football Edit

Three-Point Stance: Rebuilds, Big 12 transfers, coaching moves

Rivals national columnist Mike Farrell is here with a look at the five biggest rebuilds in college football, a breakdown of the top incoming transfers for each Big 12 program and a rundown of some rare February hires.


FACT OR FICTION: Dameon Pierce was underutilized by Florida

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State | JUCO

CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

TRANSFER PORTAL: Stories/coverage | Message board

RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series




Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly (USA Today Sports Images)

Rebuilding in college football is never easy. This isn’t about Alabama or Ohio State who seemingly reload each year and compete for the playoff. And this isn’t about Nebraska or Miami who have been trying to recapture old glory for decades. Here are the five high-profile programs that are facing the biggest rebuilding jobs entering the 2022 season:

LSU: The Ed Orgeron experiment was an absolute rollercoaster and, after firing the Louisiana native in the middle of the season, the Tigers made a splashy hire in Brian Kelly. The former Notre Dame coach isn't necessarily a traditional culture fit in Baton Rouge, but he's been cleaning up in the transfer portal and managed to hold on to a top-15 national recruiting class. There will always be plenty of talent on the Tigers' roster, but after massively underperforming for the past two seasons Kelly has his work cut out for him and needs to break in many new players including a brand new quarterback.

Oklahoma: After Lincoln Riley made the jump to USC, the Sooners turned to former defensive coordinator Brent Venables to right the ship. But during the transition they lost a lot of their top players from last year's team, including their top two quarterbacks in Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler. Venables has done a nice job of rounding out his staff, but there's not going to be as much firepower in the offense this season so he's got to turn what has been a mediocre defense into a top-flight group if they're going to continue to sit atop the Big 12. Starting with Dillon Gabriel at quarterback, this will be a different looking team.

Florida: The Gators fell off a cliff in 2021, losing their last four SEC games as well as their bowl game to UCF. They've brought in Billy Napier to clean up the mess - something he did very well at his last stop at Louisiana. But he is going to need to clean up a defense that finished in the bottom half of the SEC in nearly every statistical category. The Gators also finished with a bottom-five class in the SEC in the 2022 recruiting class, so don't expect a huge influx of talent in year one.

USC: After the Trojans finally fired Clay Helton after seemingly five years in limbo and hired Riley away from Oklahoma they can now move forward. Riley has been hitting the portal hard, bringing in a lot of big-name players including former Sooners Caleb Williams and Mario Williams. But they've got holes to fill across the board and can’t afford injuries as quarterbacks Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart have transferred and All-American WR Drake London is off to the NFL.

Wisconsin: The only team on this list to not go through a coaching change, this is still a rebuild for the Badgers. Why? Because after two down seasons by their standards and losing eight of 11 starters from the top statistical defense in the country from last season, including the entire secondary, there's a lot of work to do in Madison. On top of that, the Badgers are losing 68 percent of their receiving production from 2021, including the top three pass catchers from the team. They've brought in a new coordinator from the pro level in Bobby Engram, who could potentially bring in some new concepts and schemes, but there's a lot of work left to do if they're going to go back to being the dominant power in the Big Ten West.



Lyn-J Dixon
Lyn-J Dixon (USA Today Sports Images)

I continue my look at the best transfers in Power Five with the tops on each Big 12 team.

Baylor: Jaxon Player (DT, Tulsa) - The Bears were the surprise winners of the Big 12 last season and have restocked at defensive tackle. Player will be an immediate impact player on the defensive line and has all-conference upside.

Iowa State: Colby Reeder (LB, Delaware) - Iowa State is losing a lot of players off of a defense that has been very strong the past two seasons, and they've brought in Reeder who is a tackling machine from FCS Delaware. He'll fit right in with the Cyclones.

Kansas: Ky Thomas (RB, Minnesota) - Thomas was pressed into action last year after a litany of injuries to other Gopher running backs and acquitted himself quite well. We saw what coach Lance Leipold can do with a strong back (remember Jaret Patterson?), so he should be a great fit for the Jayhawks.

Kansas State: Branden Jennings (LB, Maryland) - Jennings was the crown jewel of the Terrapins' 2021 recruiting class, but after only one season in College Park he's heading to the Little Apple where he'll have a chance to star for the Wildcats. A super-athletic linebacker, he has a chance to be a day one starter.

Oklahoma: Dillon Gabriel (QB, UCF) - With the departures of both Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler, the Sooners were desperate for a quarterback. Enter Gabriel, who put up some huge numbers at UCF before injuries derailed his career. Both he and new coach Brent Venables are hoping he can recapture the magic.

Oklahoma State: N/A - The Cowboys have been oddly quiet in the portal. They've got some holes to fill, especially in the back seven of the defense that they may look to address as the spring moves on.

TCU: Trelon Smith (RB, Arkansas) - With Zach Evans gone, there was a big hole at running back and Trelon Smith looks to step in to fill those shoes. Smith amassed over 1,300 yards on the ground over the past two seasons in Fayetteville and looks to be the lead back for the Horned Frogs next season.

Texas: Quinn Ewers (QB, Ohio State) - One of the most notable additions for any team in the country, Ewers was as hyped as any quarterback in recent memory before he reclassified to the 2021 class and spent a semester at Ohio State. He's back in his home state of Texas now and should be the starter for the Longhorns. He'll be facing expectations that are through the roof.

Texas Tech: Tyler Owens (S, Texas) - Joey McGuire has a big rebuild on his hands, and it all starts with the defense, which finished 119th against the pass last season. Owens was a Rivals100 member in the 2019 class and will bring a veteran presence and some much-needed athleticism on the back end for the Red Raiders.

West Virginia: Lyn-J Dixon (RB, Clemson) - With Leddie Brown off to the to NFL draft, the Mountaineers are in need of a new lead back, and Dixon should fit the bill. The former backup to Travis Etienne at Clemson, he elected to enter the portal midseason after losing carries to Will Shipley. He's got plenty of talent though, and is a solid downhill runner.



Kevin Steele
Kevin Steele (USA Today Sports Images)

Finally it’s rare in February for major coaching changes to occur but that’s exactly what we have going on in some places. Here are some big names in new and prominent roles.

OC Josh Gattis, Miami — The Broyles Award winner as the best assistant in college football last season is a huge get for Mario Cristobal in Miami and his patience in hiring the position paid off. Gattis led a surprising Michigan offense to the playoff last season.

DC Kevin Steele, Miami — Steele has been around the block quite a bit as a head coach and coordinator and brings a ton of experience to the position for Cristobal in Miami as well as recruiting ties in the Southeast.

DB coach Jahmile Addae, Miami — Yet another great Cristobal hire, he stole Addae away from Georgia where he did an excellent job with the title winners last season.

OC Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss, Michigan — To replace Gattis, Jim Harbaugh goes with a two-headed monster in Moore and Weiss who have both had success. Weiss comes from the NFL and worked with his brother while Moore has been under Harbaugh and was a key to the strong running game last season.

DC Jesse Minter, Michigan — Harbaugh lands Minter from Vanderbilt but, again, there is a connection to his brother John as Minter coached with the Baltimore Ravens as well.

TE coach Jody Wright, South Carolina — Wright worked for the New York Giants the last two years and also has Alabama experience under Nick Saban.

WR coach Tiquan Underwood, Pitt — Underwood has NFL player experience and worked the last couple of years under Greg Schiano at Rutgers and will have a hand in the passing design.

OL coach Zach Yenser, Kentucky — Yenser worked in the NFL this past season for the San Francisco 49ers and has had stops at Kansas, Cal, SMU and other colleges as a Sonny Dykes guy.

OL coach Eric Wolford , Alabama — After one very good year at Kentucky he moves to the next level now under Nick Saban.

DB coach Travaris Robinson, Alabama — T-Rob is a great hire and well known for his ability to recruit at Auburn, South Carolina and other places.