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Monday night transfer portal notebook: On ACC quarterbacks, Alabama’s losses, Arizona losing 3 starters, other QBs available and more

Mike Huguenin12/05/22
Article written by:On3 imageMike Huguenin


On3 image
(From left, Kedon Slovis, Brennan Armstrong and D.J. Uiagalelei/photos from Getty Images)

A wrap-up of notable doings from the first day of the FBS transfer portal open window. As of 10 p.m. ET Monday, 465 FBS scholarship players had gone into the portal on the first day.

QB shopping? Head to the ACC

Going into the season, this was supposed to be “The Year of the Quarterback” in the ACC. As we head into the offseason, that moniker has become “The Land of the Transfer Quarterback.”

Six ACC quarterbacks who started this season are in the transfer portal: Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong (6 feet 2, 210 pounds), Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec (6-5, 214), NC State’s Devin Leary (6-1, 212), Georgia Tech’s Jeff Sims (6-4, 219), Pitt’s Kedon Slovis (6-3, 215) and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei (6-4, 235).

All six will have their share of suitors, but Leary and Armstrong figure to get the most attention.

Armstrong threw for 4,449 yards and 31 TDs in 2021, but a coaching change led to his stats falling off the table this season. He threw for less than half of what he did in ’21 (2,210, with just seven TDs), and while he led the team in rush attempts, he managed just 371 yards and six TDs. In a system that favors the pass but likes its quarterback to be a running threat, Armstrong – an Ohio native who has one season of eligibility remaining – can put up big numbers again.

Leary threw for 3,433 yards and 35 TDs in 2021, but injuries and less-than-stellar surrounding talent led to a tough 2022. He played in just six games and threw for 1,265 yards and 11 TDs. As with Armstrong, Leary – who is from New Jersey – can put up big numbers again in the right situation.

All six should benefit from new surroundings. Jurkovec already has announced he’s transferring to Pitt; he is a Pittsburgh-area native, and if he can stay healthy, he will be an upgrade over Slovis.

Uiagalelei is one to watch. He looked like a future star when he started twice for an injured Trevor Lawrence in 2020, but he struggled as the Tigers’ fulltime starter the past two seasons. He has intriguing tools, and it’ll be interesting to see if his next OC/quarterback coach can get good numbers out of him.

7 Alabama players enter portal

Alabama guard Javion Cohen (6-4, 305), a two-year starter, was one of seven Tide scholarship players to enter the portal Monday. Cohen, from Phenix City, Ala., has two seasons’ eligibility remaining and should be one of the most popular interior linemen in the portal.

Three receivers, including two part-time starters, also went in. The part-time starters: JoJo Earle and Traeshon Holden, who combined for 37 receptions and eight TDs this fall. Holden had six of those scoring catches, though he had just 10 receptions and three TDs in eight games against SEC foes. Holden is from the Orlando area, but first attended Baltimore St. Frances Academy before transferring to Narbonne High in Harbor City, Calif., in the L.A. area. Earle is from the Dallas Metroplex.

Reserve receiver Christian Leary, an Orlando native, also entered the portal; he had four catches in two seasons. As a group, Alabama’s receivers were underwhelming this season.

All three receivers have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Arizona hit hard by transfers

Arizona coach Jedd Fisch did good work in the transfer portal in the offseason, bringing in a handful of starters, including quarterback Jayden de Laura and wide receiver Jacob Cowing. They helped Arizona go from 1-11 last season to 4-8 this fall, including wins over UCLA and FCS power North Dakota State.

Well, Fisch now is finding out that while the portal can give, it also can take away. Three Wildcats starters entered the portal Monday, including standout receiver Dorian Singer, who is going to be an extremely hot transfer commodity.

Singer (6 feet 1, 185 pounds) was part of one of the nation’s top receiving trios with Cowing and standout true freshman Tetairoa McMillan. Singer had 66 receptions for 1,105 yards (16.7 per catch) and six TDs this season. He was tied for the Pac-12 lead with five receptions of at least 40 yards and with 11 for at least 30; he led the league with 21 receptions of at least 20 yards. Singer is a native of St. Paul, Minn., who went to his senior high school in Phoenix to increase his recruiting visibility. He arrived at Arizona as a preferred walk-on but quickly earned a scholarship; he has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Another Wildcats starter in the portal is nose tackle Kyon Barrs (6-3, 310). He was a two-year starter and a second-team all-league performer in 2021. He had 33 tackles and eight tackles for loss in 2021, then 39 tackles and 4.5 TFL this season. Barrs, from the L.A. suburbs, has one season of eligibility remaining.

Starting free safety Jaxen Turner (6-2, 210), who led the Wildcats with 79 tackles, also is in the transfer portal. He was a part-time starter in his first two seasons on campus, then earned a starting job in 2021 and kept it this season. Turner, who is from the L.A suburbs, also had two picks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup this fall. He has one season of eligibility remaining.

A key reserve in the portal is linebacker Kolbe Cage (6-1, 215), a redshirt freshman from New Orleans. Cage had 24 tackles and two pass breakups this season.

Western Kentucky QB will be at a Power 5 school next

In 2021, Austin Reed was the starting quarterback for Division II West Florida. This season, he was the starter at Western Kentucky and threw for 4,247 yards, second-most nationally. Next season? He almost certainly will be throwing it around for a Power 5 school.

Reed (6-2, 230) entered the transfer portal Monday after helping the Hilltoppers to an 8-4 regular-season record. Reed, from St. Augustine, Fla., has one season of eligibility remaining. He has some running ability; he was second on the team with 87 rushing attempts and led WKU with eight rushing touchdowns. Reed is third nationally with 548 passing attempts and second with 353 completions (64.4 percent); he is fourth nationally with 36 TD passes, one behind tri-leaders C.J. Stroud, Clayton Tune and Caleb Williams.

Western Kentucky center Rusty Staats (6-4, 310), a two-year starter, also entered the portal. Staats, from the Nashville area, has one season of eligibility remaining.

Texas Tech QB looking for new home

Texas Tech’s Donovan Smith (6-5, 230), who started the first five games at quarterback for the Red Raiders this season before losing the job, entered the portal and will gather some interest.

Smith made four starts late in 2021, then opened this season as the starter. He threw for 1,475 yards and 12 TDs in those five games but also tossed eight picks. He is an athletic big guy (6-5, 230) with good mobility. Smith had 76 rushing attempts this season, third-most on the team despite having just nine attempts in the final seven regular-season games. He tied for the team lead with seven rushing touchdowns.

Smith is a Las Vegas native who played his final season of high school ball in the Lubbock area because his dad, DeAndre, was hired as the Red Raiders’ running backs coach. His father now is the New York Jets’ running backs coach.

2 Iowa WRs hoping to duplicate Charlie Jones’ success

Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones was one of the biggest portal success stories this season. He had 21 receptions in two seasons at Iowa, then transferred to Purdue; he leads the nation in receptions (110) and receiving yards (1,361) and is tied for fourth in TD receptions (12). Former Iowa teammates Arland Bruce IV and Keagan Johnson will be looking to do the same thing.

Bruce and Johnson entered the portal Monday. Neither did much with the Hawkeyes, but Iowa had one of the most unproductive passing attacks in the nation. Both were On3 Consensus four-star prospects in the 2021 class; Bruce is from Kansas, Johnson from Nebraska.

Johnson had 18 catches and was a legit big-play guy as a true freshman in 2021 (19.6 yards per catch), but he played in just two games this season because of a variety of injuries. Bruce had 44 receptions in two seasons but for just 396 yards. While he and Johnson have legit upsides, expecting them to produce Jones-level numbers is a little too much. Still, they will have their fair share of suitors.

Quick decision for Cal linebacker

California linebacker Oluwafemi Oladejo went into the portal Monday but already has chosen his next destination. Oladejo (6-3, 255), who is from the San Francisco area, announced he is headed to UCLA.

He was second on the Golden Bears and fifth in the Pac-12 with 91 tackles this season. Oladejo, who had 36 tackles as a reserve as a true freshman in 2021, added 4.5 tackles for loss, an interception, a pass breakup and a forced fumble this fall.

Transfers you may have overlooked

+ UTEP OT Jeremiah Byers: An experienced lineman with starting experience? Who doesn’t want one of those? Byers (6-4, 331), from Austin, Texas, was a two-year starter for the Miners at right tackle after two seasons as a part-time starter. He has earned some All-Conference USA acclaim and has two seasons of eligibility of remaining. Byers will be a hot portal commodity.

+ Kent State WR Dante Cephas: Cephas, a Pittsburgh native with two seasons of eligibility remaining, was one of the most productive receivers in the MAC in each of the past two seasons, earning first-team all-conference accolades both seasons. He had 130 receptions for 1,984 yards and 12 TDs in the past two seasons in a high-powered version of the spread with the Golden Flashes, and is destined for a Power 5 team.

+ Virginia CB Fentrell Cypress: Cypress, a grad transfer with two seasons’ eligibility remaining, was a second-team All-ACC selection this season. He was a part-time starter last season but emerged as a key defensive cog for new coordinator John Rudzinski this season. Cypress, from Rock Hill, S.C., had 39 tackles and a league-high 13 pass breakups this fall.

+ Vanderbilt RB Ray Davis: Davis (5-9, 205) was fourth in the SEC in rushing yards with 1,042. He had five 100-yard games this season, including 167 against South Carolina. Davis, who is from the San Francisco area but went to high school at The Blair Academy in New Jersey, began his career at Temple and has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

+ Maryland TE C.J. Dippre: Dippre (6-5, 260) started for the Terps and had 30 receptions for 314 yards and three TDs in a good passing attack. Dippre, from Scranton, Pa., had TD catches vs. Michigan and Ohio State this season. He has two years of eligibility remaining. Maryland tight ends coach Mike Miller left last week to become the offensive coordinator at Charlotte under new coach Biff Poggi.

+ FIU TE Rivaldo Fairweather: Fairweather (6-5, 245) was an under-the-radar guy this season who will be on the radar for Power 5 teams looking for a flex tight end. He had 28 receptions for 426 yards (15.2 yards per catch) and three TDs. All three TDs came in the regular-season finale against Middle Tennessee State, but Fairweather’s skill set is intriguing. Fairweather, who has two seasons of eligibility, is a Fort Lauderdale native. LB Gaethan Bernadel, FIU’s leading tackler, also entered the portal. Bernadel (6-1, 210), also a Fort Lauderdale-area native, had 103 tackles, second-most in Conference USA; he also was second on the team with eight tackles for loss and has two seasons’ eligibility remaining.

+ Wisconsin G Michael Furtney: Hey, another experienced offensive lineman! Furtney (6-5, 315) started eight games for the Badgers this season after serving as a key reserve in each of the past three seasons. Furtney, who is from Milan, Mich., which is south of Detroit, has one season of eligibility remaining. He played in 43 career games with 11 starts for the Badgers.

+ USC LB Ralen Goforth: Goforth (6-2, 225) started 13 games combined in 2020 and ’21, but didn’t see near as much playing time with the new coaching staff. He started three games this season because of injuries to others and finished with 43 tackles. Goforth, who played at powerhouse St. John Bosco in the L.A. area, has one season of eligibility remaining.

+ Arizona State G LaDarius Henderson: Henderson (6-5, 310) was a three-season starter for the Sun Devils and has one season of eligibility remaining. Henderson is from Waxahachie, Texas, in suburban Dallas. He started at left tackle as a true freshman in 2019 and started at guard in each of the past two seasons. Sun Devils DT Omarr Norman-Lott (6-3, 290) also is in the portal; he was a part-time starter this season and had 44 tackles and seven tackles for loss in the past two seasons. Norman-Lott, from the Sacramento area, has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

+ Purdue G Spencer Holstege: Another experienced offensive lineman. Holstege (6-5, 320), a grad transfer, was a three-year starter for the Boilermakers who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He is from Grand Rapids, Mich.

+ Washington State WR Donovan Ollie: Ollie (6-3, 212) was a two-year starter for the Cougars who had 69 catches the past two seasons. He was third on the team with 43 receptions this season. Ollie is from Wylie, Texas, in the Dallas suburbs; he has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

+ Tulsa S Kendarin Ray: Ray (6-3, 208) was a two-season starter for the Golden Hurricane and finished third on the team with 86 tackles. That total was 10th in the AAC. He also had an interception, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Ray is from Brenham, Texas, in the east-central part of the state, and he has one season of eligibility remaining.

+ Cincinnati CB Ja’Quan Sheppard: Sheppard (6-2, 200) had a solid season in his first as a starter; he took over for Sauce Gardner as the Bearcats’ boundary corner. He had 50 tackles and 10 pass breakups this fall after spending his first three seasons as a reserve safety. Sheppard is from Zephyrhills, Fla., about 30 miles northeast of Tampa, and has one season of eligibility remaining.

+ Nevada OT Grant Starck: Starck (6-5, 292) was the only offensive lineman to start every game for the Wolf Pack this season, at left tackle. Starck is from Springfield, Ore., near Eugene. He was an honorable mention All-Mountain West selection this season, his first as a starter, and has two years of eligibility remaining.

+ Wyoming CB Cam Stone: Stone (5-10, 188), a first-year starter, had 35 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups for the Cowboys. Stone, who is from the Houston area, has two seasons of eligibility remaining Wyoming had two corners transfer to Power 5 schools last offseason: C.J. Coldon to Oklahoma and Azizi Hearn to UCLA.

+ Others: Cincinnati K Ryan Coe is 19-of-23 on field goals this season and was a second-team All-AAC selection. Coe, from the Pittsburgh area, transferred to Cincinnati in the offseason from Delaware. … ULM LB Tristan Driggers (6-2, 204) was second on the team in tackles with 63 after transferring in from junior college in the offseason. Driggers, who played safety in junior college, is from Hallsville, Texas, in the eastern part of the state. He has two seasons’ eligibility remaining. … Central Michigan P Luke Elzinga was a third-team All-MAC selection this season, averaging 43.0 yards per attempt; he has two seasons of eligibility remaining. … Northwestern starting CB A.J. Hampton (5-11, 180), who went to high school in Tampa but is an Arkansas native, had 21 tackles this season. He finished his Wildcats career with 19 career starts, two picks, 18 pass breakups and 101 tackles. He has one year of eligibility left. … Oklahoma State S Thomas Harper (5-11, 180) started seven games this season and finished with 30 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups. Harper, who’s from Knoxville, Tenn., has two seasons of eligibility left. … UCF starting LB Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste (6-2, 230), a Miami-area native, was third on the team with 52 tackles this season. He had been a part-time starter/key reserve in 2020 and ’21, and has one season of eligibility remaining. … UMass starting TE Josiah Johnson (6-5, 235) was third on the team with 24 receptions – but for just 163 yards for one of the least-productive pass offenses in the nation. Johnson, from small-school power Jacksonville Bolles, had 59 receptions in four seasons with the Minutemen; he has one season of eligibility remaining. … Kaleb Smith led an anemic Virginia Tech offense with 37 receptions. But those 37 receptions went for 674 yards (18.22 yards per catch). Smith (6-2, 222) had 74 receptions in four seasons and has one season of eligibility remaining. He is a native of northeast Virginia.