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2022 College Football Transfer Portal Update: Top 10 biggest winners and most notable “quiet” teams

Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The college football transfer portal smoke has largely cleared, but it will return in the next month or so after the completion of spring practice before the May 1 deadline.

Until we get there, an update is in order on one of the craziest transfer cycles in history. The following are the 10 biggest winners from the transfer portal so far, along with the most notable teams that have largely avoided adding via the portal. 

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10 BIGGEST WINNERS SO FAR

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)

Notable Losses: QB Kedon Slovis, QB Jaxson Dart, TE Michael Trigg

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 Caleb 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.

2. OLE MISS REBELS

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)

Notable Losses: S Keidron Smith, LB MoMo Sanogo, RB Henry Parrish Jr.

Lane Kiffin — also known as “The Portal King” — has soothed the significant loss of quarterback Matt Corral by grabbing 2021 top-100 recruit Jaxson Dart out of the college free agency pool.

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.

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