football Edit

The Rumor Mill: Transfer Tracker

Arik Gilbert
Arik Gilbert (Getty Images)

The transfer portal never stops but is has slowed down in March. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of rumors out there regarding players who are looking for a new home, including Henry To’oto’o, Tyreek Campbell and Arik Gilbert.

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... Let’s start with Gilbert. The former LSU tight end was back in Baton Rouge this weekend to visit with friends and, of course, meet with the coaches. Here’s what I’ve learned. First off, let’s finally put to rest the notion that Gilbert left LSU because he was homesick. That's not true. Gilbert never wanted to leave LSU but off-field issues forced him back home. LSU has always been where he wanted to be and, according to many sources, is his preference now.

Gilbert did indeed commit to Florida because it looked like there would be fewer hurdles to playing in 2021 in Gainesville than anywhere else but that turned out not to be the case. Because of a slew of reasons, and the gaining momentum of the NCAA allowing one transfer per player without consequence except for intra-conference transfers, Gilbert had little chance of playing for Florida next season. In fact, his only path to playing in 2021 appears to be at LSU. But there are many conditions to his return as well as some NCAA hurdles he has to clear.

The bottom line? Gilbert still has a long way to go to get back on the field in 2021 but this trip to Baton Rouge was a step in the right direction.

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West Virginia All-American safety Tykee Smith entered the portal last week and things have exploded since. Penn State and Georgia were immediately considered the front-runners because he is from Pennsylvania, and his former position coach at West Virginia, Jahmile Addae, is now coaching for the Bulldogs. Smith has had Zoom meetings with Penn State, Mississippi State and South Carolina already and is setting one up with Auburn. He wants to enroll somewhere in May for summer conditioning. His former teammate at West Virginia, Dreshun Miller, chose Auburn so there is a connection there.

If I had to guess right now the leaders would be Penn State, Georgia and Auburn but barring a surprise this will go on for a bit. Texas, Florida, Washington, NC State, Notre Dame, Indiana, Georgia Tech, UCF and others have also reached out. Texas is especially interesting because the Longhorns mentioned to Smith that they think the NCAA could pass intra-conference transfer allowance without penalty which is the opposite of what I heard from an SEC source.

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Good luck trying to find out accurate information on what ex-Tennessee linebacker Henry To'oto'o is thinking. He has been a ghost through this transfer process but sources had him heading to Alabama for quite some time now. Then a rumor floated that he was back on campus last week in Knoxville and was set to re-join the team. That hasn’t panned out. I am hearing he will be taking a visit to Ohio State this week and that Alabama has faded because the NCAA continues to drag its feet on intra-conference transfers.

Personally, I think To’oto’o wants this wrapped up soon. If he does in fact visit Columbus and likes it, that could be the end of things

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Michigan wide receiver Giles Jackson is in the portal now and most feel the California native will head back closer to home. Numerous programs have reached out but right now Washington, Cal, Oregon State and Memphis are standing out. He doesn’t care about location as much as he cares about the offense as he wants to be viewed as a true receiver and not a gadget guy. Jackson is also an excellent return man.

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Jackson's former teammate, Xavier Worthy from California, was in the news when he didn’t enroll for spring football and there was some talk of him wanting out of his National Letter of Intent so he could transfer to Texas. As of right now, however, Worthy is still on track to join the Michigan program for summer workouts. Worthy is a class of 2021 signee.

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A couple of recent additions to the portal are getting a lot of attention. Class of 2020 Florida signee Jahari Rogers hails from Texas and, with his size and athleticism, he will be popular. Word has it he wants to be closer to home so Texas Tech and Texas are interesting as both have jumped in early.

West Virginia, UCF, Minnesota, Nebraska and others have also joined. And former 2019 four-star wide receiver Nolan Groulx has entered as well and has seen interest from Nebraska, Texas Tech, Utah and others. So far no word from Wisconsin, the first program he committed to out of high school, but the Badgers may be in play soon.

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Former five-star Antonio Alfano remains quiet about his situation as he is in the portal from Colorado after transferring there from Alabama. I still think Temple makes the most sense here. Many programs aren’t showing interest but another to keep an eye on is UCF and Gus Malzahn.

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Former Kent State offensive lineman Julian Sams is getting some small program interest from Temple, UConn, Texas State and ULM, but also some interest from Florida State and Virginia Tech who both need offensive linemen. He is originally from Virginia so keep an eye on the Hokies.

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Finally, I haven’t heard a word – not a peep – about former Clemson defensive back Derion Kendrick since his arrest a few weeks ago. Programs that had been interested despite his dismissal from Clemson have gone away it seems. And one source told me that he was going to have some academic issues transferring to a different school anyhow but the arrest has scared many off.