Oregon’s Vernon Adams showed last year the difference a graduate transfer can make for his new team.
Adams, a Championship Subdivision star at Eastern Washington, transferred to Oregon for his final year of eligibility and played exceptionally when he wasn’t dealing with injuries. Adams threw for 2,643 yards and 26 touchdowns with only six interceptions to lead all Bowl Subdivision performers in passing efficiency.
Adams has completed his eligibility and won’t be back this season, but plenty of graduates across the country are attempting to make the same kind of impact he produced a year ago.
The controversy surrounding defensive back Maurice Smith’s move within the Southeastern Conference exemplifies how much attention these types of moves are getting. Smith has graduated from Alabama and moved on to Georgia, but Alabama initially blocked the move before the school and SEC officials eventually granted his release.
Here are some notable graduate transfers for the 2016 season (coincidentally, the list includes someone attempting to replace Adams at Oregon):
— Alabama wide receiver Gehrig Dieter (Bowling Green). Dieter caught 94 passes for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for Bowling Green. Dieter showed he could produce against Southeastern Conference competition by catching seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown in a season-opening loss to Tennessee. The presence of Dieter and returning receivers Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart plus tight end O.J. Howard should provide plenty of capable targets Alabama’s starting quarterback. This is Dieter’s third school. He began his college career at SMU before transferring to Bowling Green.
— Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight (Oklahoma). Knight was billed as a rising star after capping his 2013 season by leading Oklahoma to a Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama, but he struggled with consistency in 2014 and lost his starting job last year in a preseason competition with Baker Mayfield, who went on to lead the Sooners to a playoff berth. Knight gets a chance to revive his career at Texas A&M, which needed a quarterback following the offseason departures of Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray.
— Auburn linebacker T.J. Neal (Illinois) and Illinois linebacker Hardy Nickerson (California). Neal started 25 games for Illinois the last two seasons and followed up a 98-tackle campaign in 2014 by making 109 stops (14 behind the line of scrimmage) last year. Nickerson, the son of former NFL linebacker Hardy Nickerson, was a three-year starter at Cal who had a team-high 112 tackles last season. Nickerson’s dad is Illinois’ defensive coordinator.
— Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop (Montana State), One year after Vernon Adams made a successful move from Eastern Washington to Oregon, the Ducks are seeing whether another former Championship Subdivision quarterback can make a similar transition. Prukop had 5,584 yards passing and 1,763 yards rushing in his career at Montana State. He threw for 46 touchdowns and ran for 24 more scores. Prukop arrived at Oregon in time to play in the spring game, where he went 20 of 29 for 190 yards with two touchdown passes of over 30 yards. Prukop is competing with redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen for the starting spot.
— Michigan State defensive end Gabe Sherrod (Delaware State). Sherrod had 25 tackles for loss last season, and his 2.3 tackles for loss per game ranked second among all FCS players. Sherrod, a former wide receiver, also had eight sacks and blocked four kicks a year ago. He will use his final season of eligibility at Michigan State, which must replace three-time all-Big Ten selection Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas at defensive end.
— California quarterback Davis Webb (Texas Tech). Webb threw for 5,557 yards, 46 touchdowns and 22 interceptions the last three years at Texas Tech. Webb started six games and threw for 2,718 yards while leading Texas Tech to an 8-5 record his freshman year. But he then struggled with an ankle injury and eventually lost his starting job to Patrick Mahomes. Webb already has been named the starting quarterback and has the difficult task of replacing Jared Goff, selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Online: AP College Football: http://collegefootball.ap.org