By introducing the new “Transfer Portal,” the NCAA has recently given athletes the opportunity to take their talents elsewhere. Players and coaches have already begun taking advantage of the new program, with a new player seemingly entering the portal every week. Here, we take a look at a few of the transfers that should be on your devy radar.
WR TARIK BLACK
MICHIGAN WOLVERINES TO TEXAS LONGHORNS
As a highly-recruited, 4-star prospect in 2017, Tarik Black (6’3″, 215 pounds) headed to Michigan with hopes of developing into one of college football’s premier wideouts.
Instead, Black has spent his last three seasons dealing with injuries and terrible play from the quarterback position. He failed to catch more than 25 passes or 323 yards in any season. He did manage to show flashes of the talent devy owners were enamored with back in 2017, but Black has failed to live up to expectations.
Black’s transfer to Texas could be just what the doctor ordered to bring his flatlining devy value back to life. The departures of Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay open up 52% of the receiving yards in the Longhorns’ pass happy offense and only one returning wide receiver caught more than 25 balls in 2019.
Black has the opportunity to start on the outside from day one, and he should match up well with QB Sam Ehlinger‘s willingness to throw it up for grabs. In a so-called “defenseless” Big 12, he has one last shot to raise his NFL draft stock and return some value to devy rosters.
RB JEROME FORD
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE TO CINCINNATI BEARCATS
Former Alabama running back Jerome Ford (5’11”, 206 pounds) began 2019 on a high note, starting the Crimson Tide’s first game of the season and leading all running backs with 10 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, Ford failed to see any more meaningful play time in Tuscaloosa. Finding in-game action has proven to be difficult for the former 3-star prospect, especially in a backfield featuring Najee Harris, Damien Harris and Brian Robinson, Jr.
With reported 4.4 speed and a high-school resume as a versatile pass-catcher, some assumed Ford could be the latest back to play in the Josh Jacobs or Kenyan Drake role at Bama. Instead, Ford will take his talents to Cincinnati, where he could be an immediate contributor.
Former Bearcat running back Michael Warren II leaves behind 1,400+ scrimmage yards and 280+ touches in the Bearcats’ offense. Current Bearcats running back Gerrid Doaks (6’0″, 230 pounds) will most likely lead the backfield in 2020, but Ford’s complimentary play style should help him see the field early, and he could be Cincinnati’s starting running back in 2021.
QB K.J. COSTELLO
STANFORD CARDINALS TO MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
If we go back to 2018, you might be surprised to hear that K.J. Costello (6’5″, 215 pounds) was being viewed as a top 15 quarterback in college football with legitimate NFL aspirations. It’s easy to forget considering a 2019 season that saw Costello appear in only five games during an up-and-down campaign clouded by injury, resulting in the senior looking for a new home.
Landing in Mississippi State with new head coach Mike Leach might just be what Costello needs to bounce back. He will enter a QB room with competent suitors, but none with his experience and production.
Mike Leach got to witness K.J first-hand back in 2018, when Costello threw 323 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions on Leach’s Washington State Cougars. Leach saw enough back then to feel comfortable with pursuing Costello to lead his pass-happy offense.
Leach and Costello will be a welcome sight for Mississippi, after failing to see a WR reach 500 yards last year. It also projects well for running back Kylin Hill, who should benefit from consistent QB play and Leach’s history of RB usage in the passing game. Mississippi State is a team that should look drastically different in 2020
WR JUSTIN SHORTER
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS TO FLORIDA GATORS
To say Justin Shorter‘s time in college has been underwhelming might be an understatement. The former 5-star recruit and #1 wide receiver in the 2018 class has barely managed to make an impact on the field.
At 6’4″ and 225 pounds (with reported 4.5 speed), Shorter’s lack of development through two seasons at Penn State has been one of the bigger head scratchers in college football. After a freshman season lost to injury, he saw upwards of 280 snaps for the Nittany Lions in 2019, but was only targeted 19 times, hauling in 12 of them for 137 scoreless yards.
For whatever reason, Shorter hasn’t been able to reach what many believe is his full potential, but a new beginning in Florida could be just what he needs.
Florida has had some success with bigger receivers, with recent players like Tyrie Cleveland, Trevon Grimes and Kyle Pitts. The departures of Cleveland and Van Jefferson open up almost 1,000 yards and 75 receptions. The biggest concerns at Florida will be volume after QB Kyle Trask failed to throw for more than 3,000 yards in 2019 and the Gators failed to have any receiver break 700 yards.
Shorter is facing an uphill battle to relevance, and this could be his last shot to breathe life into his NFL draft stock, a welcome possibility for those who spent significant devy capital on him.
RB TREY SERMON
OKLAHOMA SOONERS TO OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
As one of the more high-profile transfers of the offseason, former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon (6’0″, 215 pounds) has landed at Ohio State following one of the quicker stints in the transfer portal.
Sermon’s time at OU has been littered with upside and disappointment, from displaying a unique skill set while being named the Big 12’s Offensive Freshman of the Year, to dealing with injuries and losing touches to fellow OU running back Kennedy Brooks.
Still, Sermon managed to put together quite a career resume at OU. In 37 games over three seasons, he rushed for over 2,000 yards at 6.1 yards per carry, caught 36 passes for almost 400 yards and has scored 25 career touchdowns. His potential hasn’t been hard to see.
While the split backfield at OU probably played a major factor in his decision to transfer, the opportunity presented by Ohio State was almost too good to be true. A team with legitimate playoff aspirations, a potential heisman quarterback, and a reputation of producing quality NFL running backs is hard to pass up.
The biggest concern would have been playing time, but after the departure of J.K. Dobbins to the NFL, and rumors of a serious injury to rising sophomore running back Master Teague, the Buckeyes don’t have a running back on their roster who totaled more than 25 carries last year.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Sermon, who now has a legitimate opportunity to lead the OSU running back room, for a position that saw over 2,000 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns in 2019. Sermon has a sneaky opportunity to vault himself up 2021 draft boards.
You can also read about QB Jamie Newman’s transfer to Georgia here, whose impact deserved its own article.
Cory Pereira/ @FF_Guitarist
Co-Host of @DevyDispensary Podcast, now available on most podcast platforms