This past week the college football world was buzzing with the idea of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller transferring to Alabama. That may or may not happen, but what we know for sure is that college football transfers will have quite an impact on the 2015 college football season.
Across the country, from Auburn to Oregon, teams will be attempting to plug holes by inserting someone who has transferred for one of many reasons. These 10 players will be critical to their teams’ success this season:
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee (via Hutchinson CC by way of Alabama)
Kamara was ranked by 247 Sports as the No. 2 overall JUCO prospect in the nation last season. Kamara’s name should be familiar to most — he was a part of the 2013 All-Star Alabama running back recruiting class that also included Derrick Henry, Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones. In nine games at Hutchinson, Kamara ran for 1,253 yards and 18 TD. So far he has drawn rave reviews in his practice time with the Vols. A 1-2 combo with Jalen Hurd will give the Vols one of the best duos in not just the SEC, but the nation.
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss (via East Mississippi CC by way of Clemson)
Kelly originally enrolled at Clemson before being dismissed from the program in 2014. He went the JUCO route and tossed 47 TD against 8 INT in his one year at East Mississippi. Hugh Freeze’s offense hasn’t lived up to the hype in his time at Ole Miss (although his defense has been much better than expected) and is in desperate need of a gunslinger. Freeze is therefore taking a chance on Kelly. He already got in trouble at Ole Miss, but Freeze is doubling-down by trusting him. You have to think he’s doing everything he can to keep this kid on the straight and narrow (including taking him along on a mission trip). Ole Miss and Kelly aren’t a match made in heaven, but both need each other. This will be one of the most intriguing stories in the nation this season.
Devonte Fields, DE, Louisville (via Trinity Valley CC by way of TCU)
Bobby Petrino is no stranger to second chances. He’s had more than one in his own life, and he’s giving out more than one this year at Louisville. As a freshman for TCU in 2012, Fields had 10 sacks and 18.5 TFL. He’s a difference maker. With the Cardinals losing three key members of their defensive line that combined for 16.5 sacks in 2014, Field is filling a big need for the Cards. Fields won’t be with the Cardinals until this fall, but provided everything falls into place, he will be a huge addition.
Jake Ganus, ILB, Georgia (via UAB)
With UAB shuttering its football program, players were free to go anywhere they liked with instant eligibility. Ganus chose Georgia, and he will have big shoes to fill for the Dawgs. Both Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera must be replaced. Ganus led the Blazers in tackles (70) and was second in sacks (6) last season. Ganus had an impressive spring with Georgia and will likely form a triumvirate with Tim Kimbrough and Reggie Carter at inside linebacker. With the talent Georgia has at OLB, there should be plenty of room for Ganus to fit in as a valuable member of Jeremy Pruitt’s defense.
Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana (via UAB)
Tevin Coleman led the Hoosiers last year with 2,036 yards rushing and 15 TD. Yeah, you read that right — 2,000 yards! Indiana was in the market for a replacement and, like Georgia, it found a good fit with a former UAB player. At UAB, Jordan Howard ran for 1,587 yards as a sophomore with 13 TD. Howard has battled an elbow injury in spring camp for Indiana, but he should be good to go this fall, when he is expected to carry the rushing load for the Hoosiers.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville (via Georgia)
Instead of going the JUCO or small school route when he was kicked out of Georgia, Harvey-Clemons went immediately to Louisville and his former coach, Todd Grantham. He sat out a year to make the switch. At Georgia, there were times when JHC was the best player on the field for the Bulldogs… and there were also times when he was horribly out of place or made poor decisions. JHC has the capability to be one of the best defenders in the nation. Sitting out a year should help his familiarity with any tweaks in a system he was already comfortable with. The Louisville defense will be one to watch this season with the addition of two potential All-ACC candidates in JHC and Fields.
Jovon Robinson, RB, Auburn (via Georgia Military College)
Kamara was the No. 2 JUCO prospect in the nation, but Robinson was No. 1. After spending some time at Georgia Military College (where he gained 198 yards per game and scored 34 TD in 2013), he beefed up and appears ready for the grind of the SEC. That’s great news for Auburn, which must replace Cameron Artis-Payne’s production. Expect to hear a lot from the tandem of Robinson and Roc Thomas in 2015.
Marquavius Lewis, DE, South Carolina (via Hutchinson C.C.)
Having introduced you to the first and second ranked recruits from 247’s JUCO class, let’s introduce you to No. 3. Lewis had offers on the table from Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, UCLA and USC. How will he fit in? He was named South Carolina’s defensive player of the spring. The Gamecocks’ defense took a dive last year, but getting Lewis in the fold will be a big boost to their attempt to get back on track.
Tray Matthews, S, Auburn (via Georgia)
Matthews is another Georgia guy who — after getting kicked out of school — went directly to another big-time program, as he joined Auburn and watched for a year from the sideline. Much like JHC, Matthews was a guy who often looked like a pro prospect and at other times left you scratching your head. With Will Muschamp leading him, and with time to mature, Matthews is already making waves at Auburn and looks like he could be a difference maker in what I believe will be a much improved Auburn defense this season.
Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon (via Eastern Washington)
Last but not least is Vernon Adams. Most of the other transfers came from the JUCO ranks or got the boot from their previous schools. Adams is moving up from the FCS level to the FBS via the graduate transfer rule. We threw bouquets at Adams earlier this offseason, and despite having to replace a Heisman Trophy winner, he looks like he’s the real deal. It will be very interesting to watch him lead the Oregon Ducks this fall.