10 college football transfers who will have biggest impacts in 2017
The college football season is exciting for a number of reasons. One of those is the impact of transfers and here are the 10 best.
Some college football teams are due for a reboot next season. With that comes adding talent via the transfer market. Sometimes, student-athletes feel they don’t fit in their current football team or some players are following the current trend: the graduate transfer route.
Graduate transfers have become a new trend where players attend another school to continue their academic career in some way while still maintaining a year of eligibility in their respective sport.
The trend has given players an opportunity to excel on bigger stages at the college level. Quarterbacks Trevor Knight (Texas A&M) and Davis Webb (California) are a few notable players who benefited from the graduate transfer rule in 2016.
Knight started in 11 games for the Texas A&M Aggies. He threw for 2,432 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns and ran for 614 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns this past season. They finished with an 8-5 record.
Webb didn’t have quite the same results, record-wise. Webb threw for 4,295 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns in 12 games for the California Golden Bears. However, they finished with a 5-7 record.
Safe to say, there’s an upside and downside to transferring schools. Here’s a look at 10 transfers who could have the biggest impact in 2017.
CB, Last School: Citadel
Cornerback Dee Delaney moves from the FCS level to the FBS level, joining the Miami Hurricanes. Delaney joins a Hurricane secondary after being a two-time FCS All-American with the Citadel Bulldogs.
Delaney was good enough to receive a mid-round draft grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, however, their recommendation for him to transfer up to a FBS level school could produce some interesting results. He should make an instant impact in the Hurricanes’ secondary.
Delaney started 36 games in three seasons before hitting the graduate transfer market. He earned first-team All-American honors after recording 35 tackles, six interceptions, eight pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 12 starts in 2016. The Miami transfer led the Southern Conference in interceptions and ranked third in the FCS.
Delaney accumulated 13 interceptions, second in Citadel school history. He has shown the ability to force turnovers at the FCS level. There’s no telling how it would translate to Miami and the ACC just yet, however, it looks like he’s worth the risk.
Although the team lost to Wofford College in the FCS Playoffs, Delaney had two interceptions for 68 interception return yards.
WR, Last School: Ohio State
Former Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver James Clark looks to find his footing in Blacksburg with a move to the Virginia Tech Hokies. The graduate transfer looks to crack the Hokies receiving corps next season.
It’s no secret the Hokies’ offense will take a hit with the departures of quarterback Jerod Evans, tight end Bucky Hodges and wide receiver Isaiah Ford. Clark is a 5-foot-10, 186-pound wide receiver looking to help change things in 2017.
In 2016, Clark played in all 13 games for the Buckeyes. He caught six passes for 47 yards and was a regular contributor on special teams.
He broke his ankle against the Florida A&M Rattlers during his freshman season in 2015 and never could quite find his way back on the playing field.
Now, Clark finds himself in an interesting position with the Hokies.
He was also something of a track star at Ohio State as well. He was a member of the second-fastest 4×100-meter relay team in school history. Clark was the lead leg of the team that ran a time of 39.01. He’ll look to utilize his speed on the field in the Hokies’ fast-paced offense.
QB, Last School: Texas A&M
Quarterback Kyle Allen resurfaces with the Houston Cougars after beginning his career with the Texas A&M Aggies. He started 14 games in two seasons with the Aggies before deciding to transfer.
Allen’s decision to transfer came on the heels of what Allen dubbed “Johnny Manziel culture”. The “do whatever” attitude of players there had a lot to do with the departure of Allen and possibly freshman quarterback Kyler Murray.
Allen didn’t have a terrible time at A&M either. He threw for 3,532 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions in two seasons with the Aggies.
The team went 8-5 in both of those seasons. Ironically, the team went 8-5 last season with graduate transfer Trevor Knight at quarterback.
Now, Allen looks for a fresh start at Houston with new head coach Charlie Whitehurst. He may have to compete for the starting quarterback job again but it could help that his competition isn’t mainly the SEC.
CB, Last School: Louisville
After a rocky 2016 campaign, cornerback Shaq Wiggins looks to start all over again in his final season of college football with the Tennessee Volunteers. The graduate transfer joins his third program in five years.
He originally began his career in 2013 with the Georgia Bulldogs. He transferred to Louisville the following season, sitting out the 2014 season.
Wiggins battled injuries for much of the 2016 season, making his time limited with the Louisville Cardinals. He appeared in just six games a season ago, racking up just eight tackles.
Wiggins was an honorable mention All-ACC selection with the Cardinals in 2015 after recording 30 tackles, 11 pass breakups and two interceptions in the secondary. He started in all 13 games that season for Louisville.
Wiggins replaces Cam Sutton, another defensive back who battled injury for much of 2016. Wiggins will need to prove his worth and stay healthy in a much more competitive SEC.
QB, Last School: Alabama
Quarterback Blake Barnett felt like he didn’t get a fair shake with the Alabama Crimson Tide this past season. After throwing for 100 passing yards and a touchdown against the USC Trojans in his first start, Barnett received a bit of criticism from head coach Nick Saban. So much so, it triggered Barnett to transfer schools.
Ultimately, he lost his starting job to current quarterback Jalen Hurts, even though the Crimson Tide won against USC 52-6.
Now, Barnett looks to start fresh with the Arizona State Sun Devils. He’ll battle quarterback Manny Wilkins this fall for the starting quarterback job.
Barnett finished 2016 completing 11-of-19 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns before deciding to transfer towards the end of September last season. Look for Barnett to make some noise if he earns the starting job with the Sun Devils.
LB, Last School: Alabama
Inside linebacker Adonis Thomas is another Alabama Crimson Tide defector who found his way back to a top collegiate program. He’ll join the Florida State Seminoles defense this season after a year at Northwest Mississippi Community College.
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Thomas recorded 73 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and an interception last season at NMCC. He was a highly-touted junior college prospect with offers from Penn State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. He ranked 25th overall and second at the inside linebacker position, according to 247Sports.
Thomas joins a thin group of linebackers and should challenge for playing time immediately. The Seminoles only have three inside linebackers listed on the 2017 roster.
After enrolling at Alabama in 2015, he chose to go elsewhere, spending a season at NMCC before landing at Florida State. Now, we’ll see how far along the development process he’s improved. The Seminoles open the season against Alabama in Atlanta on Sept. 2.
CB, Last School: Alabama
The Ohio State Buckeyes may not have to fret too much when it comes to replacing one cornerback. Kendall Sheffield joins the Buckeyes after spending a season at Blinn College.
Sheffield originally signed with Alabama in 2015, taking a redshirt year before deciding to attend Blinn. At Blinn, he racked up 31 tackles, 11 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and a kickoff and a punt return for a touchdown.
Sheffield ranked third overall in the 2017 junior college recruiting class, first at the cornerback position, according to 247Sports. He chose the Buckeyes over USC, Texas A&M and TCU.
He’ll have two years of eligibility left on the football field, giving him ample time to find his way in the Buckeyes’ secondary. Sheffiled should prove to be a solid defensive back in the secondary next to highly-touted recruit Jeffrey Okudah as well.
The departures of Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore to the NFL Draft open up the door for Sheffield and Okudah to contribute right away.
DE, Last School: JUCO
Defensive end Isaiah Buggs arrives on the Alabama Crimson Tide’s campus with a ton of promise. Buggs was a top junior college prospect this past recruiting cycle with offers from numerous top college football programs.
He was a member of the highly-touted Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College football team for the past two seasons. Buggs ranked as a four-star prospect, according to 247Sports, but was the second-overall player and number one defensive end in the 2017 JUCO recruiting class. At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, Buggs is a freak-athlete with tons of upside.
Buggs racked up 75 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for the Bulldogs in 2016 as a sophomore. He’ll enroll in Tuscaloosa as a junior with two years of eligibility left.
With just one senior at the weak-side defensive end position (Da’Shawn Hand), Buggs should contribute right away on one of the best defenses in the country. Buggs looks to replace defensive end Jonathan Allen as well, 17th overall pick to the Washington Redskins.
QB, Last School: Baylor
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham looks to begin a new legacy after starting as a true freshman at Baylor. When quarterback Seth Russell went down with injury, Stidham stepped in and handled himself perfectly.
He threw for 1,265 passing yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games for the Baylor Bears in 2015. The Bears finished with a 10-3 record that season. Things were running smoothly for him before the firing of Art Briles, which triggered his transfer elsewhere.
Stidham spent the past season at McLennan Community College. While he enters the football ranks at Auburn, he attended a junior college without a football program in 2016.
He could challenge for the starting job against current quarterback Sean White. White ultimately become the Tigers’ starting quarterback after John Franklin III among others failed to work out under center.
White went on to throw for 1,679 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns in 2016. Auburn finished with an 8-5 record last season.
QB, Last School: Florida
Quarterback Will Grier was enjoying a 6-0 start and a lot of hype with the Florida Gators back in 2015. It all came to a screeching halt when he was suspended for the season for performance-enhancing drugs.
Reports showed he was accused of taking Ligandrol, a substance that although it’s not listed on the NCAA’s banned substance list, is still a banned substance nonetheless.
The confusion led to a number of falsehoods, including a report that said Grier had gained 40 pounds in a year. The figure was actually 22 pounds.
Despite all the hoopla, Grier threw for 1,202 passing yards and 10 touchdowns before being suspended. His presence was largely missed as the Gators finished 4-4 after his suspension.
Now, Grier looks to pick up where he left off with the West Virginia Mountaineers, a team in desperate need of a quarterback. He’ll be tested early too as the Mountaineers open the season against former rival Virginia Tech on Sept. 3.
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