In the four days since the spring transfer window opened on Saturday morning, we’ve seen 230 FBS scholarship players enter the NCAA transfer portal. As expected, not many big names have hit the market so far.
In fact, about two-thirds of the players available this week have never started a game in college. This phase of transfer recruiting is more about mining for unexpected gems than fighting over players everybody covets.
“There hasn’t been a ton of top-tier talent so far this go-round; only a handful of guys right now,” one Power 5 director of player personnel said. “I would imagine we’ll get a few more guys trickling in over the next couple days. More spring games this weekend, so another rush on Monday.”
Naturally, though, that small handful of talented transfers commands a lot of attention and offers. Here’s what we’re hearing on some of the best available players and the trends of this spring transfer window.
Top 25 best available players in CFB’s spring transfer portal window
1. As soon as Georgia defensive tackle Bear Alexander entered the portal on Saturday, the rumors were flying that USC already had him locked up. One reason for that: His dad was in Los Angeles on that same day attending the Trojans’ spring game and posting photos he took with quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Malachi Nelson. At the very least, USC is out in front and in great shape here, though we’ll see if Miami or others can make things interesting.
This is a different situation than the one Georgia’s coaching staff faced last April when five-star freshman offensive tackle Amarius Mims put his name in the portal and nearly departed for Florida State. In that case, Georgia fought to get Mims to stay. Alexander is certainly one of the Bulldogs’ most talented defensive linemen and flashed that potential last season, but it appears Georgia is moving on. Kirby Smart and his players, when asked last Saturday after their spring game about Alexander, did not lobby for him to return. “I’m very pleased with what we’ve got on our team and our roster,” Smart said.
USC has already invested in upgrading its defensive line this offseason with the additions of Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M), Jack Sullivan (Purdue) and Kyon Barrs (Arizona), but Alexander would be a massive get.
2. TCU wide receiver Jordan Hudson instantly became one of the best players on the transfer market on Tuesday. The Horned Frogs’ staff was really excited about the top-100 recruit and his playmaking potential going into his freshman year, and it looked like 2023 was going to be a big year for him with Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis and Taye Barber going pro. But this did not end up being a good fit, and Hudson’s departure did not come as a surprise.
As soon as Hudson entered the portal, there was a lot of buzz around SMU. There’s an easy sell that he can help the Mustangs replace NFL-bound wideout Rashee Rice, who ranked No. 2 in the FBS in targets (156) and caught 96 passes for 1,355 yards and 10 touchdowns. There’s also a key connection here with co-OC/receivers coach Rob Likens that gives the Mustangs an edge. Hudson was committed to Oklahoma at one point in his high school recruitment, and it’s possible other schools will make a strong push.
3. Wyoming offensive lineman Emmanuel Pregnon continues to be the most popular player in the portal. Recruiting staffers across the country are buzzing about the No. 3 player in our best available rankings.
“This kid has to be the best player in the portal,” another Power 5 DPP said Saturday after watching his film. “He is absolutely awesome.”
Pregnon has picked up at least 20 offers since then. It’s always fascinating when this happens for players who were no-star recruits in high school. Pregnon struggled to get coaches to buy in when he was at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver and wasn’t offered by Wyoming until December 2019, less than two weeks before signing day. His other offers at the time included Northern Colorado, CSU-Pueblo and Chadron State. He was listed at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds when he signed but has said he was closer to 225 pounds when he first visited Wyoming. But he had massive hands and feet, plenty of room to grow and serious athleticism as a basketball player.
Pregnon spent two years developing in Craig Bohl’s program, got on the field last fall and proved to be one of the best interior linemen in the Mountain West. The O-line coach who signed him, Bart Miller, is now with Bret Bielema at Illinois and was one of the first to offer over the weekend. But considering some of the schools that are now involved in this recruitment, it’s clear Pregnon has a chance to make some very good money at his next stop.
4. Several more Group of 5 offensive linemen hit the portal along with Pregnon this week and immediately picked up offers. We already wrote about App State center/guard Troy Everett, who keeps picking up Power 5 offers and plans to visit Oklahoma for its spring game this weekend. Tulsa transfer Jaden Muskrat was offered by Auburn right away and has continued to be popular with recent offers from Arkansas, South Carolina, Cincinnati and Purdue. Houston’s Cam’Ron Johnson, a first-team All-AAC selection last year, was already in the portal and is reportedly down to USC or Missouri. The Cougars are in the mix for FIU transfer Lyndell Hudson Jr. and Louisiana Monroe transfer Peyton Dunn.
The takeaway here: If you have size, strength and playing experience, you’re probably going to pick up offers in the portal.
5. The pool of available players isn’t deep right now, but expect to see Texas A&M continue to be buyers. As our Sam Khan Jr. has reported, the Aggies were at 75 scholarship players exiting the spring — and that was before they lost center Matthew Wykoff and defensive back Bobby Taylor, who announced he’s transferring on Tuesday. That departure will put the Aggies at 27 scholarship players lost to the portal since late November, so there’s a lot of room to add depth.
Jimbo Fisher and his staff landed a good get on Tuesday in Boston College transfer defensive back Josh DeBerry, who was No. 4 in our best available ranks and was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2021. The Aggies have also picked up Rice transfer fullback Jerry Johnson III, have hosted receiver Gary Bryant Jr. (USC) and linebacker Jurriente Davis (Jackson State) and have offered Pregnon and cornerback Antonio Carter II (Rhode Island).
College football’s spring transfer portal window, explained
6. The post-spring quarterback market still has not materialized. Thirteen scholarship QBs have entered the portal during the spring window, but they have little starting experience to offer. Even the schools looking for a solid QB2 aren’t loving their options right now.
Georgia’s Brock Vandagriff has a difficult decision to make now that the Bulldogs are done with spring ball and with Carson Beck clearly out in front in that race. If No. 1 ranked QB recruit Dylan Raiola is about to commit, too, then that’s probably worth factoring in. The problem here is Vandagriff would have to sit out this season if he wants to join another SEC team. Is there an opportunity to start at a non-SEC school that’s worth pursuing? Or does it make more sense to stick around and see how things play out this fall?
Auburn’s T.J. Finley has made it clear he’s thinking about leaving and could do so as a grad transfer (he has already transferred once), but beyond that, there aren’t many leads right now on which experienced QBs could opt to transfer in the next 10 days.
(Photo of Jordan Hudson: Raymond Carlin III / USA Today)
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