There are plenty of impact players heading to new homes in college football for the 2017 season.
Every year in college football, we see the names on backs of jerseys change the name on the front. This group of players can have an impactful effect on the teams they leave behind, as well as the teams for which they will now suit up.
2017 is no different. Here are the most impactful transfers for the 2017 college football season.
- Malik Zaire, QB: from Notre Dame to Florida: After months of speculation, Zaire finally announced his decision. He wound up selecting Florida after the SEC changed a rule that allowed the Gators to accept the graduate transfer for the 2017 season. The former Notre Dame quarterback won the starting job in South Bend to open the 2015 season before an injury ended his season and opened the door for DeShone Kizer. Zaire went 58 for 98 passing for 816 yards, six TDs and 0 interceptions during seasons at Notre Dame. His main competition for the Gators’ starting job: Veteran Luke Del Rio (the son of Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio) and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks.
- Anu Solomon, QB: from Arizona to Baylor: Solomon comes to Baylor as a graduate transfer, so he’ll immediately be eligible to play. A knee injury ended his final time at Arizona last season, but he was highly effective for the Wildcats as a freshman and sophomore, passing for 48 TDs and only 14 interceptions in that span. He’ll have to adjust to new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule’s pro-style attack after three years under Rich Rodriguez’s up-tempo spread offense at Arizona.
- Jared Stidham, QB: from Baylor to Auburn: Since Stidham initially visited a Tigers practice while deciding on his next school, there has been some buzz at Auburn about what the former Baylor starting QB could do in Gus Malzahn’s offense. He made his decision official in December, choosing Auburn over Florida and Texas A&M, and was on hand for spring drills. As a freshman in 2015, Stidham completed 75 of 109 passes for 1,265 yards, 12 TDs and two INTs for Baylor, most of it over three starts after QB Seth Russell was lost to a season-ending injury. He opted to transfer after Art Briles was fired as the Bear’s head coach.
- Kyle Allen, QB: from Texas A&M to Houston: While now NFL rookie Greg Ward was leading the Cougars to a 9-4 record in 2016, Allen was unavailable due to NCAA transfer rules. He came from Texas A&M, where he got tons of experience in both 2014 and 2015, but decided to transfer after a controversial QB competition with Kyler Murray. Now, he’s the likely starter for the Cougars under new coach Major Applewhite.
- Will Grier, QB: from Florida to West Virginia: A suspension and a transfer cost Grier a season and a half. Now, his return to football as leader of the Mountaineers’ offense is imminent. He was unbeaten in six games for the Gators in 2015 before a positive test for a PED sidelined him for a year. His West Virginia arrival is well-timed as last year’s QB, Skyler Howard, has graduated.
- Thomas Tyner, RB: from Oregon to Oregon State: We thought we’d seen the last of Tyner when the former Oregon back retired from football after missing the 2015 season while recovering from a shoulder injury. Now, after two years away from the sport, he’s found a new home at Oregon State looking to revive his career. If Tyner recaptures his freshman form, in which he rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns on only on 115 carries for the Ducks, Oregon State’s running game is about to get a serious upgrade.
- Dee Delany, CB: from Citadel to Miami (FL): From a draft standpoint, Delaney’s transfer is a tremendous opportunity because he’s stepping up from an FCS level Hurricanes’ ACC competition, something NFL scouts will surely notice. He comes from The Citadel, where he led the Southern Conference in interceptions last year with six and was an FCS All-American. He has abundant size (6-foot-1, 194 pounds) and figures to step in at a position of need for Miami.
- Brandon Harris, QB: from LSU to North Carolina: Harris has plenty of game experience — 347 pass attempts over three seasons at LSU. He wasn’t able to keep the Tigers’ starting job, but he enters a wide-open opportunity at UNC with the exit of Mitchell Trubisky to the NFL. He’ll also be able to put his rushing talents to good use in Larry Fedora’s offense. Don’t be shocked if Harris plays better in Chapel Hill than he ever did in Baton Rouge.
- Blake Barnett, QB: from Alabama to Arizona State: Barnett didn’t have the chance to show much last year at Alabama to call him a presumptive success at Arizona State. But there are some factors here working in his favor. First off, he’ll be working with a familiar coach in new Sun Devils offensive coordinator Billy Napier, who was the Crimson Tide receivers coach in 2016. Barnett does have the requisite talent to be succesful. He was a five-star recruit for a reason, and has plenty of arm strength. He’ll battle Manny Wilkins for the starting job in fall camp.
- Kendall Sheffield, CB: from Alabama to Ohio State: Sheffield originally signed with Alabama in 2015. However, after a redshirt season at Bama, he was off to Blinn (Texas) College, where Cam Newton once spent a season. Ohio State signed Sheffield from Blinn as the top-rated JuCo cornerback in the country, and after spring drills, coach Urban Meyer has already identified him as the team’s third cornerback. He should see the field a lot this fall in an OSU secondary that will be wide open for competition in fall camp.
TOP JUCO TRANSFERS
- Gary Johnson, LB: from Dodge City CC to Texas: The 6’1″, 225-pound linebacker will team with star linebacker Malik Jefferson to give Texas an uber talented duo on the second level of the defense. It’s a unit that could use the help after an underwhelming tenure under former head coach Charlie Strong.
- De’Andre Johnson, QB: from East Mississippi CC to Florida Atlantic: Lane Kiffin’s first season as Florida Atlantic head’ coach is expected to feature the dynamic talent of Johnson at QB. The is the former Florida State signal-caller, who was dismissed by the Seminoles in 2015 for striking a female student at a bar. Johnson played last season at East Mississippi Community College, where he amassed nearly 3,500 yards in total offense, before signing with FAU in December. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining with the Owls.
- Isaiah Buggs, DE: from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC to Alabama: The 6’5″, 290-pound star from Mississippi Gulf Coast had offers from just about everyone. Alabama didn’t have a major need along the defensive line, so the rich got richer when he signed. Now, he’ll be the nest in a long line of Bama studs on the d-line, on their way to the NFL.
- Adonis Thomas, LB: from NW Mississippi JC to Florida State: Thomas is a 6’3″, 230-pound linebacker from Lawrenceville, Georgia, who played last season at Northwest Mississippi after starting his college career with Alabama. He will play his final two seasons for the Seminoles. He’s as talented as you’d expect any highly-recruited former Alabama linebacker to be.
- Andrew Ginkel, EDGE: from Iowa Western CC to Wisconsin: Big, long and strong, the 6’4″, 230-pound pass rusher is expected to have an immediate impact at Wisconsin. He’ll get tons of attention, as well, with his chiseled frame and long-flowing blonde hair out of the back of his helmet.