College News & Analysis

Five best college football linebackers in the transfer portal

Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker Justin Wright (30) runs back an interception for a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State’s Francisco Mauigoa: The true sophomore is the top linebacker in the portal.

Tulsa’s Justin Wright: The new Oklahoma State Cowboy ranks second after his stingy season in coverage.

Washington State’s Travion Brown: Arizona State’s new linebacker has dominated in coverage over the past two seasons.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins

With more than 1,300 college football players in the transfer portal, it can be difficult to parse through all the talent. But PFF's advanced stats for 354 teams ranging from the FBS to Division III aim to do exactly that.

After going over our top 25 players in the transfer portal as well as our All-Transfer Portal team, here are the five best linebackers searching for new homes.


1. Francisco Mauigoa (Washington State Cougars)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

As just a true sophomore, Francisco Mauigoa was the Pac-12’s second-highest-graded linebacker, earning a 75.8 mark.

One school to keep an eye out for Mauigoa is Miami (FL). That’s because his younger brother, Francis, is currently committed to the Hurricanes as a top-five recruit and the No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation, according to On3’s consensus ratings


2. Justin Wright (Tulsa Golden Hurricane)

Transfer Destination: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Wright’s 79.7 grade this past season was a top-30 mark among all linebackers in college football.

The redshirt senior was especially stingy in coverage, picking off two passes and breaking up a couple more. He also made 13 coverage stops, which ranked in the top 25 for all linebackers in the country. Wright will join Oklahoma State next season with one year of eligibility remaining.


3. Travion Brown (Washington State Cougars)

Transfer Destination: Arizona State Sun Devils

Brown’s 75.6 coverage grade over the past two seasons is a top-25 mark among Power Five linebackers. 

The junior has allowed only 172 receiving yards in that span, the fifth fewest for Power Five linebackers. Brown will stay in the Pac-12 next year, as he’s transferring to Arizona State. 


4. Nick Jackson (Virginia Cavaliers)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

Jackson excels downhill, leading all Power Five defenders with 96 run-defense stops over the past three seasons. 

As a blitzer this season, his 84.0 pass-rushing grade placed 11th among Power Five linebackers. The senior got home with five sacks on only 43 pass-rushing snaps.


5. Amari Gainer (Florida State Seminoles)

Transfer Destination: Undecided

Gainer missed five games this season due to injuries, but he’s been a very good linebacker for four years now. 

His 82.9 run-defense grade since 2019 ranks fifth among active Power Five linebackers. If he can stay healthy, he should provide a major boost on defense to his next school.

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