety played 12 games as a true rookie in 2020, starting nine, then he started all 12 games a year ago.
Young earned Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year honors in 2020, when he racked up 54 tackles. He beat that number with 55 as a sophomore. The hard-hitting Young also had three interceptions over the past two seasons.
9. WR Jermaine Burton, Alabama
Nick Saban found a gem in the transfer portal last year when he lured Ohio State backup Jamison Williams to Tuscaloosa and then turned him into a top-10 draft pick of the NFL. Burton is more established than Williams was a season ago, having led Georgia wides with 26 catches for 497 yards last season. But he will look to increase his draft stock in a happier offense in 2022.
Although not as fast as Williams, Burton has proven to be a game changer, averaging 19.1 yards per catch last year.
8. WR Antwane Wells, South Carolina
Another coach who cleaned up the transfer gate in the offseason was South Carolina. Shane Beamer. While Wells isn’t one of Beamer’s hottest additions this offseason, he should have a big impact on the Gamecocks’ offense this season. Wells comes to South Carolina from James Madison, where he rewrote the record books last year.
As a redshirt rookie in 2021, Wells set school records for receptions (83), yards (1,250) and touchdowns (15) in a single season. Despite only playing 20 games in his college career, Wells ranks ninth on James Madison’s all-time list in career receptions and yards and third in touchdowns.
Wells will likely face a learning curve in his transition from the FCS ball to the SEC, but he clearly knows how to produce.
7. RB Zach Evans, Ole Miss
Often, optimism about a transfer is based more on potential than proven results – the hope that a change of scenery will allow a player to reach their full potential. We’ve tried to make this list more results-oriented. However, Evans is too talented not to warrant his inclusion.
The former five-star running back ended up at TCU after a roller coaster recruiting. He never emerged as the Horned Frogs’ undisputed backfield leader, but he averaged a ridiculous 7.3 yards per carry over two seasons, rushing for 1,063 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games.
Evans will likely split the runs again at Oxford, as Ole Miss has also brought in former SMU running back Ulysses Bentley IV from the portal, and at this point it’s fair to wonder if Evans can stay in the good graces of the coaching staff.
But if Evans can finally turn his talent into consistent production, he could be one of the best guards in the SEC.
6. QB Max Johnson, Texas A&M
The position that has been impacted the most by the transfer portal nationwide is that of quarterback. Each offseason, callers shuffle schools in droves, looking for a place to start. Our first quarterback on this list would be higher, except it’s not yet guaranteed that he’ll actually earn the starting job at his new home.
Johnson comes to Texas A&M after two seasons at LSU, where he started 14 games. Johnson has been solid for the Tigers, completing 60.3% of his passes for 2,815 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions a season ago. If he can indeed beat Haynes King, who played a game a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury, and four-star rookie Connor Weigman, then elevate Texas A&M’s talented offense, Johnson could finish by look like the transfer addition of the year.
5. WR Tayvion Robinson, Kentucky
Kentucky had great results with a wide receiver named Robinson last season. Everything Wan’Dale Robinson did in his lone season as a Wildcat set school records for receptions and receiving yards in a season and turned into a second-round pick in the draft of the NFL. To lay similar expectations on the newest Robinson in the Kentucky reception hall would be unfair.
But Tayvion Robinson comes to Lexington with proven production experience at Virginia Tech. Robinson played in 35 games over three seasons as a Hokie, starting 30 of them. He caught 113 passes for 1,555 yards and nine touchdowns during that span. Last season he had 44 receptions for 559 yards and five scores. He should also provide a spark in the return game, as he averaged 12.6 yards per punt return last season, seventh-best in the nation.
4. RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
Gibbs was one of the more unique offensive weapons available in the transfer portal this cycle. He should not only help replace Alabama starting tailback Brian Robinson Jr., but also factor into the receiving game.
Over two seasons at Georgia Tech, Gibbs averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns as a rusher. He also caught 59 passes for 768 yards and five other scores. The Crimson Tide will surely be able to find a way to use Gibbs in their ultra-talented offense to create favorable matches.
3. QB Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
Prediction: Of all these rankings, Rattler’s placement will generate the most angst. The former Oklahoma quarterback has admittedly been much more hyped than substantial so far in his college career. Rattler lost his starting job to freshman Caleb Williams a season ago, and it’s fair to wonder if a player who sometimes struggled to make decisions can be better off after he leaves. . lincoln rileyquarterback-friendly system.
But that said, we’re still talking about a guy who completed 70.2% of his passes and threw for 39 touchdowns over the past two seasons. The talent is there; there’s a reason Rattler was at one point considered a Heisman Trophy contender and a potential No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
Additionally, regardless of his performance next season, he helped Beamer overhaul the Gamecock offense and attract other playmakers to South Carolina. Rattler certainly won’t become that Heisman contender or that first-round pick this season. But he has given South Carolina fans reason for optimism and should be talented enough to elevate an offense that finished 95th nationally in passing and 104th in goalscoring a year ago.
2. QB Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss
Dart is another quarterback who feels like a risk to rank this high because his reputation is based more on hype than college-level production. But if he can live up to the billing, Dart could rack up huge numbers in Kiffin’s attack. Dart appeared in six games as a true freshman for USC last season. He showed his talent, like when he completed 30 of 46 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Washington State on his debut, but also struggled at times. During the year, he completed 61.9% of his passes for nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
But given that Dart was a proper freshman who was pushed into action during conference play due to Kedon Slovis’ injury, it’s fair to expect Dart to continue to progress. And it’s hard to imagine him landing in a better place. Although Ole Miss hasn’t officially announced him as the starting quarterback, it would be surprising if he lost the battle to Luke Altmyer.
And Kiffin has proven he can put quarterbacks in position to succeed. Matt Corral threw for over 3,000 yards and recorded over 30 total touchdowns in each of Kiffin’s two seasons at Oxford.
1. CB Eli Ricks, Alabama
Topping our list is Ricks, who seemed like the next man in a long line of LSU defensive backs drafted in the first round before being traded to another SEC West powerhouse in December. A five-star prospect in the Class of 2020, Ricks immediately backed up the hype when he topped Derek Stingley Jr. on the same defense. Ricks had four passes and returned two for touchdowns as a true freshman.
And although his 2021 season was cut short by injury, Ricks was arguably the most sought-after non-quarterback in the country when he put his name on the transfer portal after last season. Ricks looks like a lock to start at cornerback for Alabama this season. His only question mark is durability as he has only played 14 games in the last two years.