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College football transfer portal winners and losers for the 2022 season

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The deadline for players to enter the transfer portal and receive immediate eligibility for the 2022 college football season came on May 1, bringing a pause to what's been a hectic few months for teams.

More than 2,000 players transferred during the most recent school year, including some very high-profile prospects looking for a new start for the coming season.

Although, as the official numbers from the NCAA show, a little more than half of players actually find another school to play for.

What programs made the most of the transfer portal this offseason, and which didn't? Here are the winners and losers from the most recent cycle.

College football transfer portal winners and losers

Winner: USC

College football powerhouse USC hired Lincoln Riley to get the Trojans back in the playoff rankings.

Lincoln Riley didn't waste any time remaking the Trojans roster in his image, attracting a pile of blue-chip transfers right after his bombshell move to USC from Oklahoma.

The highlight of that group is former 5-star quarterback Caleb Williams, who originally pledged to Riley at OU and followed the coach out west. Williams, the former top recruit in the nation, showed immense potential during his short time as Oklahoma's starter a year ago.

He also comes into the season already on a short list of Heisman Trophy favorites, and he's surrounded by a cast of able skill talent, not least including Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, whose 17 TD catches led college football last season. 

USC lost some talent, too, including a pair of quarterbacks in Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart and tight end Michael Trigg, but the Trojans gained more than they lost.

Loser: West Virginia

jt daniels west virginia

It might seem counter-intuitive to call the Mountaineers a transfer portal loser. They did after all just sign quarterback JT Daniels away from Georgia. And while the former 5-star recruit brings a ton of unrealized potential, this team lost a ton, too.

In all, 20 players elected to transfer away from West Virginia, including five starters on defense and other key pieces: quarterback Jarret Doege, lead receiver Winston Wright, defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor, linebacker Josh Chandler, tackler Jackie Matthews, and corners David Vincent-Okoli, Nicktroy Fourtune, and Jacob Long.

Winner: Texas

Texas landed 5-star quarterback Quinn Ewers in the college football transfer portal, a major addition for the Longhorns.

While the Longhorns signing No. 1 2023 player Arch Manning gets most of the pub lately, 2nd-year coach Steve Sarkisian built a nice little foundation for this season, too.

Leading the way in a group of solid skill pickups was former 5-star Texas pledge quarterback Quinn Ewers, coming over from Ohio State back to the 40 Acres. He's low on experience, but potentially stratospheric on potential, with analysts praising a skill set that matches perfectly with running a 21st century offense.

Wide receivers Isaiah Neyor and Agiye Hall and tight end Jahleel Billingsley form a good core to build off alongside existing options in wideout Xavier Worthy and Bijan Robinson, arguably the best back in college football.

Somewhat overlooked, but equally as important, was Texas' signing former FCS linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey to center this defense, along with former Ohio State corner Ryan Watts. Both are charged with improving a Texas defense that gave up over 31 ppg and struggled developing its pass rush.

Loser: Arizona State

herm edwards arizona state

There was a lot of traffic going into and out of Tempe this offseason, with the Sun Devils inking a top 15 transfer group, but losing out on a ton of vital contributors.

Jayden Daniels, last season's starting quarterback, left for LSU. Lead receiver Ricky Pearsall is gone. Top defensive player Eric Gentry is, too. 

Backup rusher DeaMonte Trayanum took off for Ohio State. And three key linemen — Spencer Lovell, Jermayne Lole, and Ezra Dotson-Oyetade — left the program.

In total, Arizona State lost over a dozen players to transfer this offseason also defined by a litany of troubles with the NCAA that could include future sanctions and has already seen a tidal wave of coaching changes on Herm Edwards' staff. Maybe no other college football program has lost so much via the transfer portal this year.

Winner: Alabama

Alabama signed cornerback Eli Ricks, among other blue-chip players, via the college football transfer portal.

Surprise, surprise: the Crimson Tide got everything it wanted and walked away with a treasure trove of elite players. On the polar opposite end of the scale from struggling Arizona State, the defending SEC champions had a very productive offseason.

Everything Nick Saban needed, he got: top receivers in Jermaine Burton (Georgia) and Tyler Harrell (Louisville), a strong power back in Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), an elite corner in Eli Ricks (LSU), and a solid blocking tackle in Tyler Steen (Vanderbilt). What the Tide lacked in quantity during this year's transfer bonanza, it more than made up for in quality, as maybe no other school got its hands on so much pure talent.

Loser: Auburn

bryan harsin auburn (1)

It's been a dramatic offseason on the Plains, to say the least. Not only did Auburn's football boosters apparently launch a coup attempt to try and get coach Bryan Harsin fired, the team lost a ton of starting and reserve talent that it really needed.

Not least among them former starting quarterback Bo Nix, the potentially electric (if also inconsistent) player who followed Dan Lanning to Oregon this offseason. 

Former 4-star quarterback Dematrius Davis is also gone, and lead receiver Kobe Hudson landed at UCF after getting kicked off the team. Defensively, Auburn lost five linemen and edge rusher Romello Height, in addition to safety Ladarius Tennison.

Winner: Ole Miss

Ole Miss was aggressive in the college football transfer portal, signing former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart, among others.

When you lose 11 starters off a ranked team that fielded a top 10 offense, you need a quick turnaround, and that's what "Portal King" Lane Kiffin set himself out to do.

Kiffin's transfer turnover should help preserve some of the gains Ole Miss enjoyed last season, especially after signing former 5-star USC quarterback Jaxson Dart, who chose life in the SEC over Lincoln Riley. Kiffin added a pair of solid backs in former TCU rusher Zach Evans and one-time SMU pledge Ulysses Bentley.

Tight end J.J. Pegues is on board, as is offensive tackle Mason Brooks in addition to a group of excellent defensive additions: safety Ladarius Tennison, edge rusher Jared Ivey, and linebacker Troy Brown.

Loser: Georgia Tech

georgia tech football

Tech lost two offensive pieces in quarterback Jordan Yates, who transferred out, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who left for Alabama. Not ideal for an offense that placed second-worst in the ACC at 24 ppg and severely lacking at the skill positions.

It's hard to overestimate the impact of losing Gibbs. One of head coach Geoff Collins' additions, he was supposed to be the real engine behind this offense. 

A pair of edge rushers in Jared Ivey and Jordan Domineck, two able tacklers behind the line, left for the SEC, too: Ole Miss and Arkansas, respectively.

Losing the kind of players that Georgia Tech has isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the team's current administration, and may not bode well for the current staff as it goes on the road to add to its roster on the recruiting trail.

Winner: Arizona

Arizona is one Pac-12 team that has struggled to maintain its place in the college football rankings recently.

Arizona may be coming off its worst stretch in history, following a winless five-game season during Covid that included a 70-7 loss to the Sun Devils, and a one-win disaster in '21 that included an L against Northern Arizona.

But coming in 2022, there are signs of hope for the Wildcats. They scored some very solid transfers in quarterback Jayden de Laura, wide receiver Jacob Cowing, and defensive tackle Tiaoalii Savea. And coach Jedd Fisch just signed a pretty solid recruiting class, too, including 5-star receiver Tetairoa McMillan, by far the team's best gain.

There's a way to go before Arizona recovers from its 1-11 mark a year ago, but up to now Fisch has made a lot of the right decisions when it comes to building up this roster.

Loser: Colorado

colorado football

Colorado was the second-worst overall defense and pass defense in the Pac-12 last year, and it didn't exactly get better this offseason. 

Star corner Mekhi Blackmon elected to transfer out, as did Christian Gonzalez, to USC and TCU, respectively. Offensively, the Buffaloes lost lead back Jarek Broussard (to Michigan State) and top wide receiver Brenden Rice (to USC). Not ideal for a team that placed second-worst nationally with just under 258 yards per game.

Winner: Nebraska

casey thompson

Scott Frost came into the offseason with a mandate to dramatically improve this roster, and when you look at this offense, he well may have.

Casey Thompson and Chubba Purdy will duke it out for the quarterback job, with the edge going to Thompson, who led the Big 12 in touchdowns last season at Texas. 

Wide receivers Trey Palmer and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda add some long-forgotten speed on the perimeter, and Hunter Anthony brings some vital depth to this offensive line unit.

Nebraska also landed one of the very best players in the transfer portal when former TCU defensive lineman Ochaun Mathis committed.

The lineman earned second-team All Big 12 honors last fall for the Horned Frogs, adding four sacks and seven tackles for loss with three pass breakups, and was second-team All Big 12 in 2020, when he led the conference with nine sacks and placed third with 14 tackles for loss.

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