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The transfer portal classes that will impact the 2023 College Football Playoff field

On3 imageby:Jesse Simonton06/15/23


Last season, none of the four teams that made the 2022 College Football Playoff ranked in the Top 60 of On3’s Transfer Portal Rankings. 

TCU brought in 13 transfers in Year 1 under Sonny Dykes, but only a handful (namely corner Josh Newton and center Alan Ali) emerged as real contributors on the Horned Frogs’ magical Hypnotoad ride to the national title game. 

Michigan and Ohio State brought in just two transfers apiece. The reigning two-time champions Georgia signed none. 

But the portal could have a much larger impact on who makes the final season of the four-team field this fall. Several schools in the mix have loaded up on transfers, while some of the top contenders for the College Football Playoff plugged key holes with multiple transfers. 

So which 2023 transfer portal classes will have the most impact on this year’s playoff field?


Lincoln Riley continues to make his case as the Portal King, adding 14 more newcomers to the roster this offseason. The Trojans raided Pac-12 counterpart Arizona for its best wideout (Dorian Singer), corner (Christian Roland-Wallace) and defensive lineman (Kyon Barrs). 

They shored up their offensive line with Wyoming guard Emmanuel Pregnon, a key addition in the spring window, and tackles Michael Tarquin, who immediately won the left tackle job in the spring, and Jarrett Kingston

But the reason there’s so much optimism in Los Angeles this offseason is because of how Riley went about addressing USC’s defensive roster. The Trojans added a bear (former 5-star Georgia DT Bear Alexander) and a pack of other impact maulers like All-Big 12 linebacker Mason Cobb, former 5-star edge rusher Anthony Lucas and Purdue end Jack Sullivan

This unit needed talent and depth and added both. 

With Caleb Williams back at QB, USC simply needs to play serviceable on defense in 2023 to win the Pac-12 (its first since 2017) and potentially make the College Football Playoff for the first time.

If they hit on enough of their defensive additions, they will. 


Brian Kelly doesn’t want to live long-term via the transfer portal, but the former Notre Dame head coach has used the outlet as a way to beef up LSU’s roster his first two seasons in Baton Rouge. 

The SEC West champs added 13 transfers to the roster during the 2023 cycle. 

For the second-straight autumn, the Tigers’ secondary will feature a whole new host of faces, with Denver Harris, a former 5-star recruit from Texas A&M, Darian ‘Duce’ Chestnut, a Freshman All-American in 2021 from Syracuse, Ohio State backup corner Jakailin Johnson and Zy Alexander, an FCS All-American who had nine picks in two seasons at Southeastern Louisiana, all competing for starting spots. 

All-Pac 12 transfer Omar Speights will pair with Harold Perkins to form one of the top 1-2 LB tandems in the country, while Maryland tackle Mason Lunsford (a 13-game starter last season) is a great addition to an offensive line that returns all five starters in 2023. 

The Tigers also signed several quality defensive linemen/edge defenders who figure to compete for playing time this fall. 

Two potential game-changing transfers on offense are former Alabama speedster Aaron Anderson, a New Orleans native, and Notre Dame tailback Logan Diggs. 

Running back was a question mark for LSU entering the summer, but the recent addition of Diggs, who signed with Kelly in 2021 and had over 1,000 total yards as a sophomore in 2022) fills a real need. 

With the rest of its returning roster + notable additions like Speights and Diggs, LSU has the makeup of a College Football Playoff team. Whether the Tigers can win the SEC West again and crack the field will likely depend on how a reshuffled secondary shakes out — starting in Week 1 in a monster game vs. FSU.

Florida State

The Seminoles are the favorites to win the ACC this fall in large part because of how Mike Norvell has stacked impressive transfer portal classes on top of one another the last three years. 

FSU’s latest haul — 11 transfers in total — includes likely starters at receiver (Michigan State wideout Keon Coleman), tight end (Jahiem Bell and Kyle Morlock), defensive tackle (Western Michigan defensive lineman Brandon Fiske), corner (Fentrell Cypress) and offensive line (Jeremiah Byers and Auburn guard Keiondre Jones). 

Bell, Fiske, Cypress and Byers are among the best players in the portal at their positions, and a similar case could be made for Coleman if receiver wasn’t so loaded this year among transfers. 

Depth pieces like South Carolina edge rusher Gilber Edmond and Penn State tailback Caziah Holmes were solid additions for FSU, too. 

Former transfers Jordan Travis and Jared Verse have emerged as stars for the Seminoles, and Norvell’s 2023 group could be the missing pieces that help FSU get back to the top of the ACC standings and into the CFP field for the first time since 2016. 


The Wolverines were much more aggressive using the transfer portal to supplement their roster in 2023. The two-time Big Ten champs retooled their offensive line with a pair of Stanford transfers — center Drake Nugent and guard Myles Hinton — and one of the best available tackle/guard linemen in LaDarius Henderson from Arizona State.

Nugent and Henderson are shoe-ins to start for Sherrone Moore, while Hinton figures to be a rotational piece, at worst. 

Michigan needed help at pass rusher and linebacker, too, so Jim Harbaugh went out and landed Nebraska’s Ernest Hausmann, a versatile inside linebacker with a high upside and multiple years of eligibility remaining, and Josaiah Stewart, who flashed his edge skill set during the Wolverines’ spring game. 

Looking to “chase perfection” in 2023, Michigan left no stone unturned, adding the top kicker in the transfer portal (Louisville’s James Turner) and veteran tight end AJ Barner from Indiana.

This is a group — one way or another — that will determine whether Michigan makes the CFP for the third year in a row — or doesn’t. 


The Crimson Tide had too many whiffs in the transfer portal in 2022, but Nick Saban has gone back to the well this offseason, hoping this year’s quintet pans out better. 

After signing the No. 1 class in the country, the Tide filled their remaining holes with five transfers — all of whom could start in 2023. 

In the first window, Alabama added Maryland tight end CJ Dippre and Georgia reserve inside linebacker Trezmen Marshall — both of whom will start. During the spring, the Tide shored up their secondary with two Group of 5 defensive backs in Louisiana corner Trey Amos and UAB safety Jalen Key, beating out fellow CFP contenders FSU and LSU for both prospects. While neither comes to Tuscaloosa with a ton of name cache to causal fans, both pickups were important for Alabama — as evidenced by the fact that they’re the first two non-Power 5 transfers to sign with the Tide in the Nick Saban era. 

But the addition that could have the biggest impact on Alabama’s hopes of returning to the playoff is former Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner. After spending the spring coaching Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson, new OC Tommy Rees opted to bring in his former quarterback to compete for the job in fall camp. 

Buchner could be nothing more than an insurance option for Alabama in 2023, but if he emerges as the Tide’s QB1, then he’ll have a major say in whether or not they can compete for the SEC and get back to the playoff this fall.


Barring stunning seasons, neither Oklahoma or Auburn figures to make a run toward the playoff this year, but both programs could have a big say in those favored to make it after the way they upgraded their rosters this offseason.

The Sooners revamped their defense, with Indiana hybrid edge rusher Dasan McCullough headlining a group of six DL/edge additions from the portal. OU also added a trio of offensive linemen and multiple tight ends among its 17 overall transfers. If the group comes together, could the Sooners play spoiler on Texas’ College Football Playoff hopes this fall?

Similarly, Hugh Freeze used the transfer portal to quickly change the outlook of Auburn’s roster. The Tigers play playoff hopefuls LSU, Alabama and Georgia in 2023, and if a cast of 20 transfers — including over a dozen likely starters on each side of the ball — finds cohesion early, Auburn could pull off an upset that shakes up the CFP field.