As with every season, players transfer in and out of schools trying to find the next opportunity. This season is no different. Who will be the transfers who have the biggest impact this season?
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
Patterson decided to leave Ole Miss for greener pastures at Michigan. In two seasons at Ole Miss, Patterson played 10 games, throwing for 3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He will be the best quarterback Michigan has had under Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan has needed a quarterback to lead the offense for some time and Patterson could be the solution. He will have the highly-touted sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones to throw to and three offensive linemen returning in front of him. With the defense shaping up to have another good season, if Patterson can inject even a little bit of life to the offense, the Wolverines will be a dangerous team.
While Michigan does have a brutal schedule, including games against Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State, if Patterson plays well, they could find themselves in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Byron Cowart, DE, Maryland
He was one of the most sought-after recruits in his class, but things never really panned out for Cowart at Auburn. A culture change might be just what he needs to get his career back on track.
While he may not have been good enough to see the field at Auburn, he should be able to get on the field and make a difference at Maryland. The Terrapins will have two solid pass rushers in Cowart and Jesse Aniebonam. Cowart will have two years of eligibility left to leave his mark.
Competing in the Big Ten East is a stretch, but if they can get after the quarterback, they might be able to pull off an upset or two.
Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
Hurd’s name may sound familiar because he used to play running back at Tennessee. As a Volunteer, he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’ll have one year of eligibility left, but has decided to change positions in order to increase his NFL potential.
While changing positions this late in a college career, Hurd is a player that can make it work. He is 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, which in most cases is too big to be a tailback. With that size, he can be a legitimate threat in the red zone.
Baylor still has a long way to go in their rebuild, but Hurd can help expedite the process.
Casey Tucker, OT, Arizona State
Tucker is a graduate transfer who has his degree from Stanford. He is used to the rigors of the Pac-12 schedule and will be one of the best, and most experienced, linemen in college football. Herm Edwards should be glad to have Tucker on the team to help generate some offense.
The offensive line returns three starters and gets Tucker, so they should have a great unit next year. If the defense can improve, Arizona State can make a bowl game, but even with Tucker, that will be easier said than done.
Travon McMillan, RB, Colorado
Another graduate transfer on this list, McMillan has plenty of reps running the football at Virginia Tech. He has accrued 2,158 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns in his career. He figures to be the starter in Colorado and will provide a boost to the offense.
McMillan can help improve the 74th ranked rushing offense from last season. With not much talent returning it will be tough for Colorado to make a bowl game. If they do qualify, it will be because they had a good running game provided by McMillan.
Saivion Smith, CB, Alabama
Alabama and JUCO transfers don’t usually go together, but Smith is a former LSU commit. Smith was one of the top cornerbacks in the country in his recruiting class before enrolling in JUCO. Through JUCO he now has his career back on track and is joining the Alabama dynasty.
Smith will get his chance to start this season, as Alabama lost almost all of their key defensive players to the NFL. The secondary will be entirely new starters and Smith can step in from day one and play well. He will play in big games for Alabama this year and if he can hold up, Alabama can win another title.
Jonathan Giles, WR, LSU
Giles is going from the pass-happy offense at Texas Tech to LSU. In his last year as a Red Raider, he had 1,158 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. His great sophomore season has allowed him to get an opportunity at LSU and in the SEC.
LSU will need Giles to catch passes, as Fabian Moreau, their tight end, is their leading returning receiver. Giles will be tasked with breaking in Myles Brennan at quarterback. New offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger doesn’t have too many returning starters, but has some talent to work with. LSU should be able to win around eight or nine games this season, even if they aren’t contenders nationally.
Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame
Gilman is the rare transfer from Navy to Notre Dame. In his one season at Navy he had 76 total tackles, five sacks, five passes defended, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one touchdown. He sat out last season for the Fighting Irish, but Brian Kelly said he would’ve started last season, had he been eligible.
Notre Dame’s defense was solid last year, but with nine returning starters, and Gilman, the Fighting Irish will need to have a great defense this season. If the defense plays up to their potential, Gilman will be playing in some big games throughout the season.