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Odds and Ends

Under the radar transfer portal impact players

by Tyler Forness
Updated On: August 9, 2022, 5:37 pm ET

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College football has changed a lot over the years, but arguably the biggest change has been the advent of the transfer portal.

Once the transfer portal came into effect, recruiting changed forever. Instead of trying to find a position from the high school ranks, teams can just go to the transfer portal and find an immediate starter. That fact has shown an immediate impact in the landscape of college football. The most notable impact players from the transfer portal have been Jameson Williams, Joe Burrow and Justin Fields.

This offseason has featured a lot of high-profile transfers, including QBs Caleb Williams, Spencer Rattler, and Quinn Ewers. Outside of the top names, there are many that have flown under the radar. Here are four players that are set up to thrive after transferring this offseason.

RB Ulysses Bentley IV, Ole Miss

 

Lane Kiffin has done an excellent job so far as the head coach at Ole Miss. Last season, he led the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl appearance and a 10-win season. Matt Corral led an efficient and explosive offense with a two-headed monster in the backfield. Both Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner have moved onto the NFL, leaving an opening in the backfield. 

 

Kiffin went directly to the transfer portal to fill those spots with the headliner being former five-star TCU RB Zach Evans. Evans will bring a dynamic skillset to Oxford and make the offense explosive. The underrated addition in the portal was Bentley IV. A standout at SMU last year, Bentley IV dominated the competition in just about every way. Injuries hindered him at the back end of last year, but Bentley IV is explosive, represented by his 6.4 YPC average. Don't let Evans' presence overshadow Bentley IV, as he could just as easily break out in a big way this year.


QB Cameron Ward, Washington State

Having gone through a season of unnecessary frustration and drama, Washington State enters the 2022 season with some excitement. Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert took over in an interim capacity last season and earned the promotion to full-time head coach. In the offseason, the Cougars lost quarterback Jayden de Laura to conference rival Arizona. To replace de Laura, Dickert went the FCS route in a similar way to what Western Kentucky did when they got Bailey Zappe.

Ward comes from FCS school Incarnate Word. A relatively unknown recruit out of a small Texas town, Ward ran the Winged-T offense in high school. Knowing that he had the tools to play quarterback at a big-time level, Ward went the FCS route to prove himself. He did just that and thrived in a vertical passing offense. That offense was led by head coach Eric Morris, who is also heading to Washington State in the exact same way Zach Kittley went from HC to OC last year for the Hilltoppers. Ward has the tools you want from a pro prospect: size, arm talent, and the ability to create outside of structure. In a Pac-12 conference that isn't the strongest defensively, Ward could be poised for a massive season.


WR Jacob Cowing, Arizona

Last week, I wrote about my best bets for Power Five win total bets and the Arizona Wildcats were one of my favorites. I love what Jedd Fisch is doing with the Wildcats. Last season, he had them playing incredibly hard and were competitive in games they shouldn't have been. This season, the Wildcats are poised to take the next step, as Fisch has started to add talent.

UTEP isn't known as a school that loves passing the football. This past season, the Miners ranked 50th in the nation in passing yards per game, a lot of the credit going to Cowing. A smaller receiver (5'11/170), Cowing is a maven in the deep passing game. He understands how to get open and has the speed to exploit it. After the catch is where he can also do damage, weaving in the open field with relative ease. Cowing isn't the most natural hands catcher of the football though, but that is an area he can improve on. He immediately becomes the number one target for de Laura and the Wildcats.


WR Tyler Harrell, Alabama

After losing to Georgia in the National Championship Game, the Crimson Tide hit the transfer portal hard this offseason. The offense was hindered by both John Metchie and Jameson Williams suffering torn ACLs. The depth at wide receiver was exposed to be a major issue for the Crimson Tide. Early on in the transfer portal, Nick Saban attacked the position securing two wide receivers to come in and start. Jermaine Burton comes over from Georgia with a high pedigree, as does RB Jahmyr Gibbs from Georgia Tech, but it's the receiver opposite Burton that could be the X-factor this season.

Harrell comes from Louisville where he was sparingly used in 2021. Playing in 12 games, Harrell only caught 18 passes but did so at a staggering clip of 29.1 YPC. A true deep-threat, Harrell specializes in the deep ball. He is the definition of a true burner, as he was hand-timed running a 4.19-second 40-yard dash at Louisville. With the success Williams had last season as a deep threat, the transition to Harrell in that role should be a smooth one.

Tyler Forness

Tyler Forness has been a college football fan since 1994 and has been writing about it and the NFL Draft since 2019 and has had his writing featured on numerous websites. You can find him on Twitter @TheRealForno.