2012 Spring Football
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- 2012 All-Transfer Defense
Unlike professional sports, the college game has no free agency. It does, however, have transfers, those gems who began their careers at another FBS program, yet for myriad reasons seek a fresh start elsewhere.
Every year, dozens of players from across the country opt to relocate to a different university in order to continue their athletic and academic pursuits. Their impetus runs the gamut from being closer to family and seeking more playing time to getting out from under the thumb of a prickly coaching staff. Many are looking to reinvent themselves, having lost some of the luster that accompanied their final season in high school. A new environment can sometimes be the perfect remedy for a turnaround.
Many of this season’s top transfers have been forgotten, thanks to that questionable NCAA rule that requires these opportunity seekers to sit out one full season before becoming eligible in 2012. Forgotten, yes, but hardly gone. Having spent the past months to a year learning new playbooks and hitting the weights in earnest, each is itching to make the most of this second chance in a new locale.
QB Dayne Crist, Kansas via Notre Dame
Reunited. And Jayhawks fans hope it feels so good. Crist followed former head coach Charlie Weis, who was hired to succeed Turner Gill, to Lawrence in an effort to resuscitate a sagging career. His time in South Bend was disappointing, never approaching the expectations of a former five-star blue-chipper. His 2009 and 2010 were cut short by knee injuries, and last year was derailed by an opening day benching. In four years, Crist wound up throwing just 16 touchdown passes. Still, he has the tools—and the mentor—to parlay one final year into a 12-game NFL audition.
Cody Green, Tulsa via Nebraska
The Golden Hurricane wasn’t even in the running for the four-star Green three years ago. Now, he’s the program’s likely cornerstone at quarterback for the next two seasons. A terrific blend of arm strength and athleticism in a 6-4, 225-pound frame, he should take over for another heralded transfer, three-year starter G.J. Kinne.
Connor Wood, Colorado via Texas
The No. 9-ranked quarterback of 2010, who had his pick of major programs, gives the Buffs much-needed cause for excitement at the position. After playing well on the scout team, he’s set to break the seal and become the player many expected him to be coming out of high school. The 6-3, 225-pounder has three years to construct a legacy in Boulder.
Tyler Gabbert, UCF via Missouri
Two years ago, Gabbert was battling James Franklin to become the Mizzou starter. Today, he’s determined to become the face of the Knights program. The 12th-ranked quarterback recruit of 2010, who was briefly with Louisville in 2011, is seeking a fresh start in Orlando.
Ryan Katz, San Diego State via Oregon State
No longer the favorite son in Corvallis, the strong-armed Katz is returning closer to his Santa Monica roots intent on becoming the successor to Ryan Lindley. Groomed as the franchise for the Beavers, he threw 18 touchdown passes in 2010, but was passed on the depth chart last fall by rookie Sean Mannion.
Ryan Williams, Miami via Memphis
Transfers usually go from the ACC to Conference USA, but Williams has flipped the script. Overlooked by bigger programs coming out of high school, the Broward County, Fla. native started 10 games for Memphis as a true freshman in 2010. However, a shift in offensive philosophy prior to 2011 encouraged him to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Terrance Broadway, UL-Lafayette via Houston
After sitting out last season, Broadway is eager to show why he’s one of the most heralded recruits to ever put down stakes in Lafayette. Pursued by the likes of Oregon, Alabama and Nebraska while in high school in Baton Rouge, the dual-threat will compete with Blaine Gautier this fall before replacing him in 2013.
Kevin Newsome, Temple via Penn State
Newsome’s saga in Happy Valley has ended. His tenure in South Philly is about to begin. The former four recruit, who never quite seemed content as a Lion, will look to revive his career with an Owls program looking for a little competition for late-season success story Chris Coyer.
RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor via Oregon
By all physical measures, Seastrunk appeared to be the next coming in the Oregon running back factory, a five-star wunderkind from the Class of 2010. However, the elusive playmaker never played a down in Eugene, making more headlines for being at the center of the Willie Lyles recruiting scandal. Seastrunk arrives in Waco at an ideal time as the Bears begin life after Robert Griffin III and Terrance Ganaway. In an offense that affords its backs wide lanes with which to navigate, the third-year sophomore is poised to make a national splash in his long-awaited debut.
RB Mike Blakely, Auburn via Florida
Even after signing with the Gators in 2011, Blakely couldn’t get the thought of playing on the Plains out of his mind. After sitting out last year, he’ll now get his chance to fulfill that dream. The tenth-ranked back of last year’s recruiting class will help bolster an Auburn backfield looking to replace its own high-profile transfer, new Arkansas State student Michael Dyer. Blakely is a 5-9, 185-pound jackrabbit who’ll be competing for reps this offseason with gifted holdovers Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason.
Storm Johnson, UCF via Miami
Having been effectively blocked by the ‘Canes from transferring to an ACC or SEC school, Johnson relocated north to Orlando to continue his college career. The powerful 215-pounder carried the ball only nine times at Miami, but now has a chance to battle a deep collection of Knights runners for touches in the fall.
Toney Williams, Ball State via Tennessee
Players of Williams’ caliber don’t show up in Muncie too often. The 6-0, 220-pounder was the nation’s fourth-rated fullback of 2009, but he has the requisite running skills to become a feature back for the Cardinals. He’ll compete with Jahwan Edwards, last year’s freshman surprise, for touches in 2012.
Corey Grant, Auburn via Alabama
Grant is switching sides in one of college football’s most intense rivalries, leaving ‘Bama for Auburn. The local star redshirted in 2010, sat out 2011 and becomes available for Gene Chizik this fall. He joins a deep backfield, but has the natural running skills to play very early in his career.
Drayton Calhoun, Middle Tennessee via LSU
What do you get when you combine a four-star LSU recruit with a Sun Belt schedule? Excitement in Murfreesboro. Calhoun harbors the explosive speed and overall talent to become an instant hit at a school unaccustomed to housing athletes of his caliber. A corner in Baton Rouge, he’ll handle the ball for the Blue Raiders.
DeLeon Eskridge, San Jose State via Minnesota
Eskridge’s desire to move closer to his San Mateo, Calif. home could wind up being San Jose State’s gain. After spending his entire career in the Big Ten, and sitting out the 2011 season, he’s ready to compete for the starting job at San Jose State. The Gophers’ leading rusher in 2008 and 2010 has one season of eligibility remaining.
WR DeAnthony Arnett, Michigan State via Tennessee
Landing Arnett is a major coup for Mark Dantonio and his staff. Whether the receiver starts paying dividends in 2012 or 2013, however, remains unknown until the NCAA hands down its decision on his future. The eighth-rated wide receiver of the 2011 recruiting class chose to move closer to his Saginaw, Mich. home and particularly his father, who’s facing a series of medical issues. He showed signs of potential as a rookie in Knoxville, catching 24 passes for 242 yards and two scores. In East Lansing, he’ll fill a need for a corps losing B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol to graduation.
WR Josh Gordon, Utah via Baylor
Gordon is getting a second chance in Salt Lake City after being suspended indefinitely by Baylor after being arrested near campus for possession of marijuana. His talent is immense, which is one of the reasons the Utes were willing to overlook his past transgressions. As one of Robert Griffin III’s favorite targets in 2010, the then-sophomore caught 42 balls for 714 yards and seven touchdowns to garner All-Big 12 recognition. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, with good wheels, he possesses the physical attributes to bloom into a budding outside playmaker in the Pac-12.
Brice Butler, San Diego State via USC
Butler is one of three Pac-12 imports to the Mesa, including former Oregon State QB Ryan Katz. The former Trojan has already graduated, and therefore will immediately be eligible for the Aztecs. The one-time four-star pick-up from Georgia ended his USC career with 41 receptions for 554 yards and three touchdowns.
Chris Dunkley, South Florida via Florida
Skip Holtz scored big with this signing, landing a former five-star prospect and the No. 8 wide receiver of the 2010 class. Things didn’t work out, both academically and physically, in Gainesville for Dunkley, who becomes one of the most ballyhooed recruits to ever choose the Bulls. He’s a downfield playmaker who can get behind the secondary in a hurry.
Je’Ron Stokes, Bowling Green via Michigan
Having failed to fulfill expectations as a Wolverine, Stokes will look to ignite his career in the MAC. The four-star Philadelphia recruit is seeking a fresh start on a new campus after catching just three passes in two seasons. He joins a program that includes his younger brother, Malik, and is searching for a replacement for top pass-catchers Kamar Jorden and Eugene Cooper.
Javares McRoy, Texas Tech via Florida
After a short—and forgettable—stint in Gainesville, which included a collapsed lung, McRoy chose to transfer to Texas Tech to play alongside his older brother, Ben. The second-year receiver isn’t very big, but he’s lightning quick, enticing coaches to get the ball in his hands by any means available.
Shakim Phillips, Connecticut via Boston College
Phillips not only upgrades the talent level in Storrs, but he does so at a position of perpetual need for the Connecticut program. The three-star recruit, with the frame built to create mismatches, gives the Huskies quarterbacks a dangerous target with which to exploit Big East defensive backs.
Brandon Clear, Illinois via Clemson
While Clear brings experience to Champaign, shrinking playing time at Clemson caused him to seek out new opportunities prior to the start of the 2011 season. He’s tough to miss at 6-5 and 210 pounds, giving the Illini an additional option as it attempts to adequately offset the production of A.J. Jenkins in the passing game.
Brendon Felder, Pittsburgh via North Carolina
Felder returns to his Pennsylvania roots, hoping to serve in a number of roles for the Panthers. He’s a speedy, multi-dimensional athlete who’s expected to contribute on offense and as a return man on special teams. Felder could become the long-term replacement for versatile Cameron Saddler, who has one year of eligibility left.
TE Brock DeCicco, Wisconsin via Pittsburgh
Feeling as if head coach Todd Graham’s spread offense no longer catered to his skill set, DeCicco opted to relocate before the start of the 2011 season. In a twist of irony, Graham only lasted one season at Pitt, and was replaced by former Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Still, the 6-5, 240-pounder, with two seasons of eligibility remaining, figures to mesh nicely at a program that’s long made good use of the tight end in the passing game. Blocking his upward mobility will be up-and-coming Badger TE Jacob Pedersen.
OL Brent Benedict, Virginia Tech via Georgia
A dispute with the philosophies of new strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski marked the beginning of the end for Benedict in Athens. Lucky Hokies. The 6-5, 300-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla. was a four-star recruit two years ago. While he hasn’t played since suffering a serious knee injury during his senior year of high school, he impressed the Tech staff as a scout team member a year ago with his intensity and drive blocking skills. Benedict is a particularly welcome addition for a program losing four of last season’s five starting blockers.
OL R.J. Dill, Rutgers via Maryland
In Dill, the Scarlet Knights are getting a seasoned veteran of 33 career starts while he was in College Park. He’ll essentially be a one-year fix at tackle, a free agent of sorts for first-year head coach Kyle Flood. Already enrolled in graduate classes, the degreed senior will begin taking his first big steps this spring toward winning a job. He’ll have a decided edge in experience over Andre Civil and Kaleb Johnson, but has some catching up to do regarding the Rutgers offense and supporting personnel.
OL Jordan Prestwood, Notre Dame via Florida State
Prestwood sure can pivot quickly, a key attribute for any offensive lineman. He originally committed to the Irish in April of 2010, de-committed six months later and enrolled at Florida State one year ago. Today, he’s matriculated at Notre Dame, basically coming full circle. The nation’s tenth-ranked tackle of 2011 is a key signing for the program, which envisions Prestwood as a future cornerstone of the front wall. The former high school tight end wisely used his redshirt year to add more weight without sacrificing agility or foot speed.
OL Tom Ricketts Pittsburgh via Penn State
Ricketts had no particular issue with Penn State. He simply was homesick, choosing to transfer last summer closer to his Wexford, Penn. home. He was an important get for Todd Graham, who’s no longer at the helm of the Pitt program. Coming out of high school, Ricketts was graded a four-star prospect, the No. 28 tackle in America. He’s had an offseason to add weight to a lean frame, and to get better acclimated to his new digs. The presence of a new staff, with a distinct Wisconsin flavor, will help the development of all of the young Panthers blockers.
OL Phil Smith, UCF via Georgia Tech
The Knights won’t have access to Smith for a few more months, but they believe he’ll be worth the wait. The 6-5, 290-pound two-year starter at tackle for the Knights must first complete his degree at Georgia Tech in May before becoming eligible to transfer to UCF in time for the 2012 season. He’ll have a small window of time to flush the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option from his system, while absorbing his new team’s pro-style attack. Smith is an important addition for a school that struggled at the point of attack, and is looking for a replacement for RT Nick Pieschel.
Cam Feldt, North Texas via Arkansas
The Mean Green is ecstatic about landing a heralded offensive lineman who began his career in the SEC. Feldt was a three-star prospect two years ago, drawing considerable attention throughout the south and southwest. The 6-4, 295-pound native Texan should vie for a starting job the moment he begins practicing this spring.
Tayo Fabuluje, TCU via BYU
Fabuluje represents a big signing for the Horned Frogs—literally. The 6-7, 315-pounder has fulfilled a wish to return closer to his Euless, Tex. home, transferring to TCU at the conclusion of the 2010 season. The former three-star recruit is a coveted addition for a school beginning life in the Big 12 without both of last year’s starting tackles.
- 2012 All-Transfer Defense