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Over the last year in college football, the landscape has altered to a new terrain which hasn’t been seen before. Teams are abandoning rivalries and traditions, swapping leagues at the drop of a hat. Also, players are using the transfer portal as a trampoline to bounce them from one school to another.
With this piece I’ll focus on some of those players who are beneficiaries of the ever so loose transfer portal. Some players are already proven and just wanted a change of scenery. Others need a new scheme that plays to their strengths in order to showcase they have what it takes to make the NFL.
Quarterback JT Daniels – Transferred from Georgia to West Virginia
JT Daniels is a proven journeyman who just can’t seem to stay healthy, and he definitely knows it. Recently in and interview with the AP, he discussed the high number of games he missed over the last three seasons, which unfortunately ruined his time at USC prior to Georgia. If not for the injury last season, he could possibly be in the NFL, having led the Georgia Bulldogs to a National Championship.
However, his college football story hasn’t gone as scripted, and still having plenty to prove, he’s now onto his third school with West Virginia. Other quarterbacks have made their names here as transfers, most notably Will Grier, and Daniels is better than all of them. In going from an under center ground and pound offense to an air raid style, he’ll be able to showcase a multitude of throws that will remind scouts why he was the #2 quarterback out of the 2018 class.
Quarterback Spencer Rattler – Transferred from Oklahoma to South Carolina
No player was talked about more in the 2021 preseason than Spencer Rattler, and deservedly so. He was coming off a solid 2020 with a 4:1 TD to interception ratio, and was labeled the Heisman front runner. Quickly though the coaching staff and fanbase turned on him, in favor of freshman quarterback Caleb Williams.
After watching Rattler’s QB1 story on Netflix, I really couldn’t stand him and his cocky attitude. I do believe though his Oklahoma experience was very humbling with how the floor just dropped from beneath him, forcing him to swallow his pride and become a supportive backup quarterback. That was his first step to becoming a more mature person on and off the field.
All of it was just strange because he was completing nearly 75% of his passes last year, but he wasn’t hitting the big shots that led to points and made the fans happy. He can make some throws that not even NFL starters can make with his ridiculous arm talent, but he just wasn’t letting it rip for some reason. A fresh start will be good for him, and I really believe he will bounce back strong and have South Carolina as competitors in the SEC East. He just needs to lean on his loaded tight end room, with star Jaheim Bell and former Sooner teammate Austin Stogner.
Wide Receiver Jadon Haselwood – Transferred From Oklahoma to Arkansas
Another player on the mass exodus train out of Norman when Lincoln Riley took the job at USC was Jadon Haselwood. Arkansas has a huge hole where now Tennessee Titans’ receiver Treylon Burks used to be. Quarterback KJ Jefferson has the ability to launch up on the deep ball, and Haselwood certainly can be on the other end of it.
Not only can he go up and get the deep shots like the departed Burks, but he can break tackles in the open field. He proved at Oklahoma that he can take a jet sweep to the house and can accelerate in a hurry on the smoke screen. Wide receivers coach Kenny Guiton will find a way to get the best out of this talented player, and I believe he’ll surprise folks as he passes the first test against the Cincinnati Bearcats week one.
Linebacker Jacoby Windmon – Transferred from UNLV to Michigan State
This former UNLV Runnin’ Rebel kept on running from Las Vegas until he stopped at East Lansing. When evaluating linebackers it’s fun to really digest what they bring to the table, and Windmon brings the juice every play. This might be one of the linebacker tapes I’ve seen in the last few years, which makes me believe if he would have been at a bigger school then he would be a well-known player.
Michigan State isn’t in the LBU conversation with Penn State and Alabama, but they always have a stud or two. Windmon will continue that as he plays extremely fast, has incredible instincts and displays athleticism to rush the passer and go sideline to sideline. I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if he ends up on the Big Ten All-Conference Team.
Safety Tanner McCalister – Transferred from Oklahoma State to Ohio State
Tanner McCalister is in as good of a situation as any transfer in the country. Coming along with him from Stillwater to Columbus is Jim Knowles, his defensive coordinator from Oklahoma State. If all the buzz is to believed with his transformation of the Ohio State defense then Knowles may be on, or even ahead of schedule, which could be scary.
This is the scheme that was top 10 in the country last season, even in the offense heavy Big 12, and it will now be performed by superior players. McCalister’s diverse nickel role allows him to play downhill against the run, and lurk around in coverage as he pleases. He’s incredible at separating receivers from the ball and should become a household name for the Buckeyes very quickly, especially once he starts laying the lumber as he flies in full steam.