College Football Transfer Portal Trivia: Which teams improved the most in the first window? (2023)

Once the regular season ended and the transfer window officially opened on December 5, there was a whirlwind of player movements in college football.

Over 2,000 players have put their names on the portal since then until the first closed window on January 18th with hundreds of players committing to new schools.

Players still on the portal can still commit to schools in the coming months, but it won't open for new entries until May. This has led to a slightly quieter period in the sport, especially when the final draft signing period ends.

Now that we've had some time to digest what happened in that first transfer window, here are some general takeaways as we turn the page on the 2023 season.

Who brought the best transfer classes?

While most of the nation's top teams rely on high school drafts for most of their depth charts, the transfer gate quickly proved to be an integral part of team building. This is especially true for talented teams looking to fill some gaps in their roster.

In this cycle, there were a handful of programs in particular that were loaded in large chunks.

Florida State:Coach Mike Norvell had an extremely impressive hit rate with transfers during his time at FSU. Last year he struck gold with the likes of Jared Verse and Johnny Wilson. This year, FSU has added players like cornerback Fentrell Cypress II (Virginia), forward Braden Fiske (Western Michigan), forward Jeremiah Byers (UTEP) and tight end Jaheim Bell (South Carolina).

After a series of years of inactivity, FSU won 10 games in 2022 and a significant portion of the best players on the team decided to return in 2023, including quarterback Jordan Travis. Hopes were high for a resurgence in Tallahassee, and now there will be legitimate expectations that the Seminoles will compete at a high level in 2023. These transfer additions only reinforce FSU's status as a rising program.

College Football Transfer Portal Trivia: Which teams improved the most in the first window? (1)

LSU:When Brian Kellysurprisingly left Notre Dame for LSU, moved quickly to bolster the Tigers' roster with transfers. With quarterback Jayden Daniels leading the charge, these plays paid off as LSU was able to sweep the SEC West.

Heading into Kelly's second season in Baton Rouge, LSU has again added to its roster with impactful transfers. LSU focused primarily on defense, adding four quarterbacks and five defensive linemen. Headliners in the group include former Texas A&M cornerback Denver Harris, former Oregon State linebacker Omar Speights, former Arizona forward Paris Shand and cornerback Zy Alexander, another cornerback who was an FCS All-American in the southeastern Louisiana.

Another notable addition was receiver Aaron Anderson, a Louisiana native who was a five-star recruit in the Class of 2022. Anderson spent his first season at Alabama.

Michigan:Michigan's transfer class may not have as many members as some of these other schools, but the Wolverines were quick to add potential starters as they look to win the Big Ten for a third straight season.

This year's tour includes three offensive linemen: guard LaDarius Henderson (Arizona State), tackle Myles Hinton (Stanford) and center Drake Nugent (Stanford). The Wolverines also signed former Coastal Carolina pass rusher Josaiah Stewart, former Nebraska linebacker Ernest Hausmann and former Indiana tight end AJ Barner.

Hausmann could be a key defensive player for years to come. He started as a freshman at Nebraska and could become one of the best players in the Big Ten. Stewart could also be an impactful performer for UM over several seasons, after compiling 26 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in two years for the Chanticleers.

Oklahoma:Year 1 of the Brent Venables era in Norman did not go well as the Sooners finished 6–7, their first losing season since 1998. It didn't take long to see that Oklahoma needed help on both sides of the ball, so the Sooners the team was aggressive, earning 12 caps in the first transfer window.

Oklahoma invested heavily in its defensive line, adding Indiana's Dasan McCullough, Oklahoma State's Trace Ford, Wake Forest's Rondell Bothroyd, Notre Dame's Jacob Lacey, and Texas State's Davon Sears. McCullough had 49 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks as a rookie.

The Sooners also added former Stanford forward Walter Rouse, former Michigan wide receiver Andrel Anthony and brought back tight end Austin Stogner. Stogner started his career in OU, was traded to South Carolina and is now back with the Sooners.

UCLA:Many of UCLA's top players in 2022 have transferred, and Chip Kelly's team continues to grow the roster through the portal. And many of the players UCLA is adding are transfers from lower-level conferences, including former Kent State QB Collin Schlee and former Ball State RB Carson Steele.

Schlee could be in line to start if five-star rookie Dante Moore isn't ready, while Steele is in line for a heavy load of work on Kelly's offense after rushing for 1,556 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2022. Jordan Anderson, a safety from Bowling Green, is also heading to UCLA from MAC.

The Bruins also added two receivers from the Pac-12 programs, J. Michael Sturdivant (Cal) and Kyle Ford (USC). Both can make headlines immediately from the moment they arrive on campus.

USC:USC completely transformed its team last offseason after signing Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma. Riley's ability to bring 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams with him from Norman played a big role in USC's quick turnaround, but transfer additions like Travis Dye, Jordan Addison, Mario Williams and Eric Gentry were also key. for team success.

As it continues to add high school talent, Riley is also investing heavily in the talent transfer portal. Among the Trojans' 2023 sacks are receiver Dorian Singer (Arizona), running back MarShawn Lloyd (South Carolina) and forwards Ethan White (Florida) and Jarrett Kingston (Washington State).

But it's no secret that USC needs a lot more help on defense than it does on offense. The Trojans added defensive players at all three levels with forwards Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M), Jack Sullivan (Purdue) and Kyon Barrs (Arizona), linebackers Mason Cobb (Oklahoma State) and Jamil Muhammad (Georgia State) and cornerback Christian Roland. Wallace (Arizona) all join the roster.

College Football Transfer Portal Trivia: Which teams improved the most in the first window? (2)

New managers loading in the transfer portal

Riley at USC, Kelly at LSU, and even Sonny Dykes at TCU all demonstrated just how useful the transfer portal can be for a first-year coach. The freedom of movement provided by the portal and the one-time transfer exception have made the long days of rebuilding the roster of new trainers a thing of the past, especially for Power 5 programs.

In this cycle, there have been some first-year managers who have been particularly aggressive on the transfer portal. Here are four worth noting.

State of Arizona:Kenny Dillingham inherited the mess left by Herm Edwards, but has started to run, bringing 25 transfer commitments, as well as a 2023 draft class that has 20 members to date. That's 45 new players added to an 85-man roster in one offseason.

Let's be honest. There aren't many big names in the group. Former Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne is probably the most recognizable. Many of these guys are Arizona natives moving back to their home state, but there are also some offensive linemen with early experience and some high-potential FCS-level transfer players who could make an impact. Running back Cameron Skattebo (Sacramento State) and receiver Xavier Guillory (Idaho State) posted big numbers.

Brunette:Welcome back to the SEC, Hugh Freeze.

Freeze's first order of business at Auburn was to beef up his offensive line, and the three players he added - East Carolina's Avery Jones, West Kentucky's Gunner Britton and Tulsa's Dillon Wade - could end up starting for the Tigers next fall.

Auburn also added four defensive linemen, led by Kentucky's Justin Rogers and Maryland's Mosiah Nasili-Kite. Other additions to the gate by Auburn include former USF running back Brian Battie and former FIU tight end Rivaldo Fairweather. Battie rushed for 1,186 yards in 2022, while Fairweather had 54 career receptions.

Colorado:Deion Sanders wasted no time replenishing the Colorado roster. The Buffs only won one game in 2022, so Coach Prime had some work to do. So far, he has 25 transfers and 19 high school commitments.

A significant group of these transfers followed Sanders to Boulder from Jackson State, including quarterback Shedeur Sanders and cornerback Travis Hunter. Deion's son Sanders is expected to start Buffs next fall, while Hunter is arguably the most talented player on the portal. The #1 recruit in the Class of 2022 shocked the world by signing Sanders at Jackson State, and now he's poised to make an instant impact in the Pac-12, potentially on both sides of the ball.

Other names to be found on the Colorado gateway tour include former Kentucky RB Kavosiey Smoke, former USF wide receiver Jimmy Horn Jr., former Arkansas State TE Seydou Traore, former Arkansas safety Myles Slusher, former Michigan lineman Taylor Upshaw and former Arkansas defensive lineman Jordan Domineck.

College Football Transfer Portal Trivia: Which teams improved the most in the first window? (3)

Wisconsin:Wisconsin's offensive transformation is one of the most intriguing stories of the offseason. With Luke Fickell now head coach, he brought in Phil Longo as offensive coordinator. Wisconsin has long employed a heavy offensive approach, and Longo comes from an air attack background. Since the coaching change, Wisconsin has added nine new players to its offense: three quarterbacks, four receivers and two forwards.

Tanner Mordecai, who started his career at Oklahoma before joining SMU the last two seasons, is in line to run Longo's offense. Nick Evers (Oklahoma) and Braedyn Locke (Mississippi State) were four-star recruits in 2022 and will compete to be the Badgers' quarterback of the future.

Names to know on the receiver are C.J. Williams (USC) and Bryson Green (Oklahoma State) and the two forwards, Jake Renfro and Joe Huber, followed Fickell from Cincinnati to Wisconsin.

Which defenders were transferred?

No position affects wins and losses more than the quarterback, butthis year he didn't have as many top players at the position as he did last year. In 2022, we saw guys like Caleb Williams, Quinn Ewers, Spencer Rattler and Dillon Gabriel move to new schools.

There were rumors that some stars were potential transfers, but these changes never came to fruition. That left quarterbacks like Sam Hartman and Devin Leary as the best of the bunch.

Hartman heads to Notre Dame after passing for nearly 13,000 yards at Wake Forest, while Leary, a multi-year starter at NC State, will replace Will Levis at Kentucky.

To replace Leary, NC State added Virginia's longtime starter Brennan Armstrong. Elsewhere in the ACC, Phil Jurkovec, a Boston College starter for several years, was traded to Pitt. Kedon Slovis started at Pitt last year but left for BYU, which is entering its first Big 12 season.

College Football Transfer Portal Trivia: Which teams improved the most in the first window? (4)

In the Big Ten, notable additions included Hudson Card (Texas to Purdue), Cade McNamara (Michigan to Iowa), Jeff Sims (Georgia Tech to Nebraska) Luke Altmyer (Ole Miss to Illinois) and the aforementioned Tanner Mordecai in Wisconsin through the EMS .

DJ Uiagalelei, a former five-star recruit, left Clemson after two up-and-down seasons as a starter for Oregon State.

In the SEC, Ole Miss added two quarterbacks, Spencer Sanders and Walker Howard. Sanders was a four-year starter at Oklahoma State, while Howard is a former five-star recruit who started his career at LSU. Additionally, Florida added Wisconsin's Graham Mertz and Missouri landed a commitment from Jake Garcia (Miami).

Who were the biggest losers on the portal?

Arkansas:Arkansas added some solid players at the gate, but also lost a large number of caliber starting players. On defense, Jordan Domineck, Jalen Catalon and Myles Slusher were among the starters. On offense, tight end Trey Knox and receiver Ketron Jackson were the biggest losers.

Florida:Florida has had a pretty significant exodus. Depth was an issue for the Gators in Year 1 under Billy Napier, and seeing 20+ players transfer could be costly for Florida in 2023. Roster rotation is a natural part of a coaching transition, but that number of players leaving seems a bit of an isolated part. Bringing in a top 15 recruiting class will help, but having to rely on so many young players could make competition in the SEC East tougher in 2023.

Kent State:It is very common for top players from Group 5 programs to try to move up to Power 5 programs. Kent State has seen seven players do this, many of which occurred after head coach Sean Lewis left the program to become Colorado's offensive coordinator . Of the P5's seven outs, six came from the Lewis attack. Familiar names in that group include quarterback Collin Schlee (UCLA) and receivers Dante Cephas (Penn State) and Devontez Walker (North Carolina).

Oklahoma State:The Cowboys were hit hard by the trades, as the likes of QB Spencer Sanders, RB Dominic Richardson, WR Brennan Presley, Bryson Green and John Paul Richardson left the program. There was also wear on defense. Defensive starters include Trace Ford, Mason Cobb, Jabbar Muhammad and Thomas Harper. OSU has gotten some solid deals on its own, but it's hard to imagine the Cowboys competing for the Big 12 title in 2023.

Carolina do on:The Gamecocks have seen some of their best players leave the program with defensive ends Jordan Burch (Oregon) and Gilber Edmond (Florida State), tight end Jaheim Bell (Florida State) and running back MarShawn Lloyd (USC) all transfers. The show is still trending positively under Shane Beamer's direction, but it never feels good to lose four starters who were all coveted on the portal by the P5 shows.

A&M do Texas:The Aggies were a disaster last fall, going 5-7. And much of the program's historic 2022 draft has already come out of College Station. Nearly 30 players in total have joined the portal since the end of November, many of whom were four- and five-star recruits. Losing so many young players may not have a huge impact in the short term, but it will be important in making the 2023 class more credible to the program.

College Football Transfer Portal Trivia: Which teams improved the most in the first window? (5)

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