Which college football transfers will make an impact in 2021?

The number of college players entering the transfer gate has increased significantly this season.

More than ever, coaches have used this portal as part of their recruiting strategy to fill gaps on the team, in part because the NCAA allowed any student-athlete enrolled in the program an additional year of eligibility during the COWID-19 pandemic.

The lethal recruitment period introduced in March 2020 has also resulted in high school recruits having fewer opportunities to be evaluated. College football programs in turn look to transfers to find more experienced players ready to play.

In addition, the Division I Board of Directors recently approved a one-time exception to the transfer rule, allowing players to transfer and be immediately eligible for a transfer. In the past, transfers either had to take a year or apply for immediate exemption. This initial transfer waiver is no longer needed, making these players even more valuable.

Here are some of the biggest transfers of the moment at each position, as well as some of the high-profile players still on the portal.


Mackenzie Milton
UCF in Florida.

The Seminoles need help at quarterback and Milton has been released to play after a terrible injury at UCF. In 2017, Milton accounted for 4,037 yards, 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions while leading UCF to an undefeated season. If he can play at 100%, he could be a great asset to the offense.

Jack Coan
Wisconsin at Notre Dame.

Coan replaces Ian Book, who has thrown for 2,830 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions this season, while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes and leading the Irish to the College Football Playoff. Coan won’t have the same team record, but if he can improve on his numbers – 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 69.6 percent completion percentage in 2019 – he could be a good transition quarterback for Notre Dame.

If Jack Coan can improve on his 2,727 passing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019, he could be a good transition quarterback for Notre Dame in 2021. Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports

Ja’Quinden Jackson
from Texas to Utah.

Jackson was 34. One of the best prospects in the Texas class. He didn’t play last season, but he has great potential and could be an outside shot for Utah, which finished seventh in the Pac-12 in doubles as a team.

Tyler Shaw
Oregon vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech loses to Alan Bowman, but now Shaw, a former ESPN 300 recruit from the 2018 class, wins. Shaw started at Oregon last season and completed 63.5 percent of his passes. In seven games, he has thrown for 1,559 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Ryan Hilinski
South Carolina Northwest

Peyton Ramsey is gone and Northwestern is looking for a new quarterback. The staff accepted Hunter Johnson from Clemson as a transfer in 2018, but he was not retained. Hilinski completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 2,357 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in his first season at South Carolina. He was eventually replaced by Luke Doty, who started most of 2020 for the Gamecocks. It’s a fresh start for Hilinski and a chance to get a new starting spot.

Tanner Mordecai
Oklahoma to SMU

SMU loses Shane Buechele due to graduation, so the new quarterback will have to take over. Preston Stone is a former ESPN 300 quarterback who is already on the roster, but Mordecai has some experience at Oklahoma. He will have competition from Stone and Derek Green, but he could be a perfect fit for what Sonny Dykes wants in the offense.

Notable QBs on the portal: N’Kosi Perry (Miami), Chris Robison (FAU), Grant Tisdale (Ole Miss).

Running Back

Zach Charbonnet
Michigan vs. UCLA

The fact that the Wolverines hired Indiana’s Mike Hart as running backs coach made Charbonnet’s decision to transfer even more surprising. He had a stellar first season with 11 touchdowns and 726 yards on the ground, but had just 19 carries in the 2020 season.

Eric Gray
Tennessee, Oklahoma.

Gray is one of the transfers to Tennessee since Jeremy Pruitt was fired, and he has played just two seasons so far. Last season, he accounted for 772 yards on 157 carries and averaged 8.5 yards per carry. He joins an explosive offense and has three more seasons to go if he wants to use them all.



Eric Gray breaks through the Missouri State defense and gets into the end zone at the expense of Tennessee State.

Demarcus Bowman
from Clemson to Florida.

Bowman, the No. 23 and No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 class, signed with Clemson but carried just nine times for 32 yards last season. He hails from Lakeland, Florida, and now has four seasons to help Florida’s offense.

Ty Chandler
from Tennessee to North Carolina

Chandler split time with Gray and had 456 yards and four touchdowns on 100 carries. In the previous two seasons, he accounted for over 600 yards and seven touchdowns.

Notable RBs on the portal: Deondrick Glass, Oklahoma.

Wide Receiver

Charleston Rambo
Oklahoma at Miami.

Rambo was ranked 207th in the 2017 class and had 743 receiving yards with five touchdowns in 2019. In 2020, he averaged 12.5 yards per reception and 312 yards on 25 receptions. The game against quarterback D Eric King will be important for Miami next season.

Van’Dale Robinson
from Nebraska to Kentucky

Robinson had committed to Kentucky in high school before dropping out and signing with Nebraska. After two seasons, he has accumulated 914 yards and three touchdowns, and 580 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Kentucky brings in an outstanding point guard with Robinson for three years.

Mookie Cooper
Ohio State in Missouri.

Cooper, from Missouri, was the No. 113 recruit in the 2020 class when he signed with the Buckeyes. He was one of four receivers in the ESPN 300 class and did not record any stats in 2020.

Tight End



QB Myles Brennan finds Aric Gilbert for his third touchdown of the half and celebrates by showing the ice in his veins.

Oklahoma Grant for GMU

Calcaterra had initially left football after suffering a concussion, but decided to return and wanted to transfer to Auburn. With the resignation of head coach Gus Malzahn, Calcaterra transferred to SMU and now the Mustangs are bringing in a tight end who collected 396 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Sooners during the 2018 season. If Calcaterra can stay healthy, he could be a good asset for SMU.

Notable TEs on the portal: Aric Gilbert (LSU and Florida)

Editor’s comment: Gilbert decided for Florida on Jan. 31, but announced it on Jan. 28. February would enter the transfer portal.

Offensive line

Wanya Morris
from Tennessee to Oklahoma

Morris started seven games for Tennessee last season as a left back and played in 22 games the past two seasons. He is only available as a sophomore and was a 5-star in the 2019 class, ranked 9th.

T.J. Sturment
TCU at Texas Tech

Storment spent just one season at TCU after transferring from Colorado State. He finished the season as the starting left tackle and was named second team All-Big 12.

Eric Wilson
Harvard, Penn State.

Wilson was the second inside lineman in the entire Ivy League in 2019. The Harvard graduate originally chose Auburn, but transferred to Penn State after Malzahn was fired. He should be able to help immediately.

2 Connected

Obinna Eze
Memphis to TCU

Eze was a starter at left tackle the past two seasons at Memphis and was the ESPN 300 Rookie of the Year in the 2017 class.

Doug Nester
Virginia Tech in West Virginia

Nester has played in 16 games for the Hokies in two seasons. He received national attention as a freshman and should be a starter at West Virginia.

Notable LOs on the portal: C.J. Thorpe (Penn State).

Defence line

DT Jowon Briggs
Virginia to Cincinnati

Briggs had three sacks, four tackles for loss and 20 tackles in seven games for Virginia. Briggs is only a sophomore, so he has three more years to go.

Arnold Abiqueti Temple
at Penn State.

This is a setback for Penn State, as Ebiketi had 42 tackles, four sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles for Temple last season. He was elected to the All-AAC second team and has two more years of eligibility.

DT DaQuan Newkirk
Auburn to Florida

Florida was in dire need of a defensive line and is filling it with transfers Newkirk and Antonio Shelton from Penn State. Newkirk is a graduate transfer and will be eligible for an immediate transfer to Florida. He is coming off a season in which he tallied 28 total tackles and 1.5 sacks for Auburn.

DT Keir Thomas
South Carolina to Florida.

Thomas accounted for 32 tackles and three sacks last season and will be versatile on Florida State’s defensive line. He is immediately eligible to play and has only one season left.

From Big Cat Bryant
Auburn to UCF

Bryant played for new UFC coach Gus Malzahn at Auburn and now follows Malzahn to the UFC. He originally planned to go to Tennessee, but switched to UCF once he heard Malzahn was the new coach. Bryant was a two-year starter with 11.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He is a former ESPN 300 recruit and a great asset to the Golden Knights.

Remarkable DL on the portal: James Sylvester. (Baylor)


Mike Jones Jr.
Clemson of LSU.

Clemson’s starting linebacker James Skalski announced he would return in 2021, and Jones signed on the transfer portal shortly thereafter. Jones, an ESPN 300 recruit in the 2018 class, will transfer to LSU after a season in which he had 25 tackles and a forced fumble.

Mike Jones Jr. totaled 18 tackles and a forced fumble in 2019 and 25 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in 2020. John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Treshawn Hayward
from West Michigan to Arizona

Hayward is still eligible and will help new defensive coordinator Don Brown at Arizona. Hayward was the MAC’s best defensive player in 2019 with 142 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

Lance Dixon
Penn State vs. West Virginia

Dixon is a former four-star 2019 recruit from Michigan. He had nine tackles and forced a fumble in his second season on campus. He will immediately be a real option at linebacker for West Virginia and has a chance to break through right away. Notable LBs on the portal: Henry To’o’o (Tennessee), J.J. Peterson (Tennessee), Quavaris Crouch (Tennessee), Pale Gaote IV (USC), Ayodele Adeyeye (Texas), Ben Davis (Alabama).

Notable LBs on the portal: Henry To’o’o (Tennessee), J.J. Peterson (Tennessee), Quavaris Crouch (Tennessee), Pale Gaote IV (USC), Ayodele Adeyeye (Texas).

Defensive back

DB Tykey Smith
from West Virginia to Georgia

Second-round pick Kirby Smart took a big hit, losing three cornerbacks to the NFL Draft, as well as two other safeties. That’s where Smith, a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2020, comes in. Smith had 61 tackles, eight of them for a loss, and two interceptions in 10 games last season.

CB Tyreek Stevenson
Georgia near Miami

Stevenson was Georgia’s fifth tackler (34) last season, with one tackle for loss and five pass interceptions in 10 games. Miami gets some key defenders from last season back, but the addition of Stevenson gives them more options and a proven player in the secondary.

By Jaden Lars-Woodby
Florida State against Boston College

Lars-Woodby was a seventh-round pick in the 2018 class and made an impact in his first season with 59 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and was named a Freshman All-American. Injured in 2019, he moved to linebacker in 2020 and currently lands at Boston College High School.

With Jamie Robinson
South Carolina Florida State

Robinson was added to the South Carolina SEC coaching staff after 62 tackles and an interception. He also completed 74 passes and an interception as a sophomore and is now on his way to Florida to help the Seminoles in his sophomore year.

S Key Lawrence
Tennessee to Oklahoma

Lawrence was ranked No. 102 in 2020 when he signed with Tennessee. He played in 10 games in his first season in 2020, notching eight tackles and a pass interception. He was at the bottom of the Vols ladder, but he has great potential and plenty of time to develop.

Dreshun Miller
West Virginia – Auburn

Miller is a great asset to Auburn’s second coach and new coach Brian Harsin. In 2020, Miller had one interception, 31 tackles and eight interceptions for the Mountaineers. He should be able to provide immediate assistance, but he won’t be counted on as the Tigers have also recovered some key pieces.

Notable DBs on the portal: CB Maurice Hampton (LSU)

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