Most of the attention surrounding transfers this offseason justifiably has focused on the high-profile quarterbacks who have switched schools.
Two former College Football Playoff starting quarterbacks are at new places. Jalen Hurts, the 2016 Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year, has moved from Alabama to Oklahoma. Kelly Bryant has left Clemson for Missouri.
And the last two Heisman Trophy winners were quarterback transfers, with Oklahoma landing 2017 winner Baker Mayfield from Texas Tech and 2018 recipient Kyler Murray from Texas A&M.
But the first college football season since the arrival of the transfer portal also will feature plenty of impact performers at other positions — even though players and coaches are still adapting to the new system.
Athletes no longer have to seek permission from their current school to be contacted by other programs when they decide to transfer. They only have to notify their schools of intent to transfer and have their names placed in an NCAA portal.
Players in the portal can be recruited by any school. Entering the portal doesn’t force a player to transfer, as he simply can remove his name from it and stay at his current school. Even under the new system, transfers who haven’t graduated still must sit out a season unless the NCAA grants them a waiver allowing them to play for their new teams immediately.
“I think there’s a lot of a learning curve that goes on and will continue to be a lot of learning curve for both players, coaches and administrations within the transfer portal for the next couple of years until everybody adapts to it,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “There’s going to be a new norm in college football. It’s going to be very different than it’s been.”
Mullen’s team added a potential impact performer to its defense by landing pass rusher Jonathan Greenard from Louisville. Here’s a look at Greenard and some of the non-quarterback transfers who bear watching this season. Their former schools are included in parentheses.
TEXAS OG PARKER BRAUN (Georgia Tech)
Notes: Braun is from Hallsville, Texas, but he began his college career at Georgia Tech and made 32 starts for the Yellow Jackets over the last three seasons. Braun earned first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors last year after being a second-team all-ACC selection in 2017. Braun’s a graduate transfer who should step immediately into a starting role at Texas.
GEORGIA WR LAWRENCE CAGER (Miami) and MIAMI WR K.J. OSBORN (Buffalo)
Notes: We’re including these two graduate transfers as a package item because one could be filling a void created by the other’s departure. Cager left Miami after catching 21 passes for 374 yards and six touchdowns. Georgia has lost its top five receivers from last year, so Cager will have plenty of opportunity to make an impact. Osborn caught 53 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns for Buffalo last season and may be the best of Miami’s numerous transfers. Other transfers on the Hurricanes’ roster include quarterback Tate Martell (Ohio State), safety Bubba Bolden (Southern California) and defensive end Trevon Hill (Virginia Tech).
KANSAS STATE RBs JAMES GILBERT (Ball State) and HARRY TROTTER (Louisville)
Notes: One of the major offseason tasks facing new Kansas State coach Chris Klieman was finding a running back to replace Alex Barnes, who rushed for 1,355 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. Klieman found a solid candidate in Gilbert, a graduate transfer who ran for 2,806 yards and 30 touchdowns in 38 games at Ball State. Gilbert ran for 1,332 yards to earn first-team all-Mid American Conference honors in 2016, but played just three games due to injury in 2017 before running for a team-high 659 yards last season. Another possibility is Trotter, who had just four carries for Louisville in 2017 before sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
FLORIDA LB JONATHAN GREENARD (Louisville)
Notes: Greenard collected 15 ½ tackles for loss and seven sacks for Louisville in 2017 before breaking his wrist in the 2018 season opener and sitting out the rest of the year. Greenard headed to Florida as a graduate transfer and should step right into a pass-rushing role for a defense that must replace New York Jets third-round draft pick Jachai Polite, who led the Gators in tackles for loss (17 ½) and sacks (11) last season.
OHIO STATE OG JONAH JACKSON (Rutgers)
Notes: Jackson’s a versatile and experienced lineman who started five games at center in 2017 and made 11 starts at right guard for Rutgers last season. Big Ten coaches and media made him an honorable mention all-conference pick last year. The graduate transfer should step right into a featured role on an Ohio State offensive line that lists left tackle Thayer Munford as its only returning starter.
OREGON WR JUWAN JOHNSON (Penn State)
Notes: Johnson caught 25 passes for 352 yards and one touchdown last season but was more productive in 2017, when he had 54 receptions for 701 yards. He graduated in December and now heads to Oregon, where he could have a big season catching passes from potential first-round draft pick Justin Herbert. Johnson participated in Oregon’s spring practice and caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.
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