Ranking college football's most impactful transfers in 2024

These college football players best used the transfer portal in 2024 and will have the most impact on their teams this coming season.
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The transfer portal has forever changed the way college football teams create and re-create their rosters every offseason, the 2024 cycles have proven no different. With major contributors coming on the market, marquee national title contenders got in on the action to recruit them to their side.

While some programs made up for losses by signing quantity, especially at schools like Colorado, others took the quality route, and brought in players who should be immediate contributors who can propel their teams into contention for the expanded College Football Playoff.

Here are the 10 transfer portal players who will make that impact right away this season.

Ranking College Football's Most Impactful Transfers in 2024

10. Nic Scourton, Texas A&M

Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Transfer losses were expected given the Aggies' coaching turnover, and while Mike Elko inherits enough of this defense from Jimbo Fisher, the addition of Scourton, the Big Ten's sack leader from a year ago, was hugely important. He led that league with 10 takedowns and 15 tackles for loss.

9. Kadyn Proctor, Alabama

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Proctor started every game at left tackle for the Crimson Tide a year ago and was a highlight on a unit that otherwise didn't play up to its potential. The former five-star transferred to Iowa after Nick Saban's retirement, but came back, calling that first move the worst decision of his life. His return bodes very well in Bama's effort to protect Jalen Milroe in a transition year moving on from the GOAT.

8. Damien Martinez, Miami

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Henry Parrish's departure put Miami very much in the market for a game-changing running back and the school responded with a coup by signing the ex-Oregon State rusher. Last season, the former three-star prospect from Texas scored nine times while covering 1,185 yards on the ground and averaging 98.8 yards per game.

7. Princely Umanmielen, Ole Miss

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Florida's major loss is the Rebels' huge gain after Umanmielen emerged as a consistent pass-rushing threat off the edge. He had career-bests with 17 quarterback hurries, 11.5 sacks, and seven sacks a year ago. Winning in the SEC means dominating on the line defensively, and Ole Miss certainly got better in that category. And he wasn't the only transfer the Rebs got...

6. Walter Nolen, Ole Miss

Dustin Safranek-USA TODAY Sports

... Nolen was the other monster transfer acquisition made by "Portal King" Lane Kiffin. The former five-star recruit has proved a disruptive force against opposing blockers at the line with the versatility to shut down running lanes on the inside. That was a huge weakness of the Rebels' defense a year ago, especially in their two losses.

5. Cam Ward, Miami

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Ward has 72 career touchdown passes and 16 additional scores rushing, although he was more inconsistent at Washington State the last two years than he was at Incarnate Word. The quarterback thought about entering the draft, but changed his mind and stayed at school, giving Miami the piece it needed at the most important position to potentially lead the ACC in passing this fall.

4. Evan Stewart, Oregon

Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

Oregon already had arguably college football's best wide receiver rotation, but the addition of Stewart, one of the five-stars in Texas A&M's historic 2022 recruiting class, makes it that much better. Stewart should find plenty of angles on the perimeter against Big Ten defenders with major third down and yards after catch potential.

3. Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State

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Despite returning lead rusher TreVeyon Henderson in the backfield, the Buckeyes couldn't turn down the reigning two-time SEC rushing champ. Judkins ran for 1,158 yards last season at Ole Miss, and stacked up 1,567 yards the year prior as a true freshman. Judkins and Henderson should emerge as college football's top 1-2 punch at tailback in 2024.

2. Dillon Gabriel, Oregon

Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

Gabriel ranks fourth in college football history with 152 all-purpose touchdowns and is 8th in both yards (14,865) and touchdown passes (125). He posted 30 TDs and 6 INTs a year ago at Oklahoma while covering over 3,600 yards, leading the Big 12 in passing, total offense, points per game, and completion mark. Gabriel can terrorize Big Ten defenses this fall working with the nation's premier receiving corps.

1. Caleb Downs, Ohio State

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

Downs was an All-America selection as a true freshman at Alabama, emerging as one of the nation's premier safeties, recording a team-high 107 stops with 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. His addition to the Buckeyes' secondary makes this unit one of college football's best.

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James Parks

JAMES PARKS

James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.