With the new rules allowing NCAA athletes to transfer one time in their career without sitting out a season and monetize their name and likeness, the 2022 college football transfer portal was the hottest it has ever been.
Some programs cleaned up in the transfer portal, securing the services of multiple high-level starters to help their team for 2022 and possibly beyond. Other programs lost a heap of talent and will now be looking for players to step up.
Here are the five biggest winners from the 2022 transfer portal cycle.
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1. USC TROJANS
Notable Additions: QB Caleb Williams (Oklahoma), WR Mario Williams (Oklahoma), RB Travis Dye (Oregon), CB Mekhi Blackmon (Colorado), CB Latrell McCutchin (Oklahoma), RB Austin Jones (Stanford), WR Brenden Rice (Colorado), WR Terrell Bynum (Washington), EDGE Romello Height (Auburn), LB Shane Lee (Alabama)
No program has improved morale more than the USC Trojans in the last few months. The program made a power play by poaching head coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma, and the ramifications from that hire have been significant — both from a recruiting and transfer standpoint.
Riley brought Caleb Williams and Mario Williams with him from Oklahoma, two of the best players at their respective positions in the country.
Caleb Williams showcased elite physical tools on his way to a 91.3 PFF grade in 2021, breaking Trevor Lawrence’s record for the highest single-season mark by a true freshman quarterback in the PFF College era.
There were times when Williams made things a little bit more complicated than they needed to be, always looking for the home run downfield. Because of that, he was often volatile, putting up four passing grades below 70.0 since taking over for Spencer Rattler against Texas.
Learning when to check down and not holding onto the ball too long are areas of emphasis for him in 2022. His 3.51-second average time to throw and 29.2% rate of quarterback-fault pressures were both among the three highest marks in the Power Five. Still, he boasts top-tier tools and mechanics, making him capable of producing at an elite level despite lacking polish.
Mario Williams was reliable for the Oklahoma Sooners, and now he will be joining Lincoln Riley at Southern Cal for 2022 and beyond. He was one of five Power Five wide receivers to see at least 40 targets and drop none of them. The 5-foot-9, 186-pounder primarily lined up outside and had no issue going one-on-one in single coverage. In all, he earned a 79.2 receiving grade for the 2021 season.
One of the most underrated transfer additions in this cycle was Mekhi Blackmon from Colorado. His 83.0 coverage grade since 2020 trails only Kyler Gordon and Trent McDuffie of Washington — both of whom are off to the NFL this year — among Pac-12 cornerbacks.
Notable Additions: RB Zach Evans (TCU), QB Jaxson Dart (USC), TE Michael Trigg (USC), LB Troy Brown (Central Michigan), OT Mason Brooks (Western Kentucky), S Isheem Young (Iowa State), EDGE Jared Ivey (Georgia Tech), DI J.J. Pegues (Auburn), WR Malik Heath (Mississippi State)
Dart was volatile in the short time he spent on the field for USC during his true freshman campaign, earning a 73.6 passing grade while producing the same number of big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays (9) across 200 dropbacks. His decision-making was shaky, but Kiffin’s offense should help him develop in that department.