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Transfer portal breakdown: The key transfer for each Big Ten West team

Mike Huguenin06/16/22
Article written by:On3 imageMike Huguenin

MikeHuguenin

CaseyThompsonNebraskaspring
(Courtesy of Nebraska Athletics)

This is a slow period in the transfer portal, and the current portal lull is a good time to do a league-by-league re-examination of the transfer portal comings and goings. Today, we’ll examine the key newcomer for each Big Ten West team. Friday, we’ll look at how each division team will replace its key departure. We already have covered the key incoming and outgoing transfers in the Big Ten East.

And over the next two weeks, we’ll continue the series with overall league looks at the Big 12 and Pac-12, as well as an overview of the Group of 5 leagues and independents.

We’ve already looked at the key incoming and outgoing transfers in the ACC Atlantic, the important incoming and outgoing transfers in the ACC Coastal, the key incoming and outgoing transfers for SEC East teams and the key incoming and outgoing transfers in the SEC West.

Illinois

Player: QB Tommy DeVito, from Syracuse
The skinny: DeVito had a checkered career at Syracuse. He was the Orange’s main backup as a true freshman in 2018 and played a key role in two wins for a 10-3 team. DeVito then was the starter in 2019 and started the first four games in 2020 before being hurt and missing the rest of the season. He started the first three games last season before losing his job, then entered the transfer portal in October. Is he better than holdover Artur Sitkowski, who began his career at Rutgers before transferring after the 2020 season? Sitkowski started three games last season in relief of an injured Brandon Peters. DeVito provides more mobility, is a better passer and figures to be the starter. Regardless, the Illini are going to pound the ball.

Iowa

Player: TE Steve Stilianos, from Lafayette
The skinny: He is the only transfer portal addition for the Hawkeyes. Stilianos (6 feet 5, 250 pounds) is a physical presence who was a first-team All-Patriot League selection last season. Iowa frequently uses two-tight end sets, and Stilianos should be a nice complement to potential All-Big Ten tight end Sam LaPorta. Stilianos was a three-year starter for the Leopards after being a part-time starter as a true freshman in 2018. He was a solid receiver and an effective blocker for Lafayette.

Minnesota

Player: CB Beanie Bishop, from Western Kentucky
The skinny: Bishop was a first-team All-Conference USA selection for the Hilltoppers last season, when he started at both corner and nickelback. He had 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three picks, including one returned for a TD in a rout of Middle Tennessee State. Bishop also was an effective kick returner for the Hilltoppers and could see time in that role with the Golden Gophers. Minnesota has the makings of an effective secondary; both starting safeties return and there looks to be a solid group of corners/nickels. Bishop is expected to start at one of the corner spots.

Nebraska

Player: QB Casey Thompson, from Texas
The skinny: Thompson replaces Adrian Martinez, who transferred to Kansas State, as the starter. 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. This is going to be interesting.

Northwestern

Player: G Vince Picozzi, from Colorado State
The skinny: Picozzi is a seventh-year senior; he began his career as a walk-on at Temple in 2016 and spent five seasons there before moving to Colorado State last season and now Northwestern. Picozzi started fulltime for three seasons at Temple and was a part-time starter as a redshirt freshman in 2017; he also started three times for Colorado State last season before being injured, which caused him to miss the final two months of the season. Northwestern has a good group of running backs and a questionable passing attack, so the Wildcats definitely want to run the ball. That fits Picozzi well: He can be a road-grader in the run game and that could mean he earns a starting role; at the least, he provides solid depth.

Purdue

Player: WR Charlie Jones, from Iowa
The skinny: This is an interesting intra-division transfer. The crux of it: Jones is going from a team that wants to run the ball to a team that throws the ball a lot and has a much more … ahem … sophisticated passing attack. He began his career at Buffalo before leaving and walking-on at Iowa, where he eventually earned a scholarship. Jones is not suited to be a go-to receiver, but given Purdue’s issues at receiver (David Bell is in the NFL and Milton Wright, who would’ve been the go-to guy, is academically ineligible), he still figures to be a frequent target for QB Aidan O’Connell. Jones’ short-area quickness makes him a good fit in the slot. His return ability – he was one of the best return men (punts and kickoffs) in the Big Ten last season – is a bonus for the Boilermakers.

Wisconsin

Player: CB Jay Shaw, from UCLA
The skinny: Shaw started 16 games in his five-year Bruins career (he redshirted as a true freshman in 2017) and is one of three corners Wisconsin brought in via the transfer portal. Shaw was a full-time starter in 2020 and a part-time starter in 2019 and last season; he earned some second-team All-Pac-12 acclaim last season, when he tied for the team lead with three interceptions. Shaw seems likely to line up as the starter next to holdover corner Alexander Smith (both are from the L.A. area). Justin Clark (from Toledo) and Cedrick Dort (Kentucky) are the other transfer corners; all three will see a lot of time for a position group that, by far, has the most questions on the Badgers’ defense.