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Where five-star players in the transfer portal might land

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Jaelan Phillips
Jaelan Phillips (AP Images)

The new transfer rules in college football have led to an unprecedented amount of player movement so far this offseason, and it’s likely to continue after depth charts shake out in spring practice.

The advent of the “transfer portal” has also ramped up the amount of media coverage surrounding potential transfers, with fans much more aware of who is available and who might land at their school. Among the names that have entered the portal and yet to make a decision are five former five-star players.

Today, we break them down and speculate about where they might fit best as they evaluate their options and make a decision to transfer or stay put at their current programs.

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*****

As a recruit: Phillips collected his share of national offers, but kept a relatively low profile, committing to UCLA over Stanford, USC, Notre Dame and Washington during the spring of his junior year. Despite the best efforts of other programs to get him to revisit his options, Phillips never wavered on his pledge to the Bruins.

At UCLA: Phillips made an immediate impact with the Bruins as a true freshman in 2017, recording 21 total tackles, including seven for loss, in his first six games. But an injury cut his freshman season short, and the same would happen again in 2018, as Phillips played in only four games and finished with 20 total tackles. UCLA announced he had taken a medical retirement during the fall, but Phillips is now taking recruiting visits, with a trip to Miami up first. He will have to sit out the 2019 season unless he’s given an NCAA waiver, but either way he will have two years of eligibility at his new school.

Potential landing spots: USC, Miami, Arizona State

Farrell’s take: Phillips was an athletic freak coming out of high school who could play standing up or with his hand on the ground and cover a ton of ground. He’s one of the best jumbo athletes I’ve seen in the last few cycles and, if he can stay healthy he could be a monster for someone. I was bummed when he took medical retirement, so I’m happy he’s back out there trying to continue his career. He was in the discussion for our No. 1 player overall in 2017.

*****

Drew Richmond
Drew Richmond (AP Images)

As a recruit: Richmond saw offers pour in from all over the country during his recruitment and he initially committed to Ole Miss prior to his senior year. But a late push from Tennessee got the Vols back into the picture and he eventually flipped to the in-state school on signing day in 2015.

At Tennessee: After redshirting his first season at Tennessee, Richmond stepped into the lineup at left tackle in 2016 and saw his share of ups and downs while playing nearly 500 snaps for the nine-win Vols. He continued to show improvement in 2017, playing another 400-plus snaps at left tackle before missing the final few games of the season with an injury. Richmond moved to right tackle in 2018 and graded out as the Vols' best pass-blocking offensive lineman on the season, according to Pro Football Focus, but he struggled with penalties and as a run blocker. Richmond is set to graduate in May and still could return to the Vols, but he has quickly become a coveted recruit once again and is likely to depart for his final year of eligibility.

Potential landing spots: Auburn, Texas, Oklahoma, Memphis, Alabama

Farrell’s take: Richmond had great size and excellent feet but he never found his way at Tennessee, a program under Butch Jones that didn’t develop a lot of former five-stars. His size and athletic ability have a lot of schools interested, and I still believe he can turn around and become a consistent run blocker to go along with his pass-blocking prowess.

*****

Lamont Wade
Lamont Wade (AP Images)

As a recruit: One of the best prospects to come out of Pennsylvania in recent years, it’s not a surprise that Wade was an immediate priority for Penn State. After taking a look at schools such as West Virginia, Tennessee and a few others, Wade made his pledge to the Nittany Lions official in December of 2016 and enrolled early the next month.

At Penn State: Wade saw the field early and often for Penn State, playing in all 12 games and recording 31 tackles on his way to making the all-Big Ten Freshman Team. Many expected him to get even better in 2018, but instead he fell down the depth chart and finished the season with just 18 total tackles while playing mostly as a reserve. Wade will have to sit out the 2019 season unless he’s given an NCAA waiver, but either way he will have two years of eligibility at his new school.

Potential landing spots: Pittsburgh, Maryland, West Virginia

Farrell’s take: Wade was an undersized corner, but played bigger than his size at the high school level and was all over the field. He was physical, an excellent tackler and had a knack for making big plays. I’m surprised he didn’t take the next step this past season, but I think he can be a major contributor at his next stop and make some big plays.

*****

Keandre Jones
Keandre Jones (AP Images)

As a recruit: A Maryland native who played at powerhouse Good Counsel, Jones made an early commitment to the Terrapins and seemed likely to stay close to home. But as his senior year season moved along interest from some of the nation’s top programs caused him to rethink his options. After a January official visit to Ohio State he flipped to the Buckeyes, along with close friend Dwayne Haskins.

At Ohio State: Jones has struggled to see the field at Ohio State, playing sparingly each of the past three seasons and recording just 29 total tackles and one sack. With Haskins moving on to the NFL, Jones entered his name into the portal and should have one year of eligibility remaining at his next program.

Potential landing spots: Maryland, Rutgers, Temple, Miami

Farrell’s take: Jones was still waiting his turn in the Ohio State defense, so it’s time to move on. He has yet to make an impact anywhere close to that of a five-star player and needs a fresh start. He had size, length and was a tackling machine out of high school, but that has yet to translate at all to the college game. He has potential, but it’s hard to see him becoming a star at this point.

*****

George Campbell
George Campbell (AP Images)

As a recruit: Campbell raked in offers from all over the country and made an early commitment to Michigan despite most expecting him to follow his friend and high school teammate Artavis Scott to Clemson. But with coaching uncertainty in Ann Arbor at the time, Campbell elected to go his own way and committed to Florida State at the beginning of his senior season. He only officially visited the 'Noles and never really wavered on his commitment after announcing his decision.

At Florida State: The story of Campbell’s career at Florida State has been injuries, as various ailments have seemed to strike him every time he appears to be turning the corner. He caught three passes for 42 yards as a true freshman in 2015 and then missed all of 2016 with an injury. In 2017, he showed flashes in the ‘Noles first four games, only to once again be knocked out for the year with an injury. He finished with six catches for 122 yards. In 2018, he saw plenty of action, but only had four catches for 42 yards. As a graduate transfer, Campbell will be eligible to play his final season at his new school in 2019.

Potential landing spots: USF, Michigan

Farrell’s take: I’ll take the blame on this one, as I made the final decision to push Campbell to five-star status after the Under Armour week. That was clearly a poor decision. He just never emerged, whether you want to blame injuries, his hands or his desire. Whatever the reason, Campbell has bust written all over him and I don’t see him making an impact in one more year at another school.