If you missed the first edition of the transfer portal tracker you can find it right here. It has an explanation of the rating system used so I’m not going to repeat it here. No time. A score of approximately 60.0 is generally the lower limit for a transfer who you should expect to come in and be a starter/heavy depth player.
Washington’s Portal Haul
It has been a very busy last 10 days in the portal since my last update. I had about 15 names to watch for the Huskies at that time and 6 of them ended up signing with Washington on Wednesday. A 7th name that was off the radar ended up signing on Thursday. I’d like to take credit for the success rate as some type of great achievement but some of them, like Germie Bernard, had very obvious ties to Washington and some, like Joe Moore III, had tweeted out UW’s interest to put them on my radar. Still, a good first showing for the inaugural Husky Watch tracker.
Now we get to take stock of how well Washington actually did (they could still add more via the portal but the vast majority should be done now). Based both on my rankings and the profile of the players I think we can break down the adds into 4 tiers.
INSTANT STARTER- Oklahoma State CB Jabbar Muhammad (77.2 grade)
There’s no question that the latest and stealthiest of UW’s acquisitions is also the most important. Muhammad started every game for a team that was ranked for much of the season and made Honorable Mention All-Big 12. He tied for the 3rd best coverage grade at Pro Football Focus among Big 12 cornerbacks. That total would’ve been 5th in the Pac-12 just behind likely future 1st round pick, Christian Gonzalez from Oregon. Muhammad is the one player UW brought in who was a clear above average starter at a power conference level and should be able to step in with no concern about projecting as at least an average starter for Washington. And that it comes at the position of greatest concern for Washington heading into the offseason is a nice extra bonus.
YOUNG BUT TALENTED- Arizona State RB Daniyel Ngata (75.7) and Michigan State WR Germie Bernard (71.6)
Ngata has 2 extra years in college than Bernard but the fact remains these are a pair of mid-4-star skill position players who didn’t get the chance to start at their previous school. At Arizona State the last 2 years Ngata played behind a 2nd team and 1st team all-conference player at running back. That means he could be pretty darn good and still not have gotten as many carries as he would at most programs. Their running style isn’t the same but Ngata’s production to this point in his career is almost identical to Sean McGrew at the same stage. If Ngata can come in and at a minimum match McGrew then I think Dawg fans will be happy with the pickup.
Bernard is of course an interesting case because of the whole commitment, de-commitment, play each other, transfer back, play each other again element which almost certainly is unique in early portal history. Even though Bernard didn’t start as a true freshman he still played about 5x as many snaps as you’d expect for the average first-year player. He didn’t show anything in his time at Michigan State to suggest he can’t be the high level contributor we expected when he initially signed with UW last December. Especially given how Deboer and Grubb’s system seemingly elevated the play of Odunze, McMillan, and Polk.
VETERAN DEFENSIVE DEPTH- Arizona State Edge Joe Moore III (66.0), USC LB Ralen Goforth (58.0)
Moore was above my 60.0 threshold for someone who could reasonably come in and expect to start for most teams. However he’s coming to a Washington team that will already have Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui at the edge spots. Still, the Huskies like to rotate at that position and 3 guys played heavy minutes last year plus a 4th a consistent 10-12 snaps per game. Moore had his best game of the year against the Huskies which makes this slightly worrisome (Aaron Dumas anyone?) but he was at least an average Pac-12 starter last year and so at worst gives the Dawgs experienced depth.
It’s a slightly different story for Goforth. His PFF grades are pretty bad from USC which is why he falls short of a starter’s grade despite being fairly highly recruited and playing a lot of games for the Trojans. It’s possible he comes in and starts at UW but it’s much more likely he’s veteran depth that raises the floor of the linebacker unit if injuries hit.
LOWER LEVEL LOTTERY TICKETS- Cal Poly TE Josh Cuevas (58.3), Sioux Falls Edge Zach Durfee (56.7)
Washington is bringing in a pair of players moving up quite a bit in competition. The most translatable should be Josh Cuevas who is coming from the FCS level but played in the tough Big Sky. The best game of his career came in the 2nd to last game of the season against eventual Semifinalist Montana State when he caught 9 of 10 targets for 129 yards and 2 TDs. With 3 years of eligibility remaining he’ll have a chance to compete for the 3rd tight end spot behind Culp/Westover this year and then step into a major role in 2024 once both graduate.
The bigger question mark is Durfee who has a compelling story for why he might have been supremely overlooked but also has just one year of film at the D-2 level. I didn’t have snap counts and PFF grades since they don’t cover D-2 so I had to make some estimates based on his counting stats. That means my system basically isn’t set up to account for D-2 transfers and if Durfee ends up a star or a bust it wouldn’t particularly surprise me. But with 3 years of eligibility left and recognizable high upside he’s a worthy take.
Pac-12 2023 Transfer Portal Standings
Right now I have the Huskies as essentially tied for 2nd in the Pac-12 and 3rd overall in the transfer portal when you not only consider what they’ve brought in but also what they’ve lost. My cutoff period includes Emeka Megwa and Jordan Lolohea as losses but the only true potential contributor the Huskies saw leave was safety Cam Williams (Georgia Southern). And the way his season went made it clear the new staff didn’t think he was a starter-level player in their system despite some prior success.
A warning though that this is likely the high point for Washington’s grade. The Dawgs currently have 91 players on scholarship. No one has declared early for the draft. That means at least 6 more players need to enter the portal to make room and that goes up to 8 if UW puts their walk-on kicker and punter on scholarship. Expect a flurry of activity in that regard after the bowl game. Although we may not see that average outgoing player total go up if the transfers continue to come primarily from guys buried on the depth chart.
Colorado takes the prize for my #1 portal team in the Pac-12 this season so far in a reversal of last year when they were 12th (TCU is #1 overall right now with only one portal entrant so far leading up to their CFP game but 4 big adds). The Buffs have both my #1 and #2 overall players in the portal with CB Travis Hunter and QB Shedeur Sanders following Deion from Jackson State.
I’ll admit that I think my system has the potential to overrate legitimate FBS prospects who start out at the FCS level. PFF grades and snap counts don’t account for level of competition differences. Normally if someone dominates at FCS their transfer grade is kept down by virtue of the fact they were probably not as highly rated of a recruit. When an elite recruit chooses to play FCS and dominates straight away there’s really no adjustment accounting for the difference of starting as a true freshman at Jackson State versus Florida State. It’ll be something to monitor for next year’s transfer rankings if Hunter and/or Sanders struggle at Colorado.
UCLA is the other school basically tied with the Huskies as they have brought in 5 potential starters with each between a 60.9 and 68.1 transfer grade. They’ve also only lost one piece of much consequence with DL Tyler Manoa (67.9) as everyone else entering the portal has either never or hardly ever played for the Bruins before despite being around a while.
Technically Oregon leads in the average incoming transfer recruit grade. That may be an undersell even as many outlets with a more subjective grading system have Rhode Island OL Ajani Cornelius (66.8) as a top-5 portal player. There’s a chance Alabama CB Khyree Jackson (63.8) comes off the bench but otherwise it’s likely been adding a starting receiver, linebacker, and 2 O-linemen for Oregon so far. Of their 16 exits to the portal, so far only 4 joined a power conference school although a 5th is likely to do so eventually.
Another shorthand way of judging activity in the portal so far is this handy chart.
Teams in the upper right are ones who have brought in more talent than the average team and also not lost as much. Your list of portal winners should come from this quadrant which from the Pac-12 has: Washington, UCLA, USC, and Colorado (just barely).
Teams in the lower right are the ones who really haven’t done much of anything in the portal one way or the other and from the Pac-12 includes Utah and Oregon State.
Teams in the upper left have been very busy in the portal with a lot of turnover that could be interpreted as either good or bad depending on the unique circumstances at each school. Those Pac-12 schools are: Arizona State, Oregon, and Cal.
Finally the bottom left is where the schools are that have taken a ton of hits via the portal but haven’t brought in much talent to replace them. If you’re looking for your portal losers list then it should come from this quadrant. The Pac-12 nominees are: Stanford, Arizona, and Washington State.
If you want to look through all of the rankings yourself you can go scroll through here and go into the dashboard to look in a bigger browser.