College football instant-impact newcomer rankings: Schools with the top transfers and freshmen combined


Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. Consistent College Football Playoff contenders such as Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State have shown the importance of elite high school talent that can be developed from within.

Not everyone can take the same path, though, and many roads can lead to success on the field.

The transfer portal has changed how programs build rosters. Some schools have gone all-in looking to overhaul and infuse their roster with experienced talented via transfers, while others lean more heavily on traditional prep recruiting using the portal more sparingly.

So we rank the top 25 groups of newcomers — recruits and transfers combined — based on who could see the most impactful immediate returns for 2023.

Top impact newcomers: WR Zachariah Branch (No. 7 recruit in the ESPN 300), RB MarShawn Lloyd (South Carolina transfer), DT Bear Alexander (Georgia transfer), WR Dorian Singer (Arizona transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 10th

The Trojans’ blend of high-level recruiting and utilizing the portal could propel them into their first playoff appearance. They added more potential offensive firepower with a pair of five-star WRs, led by Branch, a dynamic speedster (10.33 100-meter) who can quickly contribute on offense and in the return game, while a healthy Makai Lemon only adds to the riches in their receiver room. They brought in two RBs to complement second-leading returning rusher Austin Jones by adding South Carolina’s top rusher from last season, Lloyd (573 yards), and four-star signee Quinten Joyner, whose strong spring is creating buzz.

A question for the Trojans coming out of the signing periods was the strengthening of the trenches, but they addressed that concern well via the portal. On the defensive front Kyon Barrs (Arizona) and Jack Sullivan (Purdue) bring Power 5 starting experience. Alexander (Georgia) and Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M) were both highly touted prospects in the 2022 class who possess a wealth of ability and have time on their side. Samuel Greene was an underrated signing with a good explosiveness who could contribute right away at rush end.

Long-term overview: Sustained playoff contention. This program inserted players to win now, but unlike the Los Angeles Rams, USC is not built for all or nothing. Returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, we may not even see the Trojans’ top signee in 2023, but No. 1 QB Malachi Nelson gives them an elite heir apparent who can benefit from time to learn and physically develop. On defense, ESPN 300 LB Tackett Curtis and safety Christian Pierce are already creating buzz and display promising futures. Several portal transfers have limited eligibility, but big additions such as Alexander and Lucas are coming off freshmen seasons.

Top impact newcomers: OT Francis Mauigoa (No. 6 recruit), OG Javion Cohen (Alabama transfer), LB Francisco Mauigoa (Washington State transfer), RB Mark Fletcher (No. 204 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: fifth

Mario Cristobal returned to his alma mater as head coach and nicely blended use of the transfer portal with 2023 prospects to boost the roster that won just five games last season. Francis Mauigoa, the No. 1 OT recruit, is a massive, powerful and agile player who competed regularly against top competition at IMG Academy and looks poised to immediately take a major role in the trenches. The O-line should also benefit from portal additions of Cohen, who started over 20 games the past two seasons at Alabama, and UCF’s Matthew Lee, one of the top centers in the country.

Onetime Ohio State commit Fletcher was a key hometown keep and should immediately get touches. The ESPN 300 RB, out of South Florida power American Heritage, is a big back who can be a three-down back and grind in short yardage but also has some big-play wiggle, showing out during a 224-yard, two-score performance against Los Alamitos High School (California) last season. On defense, Francis’ older brother, Francisco, strengthens the front seven. Meanwhile, versatile DL Anthony Campbell (Louisiana-Monroe) was a nice late add to a unit long looking to reestablish itself as one of the nation’s most dominant.

Long-term overview: Players in place to return to college football’s elite. While additions such as Lee on the OL are short term, some promising young players are also on the roster in the trenches in Mauigoa and fellow five-star OL Samson Okunlola, who could contribute in Year 1. Fletcher was not the only key local signing, as DL Rueben Bain from Miami Central is an explosive player who notched three sacks last season against an IMG O-line that included Mauigoa. TE Riley Williams has tools to be one of Miami’s next big-time players at the position. DE Collins Acheampong has limited experience but tremendous upside with elite length and agility. While he’ll need time to develop, he could end up one of the most impactful signings from this class in a few years.

Top impact newcomers: WR Keon Coleman (Michigan State transfer), CB Fentrell Cypress II (Virginia transfer), OL Jeremiah Byers (UTEP transfer), TE Jaheim Bell (South Carolina transfer), DL Braden Fiske (Western Michigan transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 18th

Returning QB Jordan Travis lost several productive targets from a year ago, but the Seminoles, via the portal, added a potential weapon in Coleman. A big target at 6-foot-4, he was Michigan State’s leading receiver a year ago with 58 receptions, which would have led FSU as well, and he should pair nicely with top returning receiver Johnny Wilson (6-7). Bell, who flashed impact ability, could quickly become another key offensive weapon for a team looking to make a CFP run.

Talented QBs and WRs are useless without a good O-line, and FSU used the portal well to address losses upfront. The school added multiple players with starting experience in Keiondre Jones (22 starts at Auburn), Byers (30 starts at UTEP) and the versatile Casey Roddick (30 starts at Colorado), who has played multiple positions. FSU scored one of the biggest overall wins out of the portal with CB Cypress, who is coming off an all-conference season at Virginia.

Long-term overview: Adding building blocks to maintain success. FSU’s recruiting class, which was out of the top 15, didn’t carry much buzz, but the Noles added players to complement a strong portal haul. The O-line transfers should allow promising ESPN 300 OT Lucas Simmons a little more developmental time, but he has the physical tools to be a high-level multiyear starter. Wilson and Coleman bring experience and height, but the WR with the most impact potential in that position group could be ESPN 300 prospect Hykeem Williams, who also has nice length and brings game-breaking play speed, recording a blazing 22.24 mph MaxSpeed score.

Top impact newcomers: CB Denver Harris (Texas A&M transfer), CB Zy Alexander (SE Louisiana transfer), OL Mason Lunsford (Maryland transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: sixth

After former five-star freshman Will Campbell and ESPN 300 OG Emery Jones emerged last year, the O-line looks to improve further with the transfer addition of Lunsford, a multiyear starter at Maryland who strengthens the interior. Third-ranked tackle recruit Zalance Heard is coming off a strong Under Armour All-America Game performance and could be the Tigers’ next breakout freshman lineman.

Viewed by many as “DBU,” the school worked the portal to replenish a secondary unit facing a lot of turnover. The Tigers added a pair of former top-five cornerback recruits in Harris (2022), who was suspended at Texas A&M multiple times as a freshman but has impact ability, and JK Johnson (2021), who started five games for Ohio State last year. Duce Chestnut, a freshman All-American at Syracuse, adds proven FBS production (4 INTs, 13 PBUs in two seasons) and versatility. Though it’s difficult to jump levels, Alexander is a tall, lengthy CB who was a multiyear starter and all-conference performer at FCS playoff program Southeastern Louisiana. Local recruit Kylin Jackson, a physical defender from Zachary High School, could emerge at safety as a freshman.

Long-term overview: Returning to national title contender. SEC titles and national championship contention are the expectation at LSU, and while the impact additions should put the Tigers back in the SEC title mix, the pieces are also coming into place for a return to sustained power. Transfers such as Harris, Johnson and WR Aaron Anderson arrive with plenty of eligibility. A focused Harris and a healthy Anderson, especially as a return specialist, could be all-conference performers, at least. TE Mason Taylor had a promising freshman season and ESPN 300 signees Mac Markway and Ka’Morreun Pimpton, a late flip from Vanderbilt, add talented depth. Additions such as Jackson, No. 3 CB Javien Toviano and versatile ESPN 300 recruit Ryan Yaites should boost LSU’s case as DBU. The offensive line has a chance to be among the nation’s elite with young four-stars such as Heard joining Campbell and Jones.

Top impact newcomers: ATH Travis Hunter (Jackson State transfer), QB Shedeur Sanders (Jackson State transfer), S Myles Slusher (Arkansas transfer), WR Jimmy Horn Jr. (South Florida transfer), RB Dylan Edwards (No. 140 recruit).

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 23rd

Colorado made headlines with its sweeping roster overhaul, and with that, Deion Sanders added impact talent to help rebuild a program that won just five games over the past two seasons. Hunter shocked the recruiting world when he signed with Jackson State out of high school during the 2022 recruiting cycle, but it was no surprise to see him follow Sanders to Colorado, which is great news for the Buffaloes. A dynamic playmaker, he will likely bolster the roster on both sides of the ball with action at CB and WR.

No one better understands what Coach Prime wants to accomplish or serves as a more ideal offensive leader than his son Shedeur. He brings experience and production from his time at Jackson State, having thrown for over 6,000 yards and 70 TDs. A record number of outgoing transfers will in turn bring in new faces, such as Horn, who can be a versatile addition on offense and in the return game. Former AAC Rookie of the Year Alton McCaskill (Houston) could be a key addition to the ground attack.

Long-term overview: Major overhaul underway. Deion’s aggressiveness in the portal has brought quick fixes but also longer-term answers to build upon. Those include additions such as Hunter, an elite talent who is entering just his sophomore season, and Shedeur, who can bring some stability to the QB position with two years of eligibility. The portal is not the only resource being utilized to rebuild, as Colorado was able to sign a top-25 class that included five-star CB Cormani McClain. A defender with elite length and body control, he could give Colorado one of the top CB tandems in the country once he gets rolling in the program. Edwards, an early enrollee and top-10 running back prospect, may be among the soonest to contribute. While he needs to add mass, he is an electric speedster who posted a 4.39 40 and a 7.12 L-drill on the camp circuit last year and can quickly become an offensive playmaker.

Top impact newcomers: DE Jordan Burch (South Carolina transfer), OL Junior Angilau (Texas transfer), LB Jestin Jacobs (Iowa transfer), DE Matayo Uiagalelei (No. 65 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: eighth

The portal yielded big returns last year in QB Bo Nix and the Ducks’ top two rushers. Can it lead to similar success at receiver? If Traeshon Holden can consistently reach the promise he showed in high school as an ESPN 300 prospect with nice length and good speed who signed with Alabama in 2020, he can be key target in the passing attack. To protect the playmaking talent, the Ducks found potential starters in Angilau, a three-year starter at Texas with limited eligibility remaining, and one of the top FCS offensive linemen in Rhode Island’s Ajani Cornelius, who should at least add quality depth.

Defensive-minded head coach Dan Lanning wants to get to the opposing QB more, and Burch can do that. A five-star in the 2020 class, he never quite met those expectations at South Carolina but was productive and after showing progress last season (7.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks) he could become the Ducks’ most dangerous pass-rusher since Kayvon Thibodeaux. ESPN 300 signee Uiagalelei is a freshman who could step in and bring positional versatility.

Long-term overview: Built to remain a premier power out west. Jacobs should be an immediate productive starter with a few years of eligibility left. After a promising 2021 season when he was among Iowa’s leading tacklers, his 2022 campaign was cut short by injury, but after a strong spring he could end up as one of Oregon’s top additions. Cole Martin, the son of cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin, lacks ideal size (5-10, 175) in the secondary but is an active, heady defender who will throw his body around and should at the very least be a special teams star early on. The Ducks added big-time speed to the roster via their top-10 2023 recruiting class with signings such as DB Rodrick Pleasant, one of the fastest players in the class regardless of position, and WR Ashton Cozart, a target with nice length who has posted an 11.05 100-meter and a laser-timed 4.58 40.

Top impact newcomers: LB Dasan McCullough (Indiana transfer), OT Walter Rouse (Stanford transfer), DL Rondell Bothroyd (Wake Forest transfer), DB Peyton Bowen (No. 17 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: fourth

Year 1 of the Brent Venables era didn’t go as planned, but the Sooners added players to bounce back from a disappointing six-win season. McCullough met expectations as a top-50 recruit from the 2022 class and was an impact freshman with the Hoosiers (49 tackles, four sacks) who should be among the Sooners’ defensive upgrades. Up front, Bothroyd should step in and help make Oklahoma’s defensive unit more disruptive after tacking up 24.5 tackles for loss over the past two campaigns.

Bowen’s road to Norman included commitments to Notre Dame and Oregon, but he gives Oklahoma a prospect with excellent speed and playmaking potential on defense and in the return game. Reggie Pearson Jr. brings experience (Wisconsin, Texas Tech), toughness and talent to the secondary. Rouse is a quick fix but a high-level one arriving with experience as a four-year starter at Stanford. Andrel Anthony comes with limited production from Michigan but is a smooth runner with good hands and could have a role with the Sooners’ needing a receiver.

Long-term overview: Impact talent added. Bowen is one of three five-star signings. While the experienced Dillon Gabriel returns and is likely to be QB1 to start the season, he’s no lock to finish it. Jackson Arnold, the No. 3 recruit in the 2023 class, made a strong push for the No. 1 ranking as a well-rounded player with a nice blend of arm strength, release and mobility. Whether or not he plays this season, he has the “it” factor, according to his coach, and gives the Sooners an elite talent in the wings to take over for 2024 with Heisman Trophy potential. On defense, perhaps no one has more upside than edge defender Adepoju Adebawore, who has excellent length and agility. He has so much ability that he could still make a Year 1 impact as a pass-rusher.

Top impact newcomers: OL Avery Jones (East Carolina transfer), OL Dillon Wade (Tulsa transfer), QB Payton Thorne (Michigan State transfer), RB Brian Battie (South Florida transfer), CB Kayin Lee (No. 181 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 21st

Hugh Freeze quickly elevated Auburn’s recruiting efforts, scoring late flips on the recruiting trail and utilizing the portal to try to bring the Tigers back above .500. With the offensive line being a position of need, Wade should immediately step into a starting role. Jones, who should boost the interior, transferred from East Carolina to Illinois, then reentered the portal and committed to Auburn. With leading rusher Tank Bigsby gone, enter Battie, a former All-American kick returner at USF who should replace some of the production lost.

QB Robby Ashford returns, but Michigan State transfer Thorne adds depth and could be the one to lead the offense with more experience and proven production. Keldric Faulk was one of Freeze’s 2023 class flips, pulling him away from Florida State. Between his talent and the need at defensive end, the ESPN 300 defender with good quickness could play a role in Year 1.

Long-term overview: A big first step back to SEC contention. The portal was not the only resource used to address the O-line. Onetime Miami commit and No. 3 rated center Connor Lew had a strong spring and could quickly work his way into the mix. If Thorne does replace Ashford, the positive is it gives the former ESPN 300 QB — who also was the Tigers’ second-leading rusher last season — more time to develop, as Ashford is only a sophomore. In-state signee Jeremiah Cobb can be a versatile addition to their RB stable, and top signee Lee is already showing flashes of being a key pickup and future starter.

Top impact newcomers: QB Dante Moore (No. 2 recruit), RB Carson Steele (Ball State transfer), WR J. Michael Sturdivant (Cal transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 31st

UCLA needs to replace multiyear starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson at QB, and it used both avenues to do that. Five-star QB Moore was a seismic flip late in the process from Oregon. A mobile and accurate passer with a quick release, he could be a plug-and-play answer under center. If Moore needs time to gain experience, Kent State transfer Collin Schlee brings that, having thrown for over 2,000 yards last season.

The Bruins’ top two rushers are gone, but Steele can be an immediate answer, as he was one of the nation’s leading rushers last season at Ball State. Sturdivant was one of the few bright spots for Cal last season with 65 catches. Transfer WR Kyle Ford from rival USC is a big target who can win contested matchups and looks to be another strong option for their new QB. UCLA also plucked one of Cal’s most productive defenders in LB Oluwafemi Oladejo, who brings proven production within the conference.

Long-term overview: Blending transfers and recruits seems to be the path forward. Chip Kelly has always had a unique approach to recruiting, and the Bruins are not a program usually at the top of the class rankings. Still, they added talent through a blend of transfers and high schoolers. Whether he starts Week 1 or not, Moore is one of the more talented QB prospects entering college football and gives this program a prospect with the tools to be one of the elite signal-callers over the coming seasons. Production and talent might allow Sturdivant to jump to the NFL after this season; if not, he still has a few years of eligibility available. Jeremiah McClure, an ESPN 300 signee, should benefit from the additions of Sturdivant and Ford and develop into UCLA’s next top target.

Top impact newcomers: WR Jamari Thrash (Georgia State transfer), CB Storm Duck (North Carolina transfer), DE Stephen Herron (Stanford transfer), WR Kevin Coleman Jr. (Jackson State transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 32nd

Jeff Brohm and his staff added a lot of experienced players through the portal while also addressing the Cardinals’ depth. With QB Malik Cunningham gone, they picked Jack Plummer, who spent the first part of his college career with Brohm at Purdue but threw for over 3,000 yards at Cal last year. Thrash (61 catches, 1,100 yards) might not be one of the most well-known names but is likely among Louisville’s biggest impact additions. Coleman was a big recruiting win for Deion Sanders and Jackson State as an ESPN 300 recruit in the 2022 cycle, and he makes the FBS jump after a productive freshman season.

After transferring from UNC to Penn State during the winter, Duck transferred to Louisville after being named a second-team All-ACC cornerback as a Tar Heel. Herron is another defender coming to Louisville off his most productive season, and the former Cardinal should immediately contribute up front.

Long-term overview: Don’t sleep on the talented youth. Transfer DBs Marquis Groves-Killebrew (Texas A&M) and Marcus Washington (Georgia) are 2022 ESPN 300 prospects who arrive with Power 5 tools and time on their side. QB Brady Allen follows Brohm from Purdue, where he was an ESPN 300 signee in the Boilermakers’ 2022 class. While the Cards added some talented underclassman prospects in the portal, they also signed some prospects to develop in their 2023 class. Adonijah Green is a lengthy DL with good quickness and a high ceiling for development. Coleman is only entering his second season as a college wideout, and 2023 ESPN 300 signee William Fowles was an early enrollee.

Top impact newcomers: WR Zakhari Franklin (UTSA transfer), DB John Saunders Jr. (Miami transfer), WR Tre Harris (Louisiana Tech transfer), LB Suntarine Perkins (No. 18 recruit), DT Joshua Harris (NC State transfer), TE Caden Prieskorn (Memphis transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 30th

The Rebels had one of the strongest transfer classes a year ago, landing players such as QB Jaxson Dart and RB Zach Evans. They returned to the portal to further stack their QB room with Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State) and Walker Howard (LSU). A multiyear starter with the Cowboys, Sanders brings experience and can also be a dual threat, having rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in his career. Whether either of them or Dart is the starter, Ole Miss has one of the deepest and most talented QB corps in the nation this season.

The wide receiver room is newly stacked too. Franklin committed to Ole Miss on Saturday as a two-time all-conference selection at UTSA. Another target to replace production lost in their passing attack is Tre Harris, who was an All-CUSA performer last season with 65 catches and 10 TDs. Losing multiple DBs led to the arrival of several more, including Zamari Walton (Georgia Tech) and Saunders, a versatile defender from Miami (Ohio) who had 13.5 tackles and a takeaway during the Rebels’ spring Grove Bowl. Joshua Harris, a high three-star DT from the 2019 class, can be a stout presence within their defensive line.

Long-term overview: Sticking with the portal is the formula. While running back Quinshon Judkins broke out as a freshman last year, not many freshmen might play a big role this season for the Rebels. But the exception could be in-state five-star Perkins, a versatile defender who also ran for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in the high school state title game. He reminds us of LSU’s outstanding freshman Harold Perkins Jr. and can have a similar impact. Howard likely won’t see the field this season but gives the Rebels an outstanding talent to develop under center.

Top impact newcomers: WR JoJo Earle (Alabama transfer), WR John Paul Richardson (Oklahoma State transfer) CB Avery Helm (Florida transfer), RB Trey Sanders (Alabama transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 19th

The Horned Frogs lost their top three pass-catchers, who combined for 132 receptions and 16 touchdowns, but they attacked the portal to restock their WR room. Richardson comes from conference rival Oklahoma State and looks poised to help pick up the lost production after a strong spring. Earle, a 2021 ESPN 300 prospect, returns home to Texas after a stint at Alabama. Injuries made it hard to get into a flow, but he has elite quickness and also can help in the return game.

TCU utilized the portal, as well as the junior college ranks, to further strengthen its secondary. Avery Helm (Florida) is a corner with good length, while Channing Canada and Mason White are the top two juco defensive backs.

Long-term overview: No stones left unturned to rebuild. From high school to the portal to the juco ranks, TCU replenished its roster from last year’s CFP team. A few of TCU’s transfer additions are one-and-done prospects, but that could allow a strong 2023 recruiting class time to develop. Carter could be needed in the rotation this fall but in time can be a productive starter, as he has active hands and plays with great effort. If transfer Tommy Brockermeyer (Alabama) can stay healthy and rise to expectations of being a former five-star recruit, he could give the Horned Frogs one of the top OTs in the conference for years to come.

Top impact newcomers: TE Var’Keyes Gumms (North Texas transfer), WR Isaac TeSlaa (Hillsdale transfer), OL Josh Braun (Florida transfer), TE Luke Hasz (No. 83 recruit), LB Antonio Grier (South Florida transfer), CB Jaheim Singletary (Georgia transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 22nd

The Razorbacks lost a lot of production in the passing game to the tune of 145 catches and 18 TDs among their top pass-catchers. No sure things arrive via the portal, as several prospects are making the jump up to the Power 5 level, but they add talent with production. TeSlaa is making the jump from Division II Hillsdale, where he was named the conference’s offensive player of the year (68 receptions, 1,325 yards, 13 TDs). Tyrone Broden is a big red zone target at 6-foot-7 who recorded 12 touchdowns for Bowling Green over the past two seasons.

Despite a strong history at tight end, the position was an area of need, especially with the loss of Trey Knox, but the Razorbacks addressed this well. Gumms could be an impact addition coming off all-conference season at North Texas. On the offensive line, Braun comes from SEC foe Florida and looks poised to assume a starting role in the trenches.

Long-term overview: Key contributors down the road. Aiding their tight end room is ESPN 300 prospect Hasz, who could work his way into the mix in Year 1. He needs to add mass this offseason but has excellent hands and is a tenacious blocker. The Razorbacks’ running back depth will likely keep Isaiah Augustave off the field early, but he’s a great fit in coach Sam Pittman’s system with a blend of size, speed and power. ESPN 300 CB Jaylon Braxton got reps this spring and should improve depth, and Carson Dean could develop into their next Bumper Pool at LB. Singletary was a highly touted 2022 ESPN 300 prospect who comes over from Georgia with time on his side.

Top impact newcomers: QB Devin Leary (NC State transfer), OL Marques Cox (Northern Illinois transfer), RB Ray Davis (Vanderbilt transfer), DL Keeshawn Silver (North Carolina transfer), OL Courtland Ford (USC transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 34th

The Wildcats have been no stranger to utilizing transfers to fill a need under center, and they have done so again this time, landing one of the most coveted targets in Leary. An injury cut his 2022 season short, but he was one of the most touted QBs after an outstanding 2021, when he threw for 3,433 yards and an NC State-record 35 touchdowns. Davis jumps from SEC foe Vanderbilt and gives Kentucky a proven 1,000-yard rusher (who ran for 129 yards against Kentucky last year).

Looking to bolster the O-line, the Wildcats brought in multiple big men via the portal. Tanner Bowles returns to his home state after signing with Alabama in 2019 and should immediately improve depth. Both starting tackles also are likely to come from the portal in Cox, who is coming off a strong spring, and more-recent addition Ford, who arrives from USC with two years of game experience under his belt.

Long-term overview: Promising youth on the perimeter. JQ Hardaway was an excellent addition via the portal. A talented three-star prospect in the 2022 class, he gained some game experience while at Cincinnati but comes to Kentucky with a high ceiling for development and highlights some youth in their secondary. Dane Key and Barion Brown made impacts as freshmen in Lexington, and two more young wide receivers — four-stars Anthony Brown and Shamar Porter — also could quickly contribute this season.

Top impact newcomers: OL LaDarius Henderson (Arizona State transfer), EDGE Josaiah Stewart (Coastal Carolina transfer), OL Drake Nugent (Stanford transfer), K James Turner (Louisville transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 17th

Michigan has become more active in the portal over the years, and while this incoming group of transfers is small, the Wolverines added several key players, some of whom held leadership roles at their previous schools. After winning the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line unit in back-to-back seasons, the Wolverines lost two starters but brought in three high-level options. Nugent, a former Stanford captain with 24 starts, should step in as a starter, while Henderson has made 30 starts in his career.

Even if his numbers dip a bit while jumping from Coastal Carolina to the Big Ten, Stewart should provide some pass-rushing presence, having notched 16 sacks with the Chanticleers. To replace drafted kicker Jake Moody, the Wolverines added one of the top specialists in the portal in Turner.

Long-term overview: Emerging talent on the horizon. Expect LB Ernest Hausmann to be in the mix after tallying 54 tackles as a true freshman for Nebraska last season. Stewart heads into his junior season, but several returning sophomores should see their roles grow, including DB Zeke Berry, LB Jimmy Rolder and EDGE Derrick Moore.

Top impact newcomers: LB Keenan Pili (BYU transfer), OL John Campbell Jr. (Miami transfer), DT Omarr Norman-Lott (Arizona State transfer), WR Dont’e Thornton (Oregon transfer), LB Arion Carter (No. 185 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 16th

Josh Heupel has quickly changed the perception of this program and is seeking to build off an 11-win season with a blend of transfers and recruits. Pili looks to lead the impact additions, as he was a two-time captain at BYU and among the Cougars’ leading tacklers when healthy. Campbell arrives from Miami with starting experience and is a strong candidate to fill a hole on an O-line that lost two key members in first-round draft pick Darnell Wright and Jerome Carvin.

Portal additions Norman-Lott, TE McCallan Castles (UC Davis) and Gabe Jeudy-Lally (BYU), who had spent time in the SEC at Vanderbilt earlier in his career, are all solid additions who should strengthen depth and play productive roles this season.

Long-term overview: QB of the future. Joe Milton III will likely be QB1, but highly touted signee Nicholaus Iamaleava could be viewed as QB1a. QB depth is limited on the Vols’ roster, so the ESPN 300 top-five QB prospect could play a role this season; if he doesn’t, he already has shown signs of being their QB of the future. Carter was a late riser on the recruiting trail after making the switch from RB to LB, and he looks like he could continue a quick ascent and be in the mix defensively in year one. Two of the Vols’ leading receivers are gone, and Thornton, despite minimal proven production, is a big 2021 ESPN 300 prospect who brings ability and eligibility, making him a player to watch. New additions via the 2023 class look to have the RB room in Knoxville deep in talent and primed for the future.

Top impact newcomers: S R.J. Moten (Michigan transfer), QB Graham Mertz (Wisconsin transfer), DL Cam’Ron Jackson (Memphis transfer), OG Knijeah Harris (No. 209 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 12th

The departure of Anthony Richardson to the NFL and the name, image and likeness (NIL) fallout with ESPN 300 Jaden Rashada left an unsettled vacancy at QB. That role will very likely be filled by a former four-star prospect via the portal. Onetime Ohio State signee Jack Miller III was in the program last season, and he battles new transfer Graham Mertz. While no starter has been named, Mertz brings more experience as a multiyear starter at Wisconsin.

A high three-star signee by Memphis in the 2020 cycle, Jackson was a nice DL addition, as he is an active big man who can command attention and help those around him. Another key addition to the Gators’ defense is Moten, who started 15 games and made two CFP appearances for Michigan.

Long-term overview: Talent is there. The Gators signed a strong class that includes likely early contributors and long-term help. Four-star Jordan Castell showed promising signs in the spring and could be in the rotation in the secondary with 2022 five-star Kamari Wilson. A healthy Eugene Wilson III will be tough to keep on the sideline, and WR Andy Jean is showing flashes of a player who could quickly get in the mix. ESPN 300 interior OL Harris comes ready to step in from Florida’s IMG Academy and looks poised to grab a starting role, if not at least be a key contributor up front.

Top impact newcomers: QB Tanner Mordecai (SMU transfer), WR CJ Williams (USC transfer), OL Joe Huber (Cincinnati transfer), DB Jason Maitre (Boston College transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 49th

Wisconsin’s reputation for a strong ground game might be ready to be supplemented with a potent passing element, as the Badgers landed one of the top QBs from the portal. Former Oklahoma and SMU QB Mordecai has thrown for over 7,000 yards and 70 TDs. Williams was a 2022 ESPN 300 prospect, and he looks primed to be a key player in their passing attack after a nice spring and still has time on his side.

Offensive linemen Huber and Jake Renfro follow coach Luke Fickell from Cincinnati and should play big roles in the trenches. Renfro was a steal when the Bearcats signed him in 2020, and if healthy, he could now be huge for the Badgers at center. Maitre’s versatility should lead to him being a factor this season in Wisconsin’s secondary.

Long-term overview: Time will tell. After elevating Cincinnati’s recruiting status, expect Fickell to do the same at Wisconsin. Mordecai grabbed headlines, but OC Phil Longo might have found his high-powered QB of the future via the portal in Braedyn Locke, a four-star who spent his freshman season with Mississippi State. Will Pauling is another wide receiver to watch who comes over via the portal with some eligibility left. Incoming freshmen Jonas Duclona and four-star Jace Arnold could play a role in the secondary. Four-star LB Tyler Jansey has promise and could develop into a key versatile defender.

Top impact newcomers: WR Kaden Prather (West Virginia transfer), WR Tyrese Chambers (Florida International transfer), DT Jordan Phillips (Tennessee transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 33rd

Maryland added some weapons for returning productive QB Taulia Tagovailoa. Prather returns home after a stint at West Virginia, where the 2021 ESPN 300 prospect had 52 catches last season, and Chambers — a Maryland native — tallied 96 catches for 1,628 yards and 13 scores in two seasons at FIU. Both players look primed to step in after strong spring performances.

Donnell Brown is making the jump from the FCS level (Saint Francis), and he didn’t participate in the spring game, but he is a disruptive defensive threat who totaled 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last season.

Long-term overview: Watch the defense. This is a class that could have been ranked higher if some commitments broke their way, but the Terps still added talent to build on. Phillips, who redshirted his freshman season, has limited game experience but arrives with a lot of promise and eligibility. Incoming freshmen Neeo Avery, Dylan Gooden and Dillan Fontus are all front-seven defenders who, along with Phillips, can give the Terps strong young nucleus.

Top impact newcomers: QB Drew Pyne (Notre Dame transfer), WR Xavier Guillory (Idaho State transfer), RB Cameron Skattebo (Sacramento State transfer), DB Xavion Alford (USC transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 46th

Several new faces are in the QB room, and while Pyne is no sure winner, he can give a rebuilding Sun Devils program a steady and experienced performer at the position. A pair of FCS additions could help boost the offense. Guillory brings some vertical speed, and he tallied nearly 100 catches in two seasons at Idaho State.

If his performance in the spring game is any indication, Skattebo could be a breakout performer. A 1,000-yard rusher at FCS playoff program Sacramento State, he was the Big Sky player of the year and should see plenty of touches in Tempe.

Long-term overview: Work in progress. Poor on-field play and poor results on the recruiting trail led to a coaching change, but Kenny Dillingham is working on changing the program’s direction. He might have gotten his QB of the future in Jaden Rashada after he was released from his national letter of intent with Florida. Rashada gives the Sun Devils a QB with a smooth release and good arm strength to develop. The trenches are key, and DL signees Ashley Williams, who brings a good motor, and C.J. Fite, who could play a role in their rotation this season, are quickly showing signs of being good building blocks out of this class.

Top impact newcomers: CB Davison Igbinosun (Ole Miss transfer), S Ja’Had Carter (Syracuse transfer), WR Carnell Tate (No. 241 recruit), OL Josh Simmons (San Diego State transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: ninth

Already a CFP contender, the Buckeyes’ additions should propel them right back into the race. Despite their rich history of elite DBs, they upgraded the secondary via the portal in Carter, an experienced and productive safety at Syracuse, and Igbinosun, a freshman All-American selection at Ole Miss with plenty of eligibility remaining.

The O-line needed upgrades after losing three starters, and the Buckeyes addressed that, as well. Victor Cutler (Louisiana-Monroe) adds valuable versatility and depth to the unit, and Simmons is a promising redshirt sophomore who could grab a starting role this season.

Long-term overview: Consistently recruiting at a high level. Tate is already creating positive buzz, and WR Brandon Inniss could be tough to keep out of the mix as he brings a strong work ethic and focus. Igbinosun, DT Tywone Malone (Ole Miss), Simmons and DB Lorenzo Styles are all high-caliber portal additions who come with a few years of eligibility.

Top impact newcomers: WR Dominic Lovett (Missouri transfer), WR Rara Thomas (Mississippi State transfer), EDGE Damon Wilson (No. 35 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: second

Three of the Bulldogs’ four leading pass-catchers last season were their tight ends and running back, but they pulled out of the portal two potential key targets. Lovett was the top target from SEC foe Missouri, and he figures to quickly play a role in Athens. Thomas, who was arrested on a felony charge shortly after his arrival in January, is another go-to target after totaling 626 yards and seven TDs last year.

An explosive player off the edge, Wilson should play a role as at least a situational pass-rusher early on. He had two sacks in their spring game. Georgia added depth behind elite tight end Brock Bowers through signee Lawson Luckie, an ESPN 300 recruit who was on campus for the spring.

Long-term overview: No signs of slipping. Several members of Georgia’s seventh straight top-three recruiting class should play a role this year as potential impact performers down the road. If his performance during Under Armour All-America week was an indication, the sideline-to-sideline presence of LB Raylen Wilson will be tough to keep off the field. Joenel Aguero‘s blend of speed and physicality could make him one of Georgia’s next top defenders.

Top impact newcomers: QB Tyler Buchner (Notre Dame transfer), WR Malik Benson (No. 1 junior college prospect), S Caleb Downs (No. 11 recruit), RB Justice Haynes (No. 24 recruit)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: first

Replacing Bryce Young will be extremely difficult. Buchner brings experience and reunites with his former OC at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees. Benson will present a big-play target with speed, promise and impact ability.

A 2019 ESPN 300 prospect, LB Trezmen Marshall comes over from Georgia after having contributed to its two title runs. Jaylen Key wasn’t a high-profile addition from UAB, but he arrives in Tuscaloosa with experience, versatility and depth in the secondary.

Long-term overview: Flush with talent. We’ll see some of the 23 ESPN 300 prospects in Bama’s class sooner rather than later. Alabama signed the top two running backs, and while Richard Young can be physical, the more versatile Haynes looks ready to contribute first, especially after a strong spring performance. Downs, the top safety prospect, could be in the mix quickly. Five-star OT Kadyn Proctor is a powerful and agile big man who could lock down a starting role.

Top impact newcomers: CB Jabbar Muhammad (Oklahoma State transfer), RB Dillon Johnson (Mississippi State transfer), WR Germie Bernard (Michigan State transfer), LB Ralen Goforth (USC transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 28th

Kalen DeBoer jump-started this program, as the Huskies ascended from four wins to 11 in 2022, and he added enough players to prevent any regression. Three of their top four recruits project to the secondary, and they bolstered that unit via the portal in Muhammad, who brings experience and was a productive starter for the Cowboys last season. They also dipped into the juco ranks by adding ESPN JC 50 CB Thaddeus Dixon.

On offense, they brought in two RBs with Power 5 experience in Daniyel Ngata, who has 689 career rushing yards with Arizona State, and Dillon Johnson, who totaled nearly 1,200 yards in three seasons with Mississippi State and should command touches this fall.

Long-term overview: Don’t sleep on UW. The Huskies signed one of the better classes in the Pac-12, thanks in part to 2023 signee Landen Hatchett, a tough in-state addition who performed well during Under Armour All-America week. He should work his way into the two-deep and develop into an anchor on their O-line. WR Germie Bernard was once committed to the Huskies during the 2022 recruiting cycle, flipped to Michigan State then transferred to Washington. The former ESPN 300 prospect had a good spring, and he looks ready to contribute.

Top impact newcomers: DL Andre Carter (Western Michigan transfer), QB Tayven Jackson (Tennessee transfer), WR Dequece Carter (Fordham transfer), DL Marcus Burris Jr. (Texas A&M transfer)

2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 74th

Quality D-linemen are hard to find, and Carter, a highly productive defender with seven sacks last season, was a huge score for the Hoosiers. Burris and Philip Blidi (Texas Tech) also look like strong additions to their defense coming out of the spring. ESPN JC 50 S Tyrik McDaniel appears to be one of several new faces who could contribute to the secondary this season.

The QB job will not be handed over, but Jackson is Indiana’s most talented option as a 2022 four-star prospect and has time to develop. Carter was the go-to guy in Fordham’s explosive offense, totaling 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

Long-term overview: Work needs to be done. The Hoosiers finished last in the Big Ten in the recruiting rankings, but portal additions should help bridge the gap. Jackson is still young and has a lot of promise. High three-star 2023 signee Broc Lowry also brings tools to develop, giving their QB room promise. On special teams, Indiana signed one of the nation’s top kicking prospects in Nicolas Radicic.

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