Michigan Wolverines football added two transfers in Virginia grad center Olusegun Oluwatimi and UCF grad defensive tackle Cam Goode. Other teams around the Big Ten were even more active in the transfer portal, and Michigan will have to take on some high-level newcomers this season.
On3’s Mike Huguenin released his rankings of the top 10 most impactful transfers in the Big Ten this season, a projection of how they will perform. Here, we take a look at the seven that will face the Wolverines in the regular season (in order of how Huguenin ranked them).
1. Michigan State RB Jarek Broussard (Colorado)
Michigan State’s Jarek Broussard is one of two Spartans to land on this list, and he tops Huguenin’s rankings. Broussard played for MSU head coach Mel Tucker with the Buffaloes in 2019, and rushed for 1,556 yards during his career in Boulder.
Folks in East Lansing are hoping he and Wisconsin running back transfer Jalen Berger, who was dismissed from the Badger program in the middle of last season, will help replace what Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III did a year ago.
“Kenneth Walker III accounted for 72 percent of Michigan State’s rushing yards and 78 percent of its rushing touchdowns last season,” Huguenin wrote. “Alas, he’s now in the NFL. He was a transfer portal addition, and Spartans coaches went the same route this offseason.
“They brought in Jarek Broussard from Colorado to be the lead back. Broussard isn’t going to be as prolific (Walker rushed for 1,636 yards and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best back), but he’s still a vital addition. He led Colorado in rushing in each of the past two seasons; he was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2020, when he rushed for 895 yards in six games in 2020 (149.2 yards per game, third nationally). Broussard did that in an offense that didn’t have much of a passing attack.
“Broussard isn’t as good between the tackles and won’t be a 22-carry-a-game guy like Walker. But he has good quickness and big-play ability.”
2. Nebraska EDGE Ochaun Mathis (TCU)
The EDGE spot was one of the biggest question marks for Nebraska at the beginning of the offseason, and Ochaun Mathis was a major addition.
“Nebraska had just 20 sacks last season, which ranked tied for 101st nationally; the Huskers were 96th in the truncated 2020 season at 1.6 sacks per game,” Huguenin explained. “In short, the Blackshirts need a big-time pass rusher and Ochaun Mathis should be the guy. Nebraska returns its top two edge rushers from last season in Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor — but they combined for just seven sacks as full-time starters.
“Mathis had a big 2020 (nine sacks in 10 games) but struggled in 2021 (four sacks in 12 games). If he regains his 2020 form, he will vie for all-league honors. Mathis started for three seasons with the Horned Frogs and had 30.5 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries.”
3. Penn State WR Mitchell Tinsley (Western Kentucky)
Penn State wideout Mitchell Tinsley transferred up from the Conference USA, but he should make a big impact in what is an impressive corps of Nittany Lion receivers.
“It’s not going out on a limb to say Penn State will have one of the three or four most productive passing attacks in the Big Ten. One of the reasons, of course, is that the league doesn’t have a lot of high-powered passing offenses,” Huguenin wrote. “Still, expect the Nittany Lions to do damage in the air even without first-round pick Jahan Dotson.
“The addition of Mitchell Tinsley from the transfer portal is big in that regard. He was one of the most productive receivers in the nation last season in Western Kentucky’s pass-happy attack, with 87 receptions for 1,402 yards and 14 TDs. The receptions total was 16th nationally, while he was eighth in receiving yards and fifth in TD receptions; he did all that as Western’s No. 2 receiver.
“He’s likely to be the Nittany Lions’ No. 2 guy, too, behind holdover Parker Washington. Tinsley, Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith form a potent trio.”
4. Ohio State S Tanner McCalister (Oklahoma State)
Michigan’s biggest rival hired defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State, and he brought safety Tanner McCalister with him.
“Ohio State’s defense was less-than-stellar for much of last season, and that included the secondary,” Huguenin wrote. “Things should be different this season with Jim Knowles as the new coordinator. Tanner McCalister followed Knowles from Oklahoma State.
“McCalister was a two-year starter at Oklahoma State. He signed with the Cowboys as a cornerback and played extensively as a reserve corner in 2018 and ’19. He moved to safety in 2020 and became a starter, and kept his starting spot in 2021. McCalister had 34 tackles, an interception and five pass breakups last season for one of the nation’s best defenses.
“McCalister’s versatility, experience and knowledge of Knowles’ scheme will make him an important part of a reconfigured Buckeyes secondary.”
5. Nebraska QB Casey Thompson (Texas)
For the first time since 2017, it won’t be Adrian Martinez, who Michigan faced in both 2018 and 2021, behind center for Nebraska. Former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson and Martinez swapped conferences, with the latter heading to Kansas State and the Big 12.
“Nebraska coach Scott Frost has remade his offensive staff, taken a pay cut and changed his buyout terms,” Huguenin began. “That means there is a lot of pressure on Casey Thompson, who replaces Adrian Martinez as the Huskers’ starting quarterback.
“Thompson started the last 10 games of the 2021 season for Texas after taking over for Hudson Card, and led the Big 12 with 24 touchdown passes. He threw for 2,113 yards and nine interceptions, and also ran for 157 yards and four scores.
“One issue: He had better surrounding skill-position talent at Texas. Thompson also needs to cut down on his interceptions. (A quarterback who is turnover-prone? Unfortunately, that is something Huskers fans are familiar with.)
“Thompson chose Nebraska after Mark Whipple was hired as offensive coordinator. Whipple worked wonders with Kenny Pickett — but also worked with him for more than one year.”
6. Maryland WR Jacob Copeland (Florida)
Maryland has one of the best wide receiving corps in the Big Ten, right up there with Michigan behind Ohio State, and former Florida wideout Jacob Copeland adds some more talent to the group.
“Maryland is going to have a high-powered passing attack, and Jacob Copeland’s arrival gives the Terps an intriguing trio at wide receiver,” Huguenin analyzed. “He joins a group that includes premier targets Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus Jr. But Demus is coming back from a torn ACL and may not be 100 percent when the season begins.
“Copeland was a two-year starter at Florida and always served as a complementary piece. Can he be more if needed? Inconsistency has been an issue – forget drive-to-drive consistency; he had issues play-to-play. But he can make the contested catch, has good speed and now is in an offense that will throw the ball a lot more than the Gators did last season.”
7. Michigan State EDGE Khris Bogle (Florida)
Another Florida transfer, Michigan State EDGE Khris Bogle adds to what should be a strong front-seven.
“Michigan State had 43 sacks last season, which ranked sixth nationally, but lost two of its top three sack men,” Huguenin pointed out. “Khris Bogle, a former national top-60 recruit in the 2019 signing class, has the potential to be a big help in that facet. He started seven games in his three seasons at Florida and had 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in his Gators career.
“Bogle, who lacked consistent opportunities at Florida, has the athleticism to thrive in the Spartans’ aggressive defensive scheme.”