Three-Point Stance: SEC transfers, teams trending down, key Pac-12 players
Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with a ranking of the SEC transfer classes, a look at Power Five programs that could be trending down and a breakdown of offensive players that need to step up in the Pac-12.
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1. RANKING SEC TRANSFER CLASSES
Here is my ranking of the incoming transfer classes for each SEC program.
1. Ole Miss
Total additions: 12
Headliners: Jaxson Dart (USC), Jared Ivey (Georgia Tech), Zach Evans (TCU), Michael Trigg (USC), JJ Pegues (Auburn), Mason Brooks (Western Kentucky)
Lane Kiffin has dubbed himself the king of the transfer portal, and it's not hard to see why. Dart was one of the top quarterbacks available and he's a perfect fit in Kiffin's system. Evans is a former five-star who could push for first-team All-SEC honors next year. Pegues and Trigg are a pair of really high level tight ends, while Brown and Ivey are going to wreak havoc on opposing offenses with their athleticism. And don't sleep on Brooks, who was great at offensive tackle in Western Kentucky's Air Raid offense last year, and should transition seamlessly.
Total additions: 12
Headliners: Mekhi Wingo (Missouri), Jarrick Bernard (Oklahoma State), Joe Foucha (Arkansas), Noah Cain (Penn State), Greg Brooks Jr. (Arkansas)
A huge transfer class for first-year coach Brian Kelly, headlined by Wingo, who was one of the best players in the portal regardless of position. Bernard was outstanding for Oklahoma State last season at corner, and Brooks and Foucha another pair of solid defensive backs. This is a huge class that could pay quick dividends for the Bayou Bengals.
Total additions: 7
Headliners: Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma), Austin Stogner (Oklahoma), Devonni Reed (Central Michigan), Antwane Wells (James Madison)
Rattler is obviously the big name here, but he brought along Stogner who's a very reliable H-back/tight end. Reed will be an immediate contributor at safety, as he was one of the best in the MAC last season. Wells brings intriguing size and speed at the receiver position.
Total additions: 3
Headliners: Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), Eli Ricks (LSU), Jermaine Burton (Georgia)
The Tide have only added three players, but they will all be instant impact additions. Gibbs has a chance to be the next great back for the Tide, Ricks was phenomenal for LSU in 2020 and Burton is a well-above-average receiver.
Total additions: 6
Headliners: O'Cyrus Torrence (Louisiana), Jalen Kimber (Georgia), Jack Miller (Ohio State)
New coach Billy Napier raided his old Louisiana squad for three really good players, most notably Torrence, who has all the makings of an All-American guard. Miller is an interesting fit at quarterback, as he brings a completely different skillset than holdovers Anthony Richardson and Emory Jones.
Total additions: 6
Headliners: Latavious Brini (Georgia), Dwight McGlothern (LSU), Drew Sanders (Alabama), Landon Jackson (LSU), Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma)
A really nice portal class for the Hogs, highlighted by Haselwood who has as much upside as any receiver in the game. But they did their best work on the defensive side of the ball, with Brini, McGlothern, Sanders and Jackson all being potential starters.
Total additions: 9
Headliners: Ty'Ron Hopper (Florida), Ian Matthews (Auburn), Tyler Stephens (Buffalo), Bence Polgar (Buffalo), Tyrone Hopper (North Carolina), Jayden Jernigan (Oklahoma State)
A lot of additions for Mizzou in this cycle, especially on the defensive side of the ball where Hopper is the biggest addition at linebacker. Jernigan and Matthews will try to fill in the void left by Mekhi Wingo on the defensive line, and Norwood is an intriguing option outside at cornerback. The two additions from Buffalo - Polgar and Stephens - will both have an opportunity to start as well on the offensive side of the ball.
Total additions: 5
Headliners: Tayvion Robinson (Virginia Tech), Javon Baker (Alabama), Darrion Henry-Young (Ohio State), Tashawn Manning (Auburn)
Robinson is the headliner to this class, and he'll look to replace Wan'Dale Robinson who was electric for the Wildcats last season but don't sleep on Javon Baker either on the outside. Defensive linemen Henry-Young and Manning will be rotation pieces next season.
Total additions: 6
Headliners: Marcus Banks (Alabama), Justin Robinson (Georgia), Steven Losoya (Middle Tennessee), Jordan Moseley (Northwestern), Jackie Matthews (West Virginia)
Robinson and Mosley decided to come to wide receiver paradise, where they'll both get plenty of opportunities to rack up the catches in Mike Leach's Air Raid system. Matthews and Banks are solid additions at corner, one of the positions they are most in need of on the defensive side of the ball.
Total additions: 4
Headliners: Gerald Mincey (Florida), Jackson Hannah (Nebraska), Charlie Browder (UCF)
Mincey is the big name here, as he should push for a starting spot on the offensive line sooner rather than later. Hannah is a thumper at middle linebacker while Browder has upside at tight end. A bit of a surprise that this class wasn't bigger considering all the guys they've lost in the past two years.
Total additions: 4
Headliners: Zach Calzada (Texas A&M), Robby Ashford (Oregon)
The Tigers were in need of a quarterback after Bo Nix transferred out and some up-and-down play from TJ Finley, so they went out and got two guys who could push for the starting position in Calzada and Ashford. But it's going to be hard to replace the talent that is departing - they've got 20 players who have entered the portal this cycle.
12. Texas A&M
Total additions: 1
Headliners: Max Johnson (LSU)
Only one addition for the Aggies, but it's at the most important position. Johnson should start the year in College Station as QB1, and brings a much higher floor and ceiling than what they had last year.
Total additions: 3
Headliners: Kane Patterson (Clemson), Jeremy Lucien (Connecticut)
Not a ton here for the 'Dores, but Patterson should be an immediate starter at linebacker. Lucien is an upgrade at the corner position as well.
Total additions: 0
After winning the national title, the Dawgs have somewhat surprisingly not gotten any incoming transfers after losing eight players to the portal. To be fair, they don't have a ton of holes, and a lot of the guys who departed were depth pieces.
2. PROGRAMS IN DANGER OF TAKING A STEP BACK
One team got me thinking of this category and that was North Carolina and Mack Brown. While I love Brown as a coach and what he’s done for the game, the setback last year for the Heels was scary as we all know he’s on the back nine of his coaching career. Is North Carolina in danger of taking a huge step back? Yep. And so are the rest of these teams if they aren’t careful.
SEC: Auburn - This obvious choice here, especially as LSU has already hit it’s rock bottom so to speak. We all know about the turmoil happening around the Auburn program and Bryan Harsin seems in way over his head. Between the mass exodus of players and coaches and the issues surrounding the team's culture, it's a recipe for disaster. Don't be surprised if the administration is looking for a new head coach within the next nine months and this hire could set them back five years or more.
Big Ten: Penn State - No one is questioning James Franklin's prowess as a recruiter, but we haven't seen it translate on the field recently. The Nittany Lions are .500 over the last two seasons and have a losing conference record in that timespan. Add in that they're losing their three best players from last year's squad (Rasheed Walker, Jahan Dotson, and Arnold Ebiketie) to the draft and you have to worry a bit. Meanwhile Ohio State continues to be the standard of excellence in the conference, Michigan proved it can win the big one and Michigan State has vaulted over Penn State under Mel Tucker. Penn State could either surprise everyone this season with Sean Clifford and company or head far backwards.
ACC: North Carolina - There's been a serious talent drain in Chapel Hill, especially on the offensive side of the ball where the Tar Heels have lost basically all of their major contributors (save for WR Josh Downs) from their big 2020 season after Sam Howell declared for the draft. The bigger question though is how much longer does Mack Brown want to stick around and try to rebuild the program yet again? He's already 70-years-old, his legacy is set and does he really want to invest the amount of time it's going to take to make the Tar Heels truly competitive again?
Big 12: TCU - You could make a strong argument here for Iowa State as well, considering how much talent it is losing, but TCU is still my pick. Yes, the Horned Frogs have been in decline for the past couple of seasons but I really think they could bottom out this year. Sonny Dykes was a questionable hire at best and they've lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, most notably Zach Evans. The last few seasons of the Gary Patterson era were definitely not vintage years but with all of these factors, I expect this team to fall even further over the next couple of years.
Pac 12: Arizona State - Similar to Auburn, there have been a lot of issues going on behind the scenes in Tempe. But Herm Edwards has managed to keep the ship afloat so far. However, losing both Jayden Daniels and DeaMonte Traynanum to the portal is a massive blow for the offense and there aren't necessarily the guys in place behind them to pick up the pieces and compete in the Pac-12 South. With Utah's continued success, UCLA's resurgence, and the arrival of Lincoln Riley and his cadre of Oklahoma players at USC, things could get ugly for the Sun Devils.
3. KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS IN THE PAC-12 FOR 2022
I continue my look at the key offensive player that need to step up for each Power Five program, focusing today on the Pac-12.
Arizona: WR Ma’Jon Wright — He’s back after missing last season and he needs to become WR1 in an offense that needs a ton of help. Everyone needs to step up but Wright can make things easier on his quarterbacks.
Arizona State: RB Daniyel Ngata — Rachaad White is gone as is Deomante Trayanum so Ngata has no choice but to step up although there is help coming. But he has the most experience.
Cal: WR Jeremiah Hunter — Cal loses Chase Garbers at QB who has been there forever so look for Hunter to be the WR1 the new quarterback targets the most. Hunter is big and physical and averaged nearly 20 yards a catch last season.
Colorado: WR Chase Penry — Colorado has major quarterback questions and Penry making a big leap forward could help ease some of those concerns. He had only eight catches last season but showed a ton of promise and has good size.
Oregon: RB Seven McGee — With Travis Dye headed to USC and CJ Verdell off to the NFL there are no bigger questions on offense than at running back. The good news? The offensive line will be a strength and McGee can be used in many ways and has explosive home run potential.
Oregon State: RB DeShaun Fenwick — With BJ Baylor gone it will be running back by committee most likely but Fenwick has the most returning yards and experience of the players on the roster last season.
Stanford: RB E.J. Smith — Emmitt Smith’s son has a chance to step into a RB1 role here and show why he was so heavily recruited as Stanford lost a ton to the portal.
UCLA: TE Michael Ezeike — Greg Dulcich is gone and with him some explosive plays so Ezeike has to step in and step up in a huge way for this passing offense.
USC: WR Gary Bryant Jr. — Why didn’t I pick a running back as USC has a ton of wide receiver depth? Because Bryant Jr. legitimately has a chance to be an absolute star in the offense and on special teams under Lincoln Riley.
Utah: RB Micah Bernard — Bernard was so impressive last season in all aspects that I feel his role will increase even if he’s still overshadowed a bit in the offensive backfield.
Washington: TE Devin Culp — The Huskies have been good at tight end in recent years with players like Hunter Bryant and Cade Otton but there are big question marks now and Culp is untested a bit. He needs to show he can be consistent and be more than just flashes of ability.
Washington State: OT Jarrett Kingston — WSU loses a ton of offensive line experience and it appears Kingston will move to tackle and possibly protect the blind side of new transfer quarterback Cameron Ward.