20 non-QB transfers in line to make an impact during the 2022 college football season
There are a lot of familiar faces in new places ahead of the 2022 college football season. Earlier this offseason we recapped the flurry of transfers at the quarterback position for the upcoming season. Now is your chance for a refresher of all the big non-quarterback transfers since the end of 2021. Here are 20 players in alphabetical order below who we think could make big impacts for their new teams this season.
USC WR Jordan Addison (from Pitt)
The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner was the biggest non-quarterback transfer of the offseason. Addison and Kenny Pickett were the best passing combination in college football a season ago as Addison racked up 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. As you can imagine, expectations to repeat that performance are sky-high now that Addison is in Lincoln Riley’s offense at USC and will be catching passes from former Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams.
Texas TE Jahleel Billingsley (from Alabama)
Billingsley is now in Austin after a couple years of promise and high expectations with the Crimson Tide. Billingsley never saw the field consistently in Tuscaloosa and has just 37 career catches for 559 yards and six touchdowns. If he has a breakout campaign in 2022 he could easily eclipse his career numbers in a single season.
Arkansas S Latavious Brini (from Georgia)
Brini didn’t get the plaudits that many of his defensive teammates at Georgia did but he was a significant part of the deep Bulldog defense that powered Georgia to the national title. Brini played in 12 games in 2021 and had 38 total tackles. Arkansas needs to replace a lot on defense that was very senior-laden in 2021. Brini will be one of the players counted on to step in right away.
Alabama WR Jermaine Burton (from Georgia)
Yes, Burton not only transferred in-conference but also transferred from the defending national champions to the school that Georgia beat in the national title game. Burton averaged nearly 20 yards a catch in 2021 as a big-play threat for the Bulldogs’ offense. He had 26 catches for 497 yards and five touchdowns. He should reprise that role at Alabama.
LSU RB Noah Cain (from Penn State)
The former Nittany Lion is looking to get his college football career back on track in Baton Rouge. Cain ran for 443 yards and eight TDs on just 84 carries in 2019 and didn’t come close to that yardage total over the last two seasons combined. Cain suffered a knee injury in the first game of the 2020 season after just three carries and had just 350 yards and four TDs in 2021. There is an opening to seize in the LSU backfield after Tyrion Davis-Price was drafted by the 49ers.
Utah LB Mohamoud Diabate (from Florida)
Utah needs to replace do-it-all linebacker Devin Lloyd and Diabate could be one of the people to do it. Florida’s defense was much-maligned in 2021 but Diabate led the team with 89 tackles and also had 2.5 tackles for loss. He also gets to play in Gainesville to open his Utah career. The Utes visit Florida in one of the best games of the opening weekend.
USC RB Travis Dye (from Oregon)
Dye has been a major part of Oregon’s offense for the past four seasons. How major? He’s rushed for 3,111 yards while grabbing 83 catches for 869 yards in his Oregon career. His best season came in 2021 when he was the team’s feature back and had 211 carries for 1,271 yards and 16 TDs to go along with 46 catches and 402 receiving yards. Don’t let Dye’s addition to the USC offense fly under the radar.
Ole Miss RB Zach Evans (from TCU)
Evans played in just 15 games in two seasons at TCU but made a huge impact when he was on the field. He rushed for 1,063 yards in those games and averaged over seven yards a carry. Evans ended up at TCU after initially signing with Georgia as a five-star freshman. He’s now in the SEC and in line to start with Jerrion Ealy now in the NFL. He could be a stellar threat in Lane Kiffin’s offense.
Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs (from Georgia Tech)
Jameson Williams showed how much of an impact a transfer can make in Alabama’s offense in 2021. Is it Jahmyr Gibbs’ turn in 2022? The former Yellow Jacket rushed for 746 yards on 143 carries and had 465 receiving yards in 2021 for Georgia Tech. It’s safe to say that Gibbs’ supporting cast will be much better in Tuscaloosa than it was in Atlanta. And he could be an all-purpose back that offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien uses in myriad ways.
Alabama WR Tyler Harrell (from Louisville)
Harrell had just 18 catches in 2021 but he’s on this list because six of those went for touchdowns and he averaged 29 yards a catch. He was the epitome of a deep threat in Louisville’s offense and will be a field-stretcher for the Tide. He can also return kicks and may see some time there as well. With Harrell and Burton going in and out of the lineup, Alabama may be hoping to replace the downfield production of Jameson Williams with two receivers.
Arkansas WR Jadon Haselwood (from Oklahoma)
Haselwood had the most catches of any Oklahoma receiver in 2021 as Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler spread the ball around. Haselwood had 39 catches for 399 yards and led the team with six touchdown catches. He could immediately be Arkansas’ top receiver as the Razorbacks look to replace Treylon Burks’ playmaking.
Oregon RB Mar'Keise Irving (from Minnesota)
Irving ended up being a needed part of Minnesota’s offense in 2021 after Mo Ibrahim went down during the first game of the season. Irving ended the season as Minnesota’s second-leading rusher with 699 yards on 133 carries as a true freshman. He could be Oregon’s top back in 2022 with Dye’s departure to Southern Cal.
Kentucky RB Ramon Jefferson (from Sam Houston State)
Jefferson has a chance to be a breakout candidate in Kentucky’s rush-heavy offense. Leading rusher Chris Rodriguez returns from 2021 but was arrested for DWI in the spring and it’s possible that he could miss time at the start of the season. Kentucky’s backfield is crowded behind Rodriguez, but Jefferson rushed for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns for FCS powerhouse Sam Houston State in 2021. UK is Jefferson’s fourth school after he originally signed with Maine in 2017.
Notre Dame S Brandon Joseph (from Northwestern)
Joseph could immediately be one of Notre Dame’s best defensive players in 2022. The former Northwestern safety did a bit of everything in 2021. He was third on the team with 79 tackles, got a sack and was also the only Wildcat to have more than a single interception during the season. It’s too simplistic to say that he’ll be a direct replacement for Kyle Hamilton, but he could play a similar role in Marcus Freeman’s defense.
Nebraska DE Ochaun Mathis (from TCU)
Mathis played games in four seasons with the Horned Frogs and could be the edge rusher that Nebraska sorely needs to get to a bowl in 2022. Mathis has 26 career tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks and had at least 40 tackles in each of the past three seasons. His best season came in 2020 when he had 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 10 games.
Ohio State S Tanner McCalister (from Oklahoma State)
McCalister switched one OSU for another as he followed defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Stillwater to Columbus. McCalister will be a key part of the Buckeyes’ transition to Knowles’ scheme as he’s been a big player for Oklahoma State over the past three seasons. He had 11 passes defensed and 83 tackles over the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Alabama CB Eli Ricks (from LSU)
The former five-star recruit appeared in 14 games in two seasons at LSU. He had four interceptions as a freshman in 2020 and one interception in six games in 2021. Ricks should immediately see playing time in Alabama’s secondary in the long line of stellar Tide defensive backs.
Cal LB Jackson Sirmon (from Washington)
Simon made his way down the West Coast in the offseason and should immediately slot in as Cal’s best linebacker in 2022. Simon played in 12 games for the Huskies in 2021 and had 91 tackles and four tackles for loss in a season that Washington fans ultimately want to forget. His dad is former NFL linebacker Peter Sirmon and Peter is Cal’s defensive coordinator.
Florida State DE Jared Verse (from Albany)
Verse has been an impact rusher during his two years at Albany and will be counted on to keep that production up as he jumps up a level. Verse recorded 14.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss at Albany and has also forced two fumbles. With Jermaine Johnson now with the New York Jets, FSU needs someone to consistently get after the quarterback.
USC WR Mario Williams (from Oklahoma)
Williams was one of the gems of Oklahoma’s 2021 recruiting class. The receiver was a five-star recruit and the No. 2 wide receiver in the country. He made an immediate impact too with 35 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He may not be the No. 2 wide receiver in Los Angeles right away, but he could be the next star USC wide receiver in 2023.