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January Pac-12 Transfer Rankings Part II

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We look at schools 6 through 1 for who has benefited most from the portal so far this offseason

Valero Alamo Bowl - Oregon v Oklahoma Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Yesterday I came out with part one of the January Pac-12 Transfer Rankings. You can click on that link if you missed it to go back and read through the methodology involved but if you just want the cliff notes then here’s an approximation of what a given point total on a 0-100 scale means.

90-100: Former starter that’s a lock to start at new school and likely to perform at an all-conference level.

75-89: Very likely starter at new school who was at least a mid-tier recruit, former starter, and above average performer.

60-74: Probable starter at new school who has 2⁄3 of recruit ranking, playing time, or high performance but not all 3.

45-59: Clear rotation player at new school but at least one major hole on their resume.

31-44: Likely depth piece that has seen at least some on-field action but either is a former walk-on or didn’t start at their previous spot.

0-30: Wildcard that saw little to no playing time at previous stop but could have been a former highly rated recruit.

So without any further ado, here’s part 2 of the Pac-12 transfer rankings starting with a pair of schools from Oregon and finishing out with a whole lot of Pac-12 South.

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6. Oregon State Beavers, -110 Points

Highest Rated Addition: EDGE Andrew Chatfield (from Florida) 64 points

Highest Rated Departure: WR Champ Flemings (uncommitted), 50 points

Total Additions: 1 with average grade of 64.0

Total Departures: 6 with average grade of 29.0

Before the immediate eligibility transfer rule was put into place, Oregon State was one of the original schools heavily reliant on transfers. Jonathan Smith built up the Beavers from the dregs of power conference teams into a fully respectable program in part by bringing back west coast players that were highly talented coming out of high school but hadn’t made their mark wandering east to go to college. It’s a little surprising then that the Beavers have been the least transfer-focused school in the conference this offseason. Maybe a zag while the rest of them zig approach?

The lone addition is Andrew Chatfield who was solid as a reserve at Florida and is a former 4-star recruit. He should help reinforce the pass rush for the Beavers this season. The losses meanwhile are extremely minimal. Undersized dynamo Champ Flemings is moving on which is a hit to OSU’s special teams and gadget plays. Only one of the 6 departures though is committed and they are headed to Boise State. Flemings is the only one that played more than 375 total snaps in their career for OSU. None of them had better than a 65.0 grade from Pro Football Focus. The average of 29.0 for departures is the lowest in the Pac-12 and a sign that Smith managed to keep hold of just about every player on the roster for which he saw a future in a Beaver uniform.

5. Oregon Ducks, -100 Points

Highest Rated Addition: QB Bo Nix (from Auburn), 93 points

Highest Rated Departure: RB Travis Dye (to USC), 78 points

Total Additions: 5 with average grade of 61.8

Total Departures: 9 with average grade of 40.6

Oregon’s interactions with the portal have been reasonably similar to Washington. They’ve lost 9 players but 5 of them played 25 or fewer career snaps for the Ducks and while maybe they thrive in their next stop it’s certainly no guarantee. Although 4 of those players ended up at Miami, Florida State, BYU, and Auburn so it’s not as if they weren’t in demand. DL Jayson Jones (45 pts) was a rotational lineman for the Ducks and showed flashes but didn’t grade out well by PFF. Still, he’s headed to Auburn so again it’s not as if he had to go to the Mountain West to find a potential starting spot.

The other 3 losses were a much bigger deal. Travis Dye was one of the best running backs in the conference at Oregon and should remain one of the best running backs in the Pac-12, just at USC next year. Corner DJ James (74 pts) was a perfectly solid starting option and is the 3rd member of Oregon to transfer Auburn this offseason. Finally, WR Mycah Pittman (71 pts) never fully lived up to expectations but was at least an average wide receiver option who is headed to Florida State.

The additions aren’t numerous but most should play huge roles this season. Husky fans are well familiar with Taki Taimani who may not start only because Oregon returns a pair of very good defensive tackles next year. The addition at quarterback is Bo Nix who ironically defeated Oregon with a last second comeback in his first ever college start. My grading system had Nix as the 2nd highest transfer in this cycle which I personally don’t agree with but that’s what the system says. Nix has pretty consistently been able to put forth about 2,500 passing yards, 15 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 300 rushing yards, and 5 rushing TDs for Auburn in a run first offense against SEC defenses. Those numbers are perfectly reasonable but was never better than 3rd team all-SEC. Nix is an upgrade over Anthony Brown but doesn’t exactly become an instant Heisman contender now that he’s in Eugene.

Oregon’s final major addition is Colorado safety Christian Gonzalez (79 pts) who finished 3rd on the Buffs’ defense in PFF grade this past season. He should slot in as an instant starter in the Oregon secondary. More recently Oregon added a Nebraska DT transfer (40 pts) who has a massive frame but much less experience than Taimani and with worse results on the field. The final addition is Wazzu kicker Andrew Boyle (15 pts) who will presumably challenge for their starting spot.

4. Utah Utes, -66 Points

Highest Rated Addition: LB Mohamoud Diabate (from Florida), 68 points

Highest Rated Departure: QB Charlie Brewer (to Liberty), 80 points

Total Additions: 3 with average grade of 44.7

Total Departures: 5 with average grade of 40.0

It hardly feels like Utah has been involved in the portal. They find themselves here by virtue of not losing much as opposed to bringing in a bunch of key pieces. By far their highest rated departure was QB Charlie Brewer but unfortunately there’s no built-in adjustment for me to factor in that he essentially quit on the team in the first month and cost them games that otherwise might’ve had the Utes in playoff contention. For the 2nd straight year the transfer Utah brought in to be its option at QB is someone Utah fans will be happy to see gone. But the excellent play at Baylor that made him the preseason starter for Utah are still on the resume so he still gets an 80.0 grade.

Besides Brewer none of the other Utah losses were graded higher than 50 points which was the score for EDGE Xavier Carlton, now at California. Offensive lineman Simi Moala played extensively for the Utes but graded out poorly by Pro Football Focus and was likely to lose his spot in the rotation. 3rd string quarterback Peter Costelli (26 pts) saw the writing on the wall with the emergence of Cam Rising and so the former 4-star is on his way out with no career snaps.

With only 3 total additions there clearly wasn’t much room for Utah to meaningfully impact things but they added a few depth pieces. Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate was an average level performer per PFF but was an SEC starter and there is a giant hole to fill in the Utes defense with the loss of Devin Lloyd. Utah also bulked up their tight end room with Idaho transfer Logan Kendall (59 pts) who put up good results at the FCS level but was a 2-star recruit coming out of high school. Landon Morris (7 pts) from Syracuse was an eyebrow raiser since he was a low 3-star recruit who didn’t see the field as a true freshman WR/TE but clearly has the measurables to play in Utah’s tight end friendly offense.

3. UCLA Bruins, -24 Points

Highest Rated Addition: WR Jake Bobo (from Duke), 72 points

Highest Rated Departure: CB Jay Shaw (to Wisconsin), 78 points

Total Additions: 6 with average grade of 63.7

Total Departures: 14 with average grade of 33.6

There was a lot of attrition on the UCLA roster but despite the negative score here it’s tough to say that the Bruins got worse so far in this portal season. UCLA narrowly had the 3rd lowest average grade for their departing transfers of any Pac-12 school. They had 14 players leave but 7 of them had played either 0 or 1 career snaps. All 7 of those players either are still uncommitted or are dropping down to a group of 5 school. Chip Kelly’s recruiting had some issues the past 4 seasons and that is evident by the number of recruits who couldn’t crack a Pac-12 rotation and are now headed elsewhere.

Among the other 7 there are a few real losses. Jay Shaw was rated as the 3rd best corner in the conference by PFF this season only behind the Husky duo of McDuffie and Gordon. He started the year as a reserve before moving into the starting lineup the second half of the season and excelling which is what kept him off an all-conference team. WR Chase Cota (66 pts) was a 4-year contributor for the Bruins but he just was never very good when he was out there. His currently uncommitted status maybe speaks to the lack of demand for his services. 5 other players combined for just 663 snaps in their careers but all ended up at power conference schools (Arizona x2, Indiana, Northwestern, and Wisconsin) so it’s possible we’ll look back and see the Bruins lost someone who could’ve been a breakout player this year.

On the addition side there aren’t any absolute studs added to the roster. However 5 of the 6 new additions finished with between a 63 and 72 grade which indicates that they should all at least be serious rotation pieces. Bobo is a clear upgrade on Cota and the Bruins also added Central Florida transfer Titua Mokiao-Atimalala (50 pts) as a young, talented lottery ticket at the receiver spot. The loss of Shaw was big but Wyoming’s Azizi Hearn (71 pts) was the 2nd highest graded MW corner by PFF this last season and will slot in as a starter instantly.

There were more impact additions in the front 7 as Hawai’i transfer Darius Musasau (63 pts) was 1st team all-Mountain West this past year. Defensive lineman Jacob Sykes (67 pts) graded out extremely well per PFF albeit for Harvard so without the highest level of competition. Finally, Husky fans are very familiar with Laiatu Latu (65 pts) who may never be able to get on the field after medically retiring from UW but if he is able to return to his previous form then should be a premium edge rusher. I noted yesterday that there’s no place for me to factor in Latu’s injury history in the grading system but it would be fair to knock UCLA’s grade down a little if you wanted to try to account for it.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils, -8 Points

Highest Rated Addition: DL Nesta Jade Silvera (from Miami), 89 points

Highest Rated Departure: RB DeaMonte Trayanum (to Ohio State), 78 points

Total Additions: 9 with average grade of 48.2

Total Departures: 9 with average grade of 49.1

On the whole it doesn’t quite feel like ASU should be #2 but it shouldn’t be a surprise since the Sun Devils were the only school to bring in at least as many incoming transfers as they lost. Even though those players were nearly a wash it results in them coming very close to finishing in the positive which isn’t the norm.

There were definitely a few big hits. “Chip” Trayanum averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2 years as the backup running back at Arizona State although 3 fumbles this past year in just 78 carries helped explain why he didn’t get even more playing time. WR Johnny Wilson (69 pts) came in highly rated out of high school but never really established himself as the red zone threat they thought he could be and is now at Florida State. Safety Cam Phillips (63 pts) started and played well in 2019 but fell completely out of the rotation the last 2 years. Those were ASU’s only losses to finish with at least 55 points although Husky fans may recognize the name Jordan Banks (42 pts) who lost his spot to UW to Sav’ell Smalls coming out of high school and never made an impact on the field for ASU.

There is also some high level talent being added in Tempe. Miami’s Nesta Jade Silvera should immediately come in and start at nose tackle as one of the best run stuffers in the conference. We should also see Wyoming RB Xazavian Valladay (68 pts) be the leading carrier for Arizona State after 4 straight years of 5+ yards per carry in the Mountain West and a pair of 1,000 yard seasons on his resume. The offensive line in front of Valladay also got reinforcements with San Diego State’s Chris Martinez (61 pts) and Penn State’s Des Holmes (57 pts) who each graded out as above average players in their prior stops. With 4 of their other 5 additions Arizona State bet on pedigree bringing in power conference transfers who never found success at their prior schools (between 26 and 52 points) but should at least add some experienced depth.

1. USC Trojans, +22 Points

Highest Rated Addition: QB Caleb Williams (from Oklahoma), 89 points

Highest Rated Departure: QB Kedon Slovis (to Pittsburgh), 86 points

Total Additions: 13 with average grade of 67.3

Total Departures: 17 with average grade of 50.2

I timed this article series when I did with the hope that Caleb Williams to USC would finally be official but as I wrote this section this morning I launched into a lengthy paragraph about how the addition of Williams would move them from #4 to #1 if and when it happened. After finishing the article I hopped onto Twitter and lo and behold there it was from Pete Thamel. So now we get the re-written version. Caleb finished with the 6th highest ranking in my system and only missed the #1 spot because he only has a half season of experience. Getting to stay in the same system with Lincoln Riley eases any concerns of a drop-off however and he will likely enter his first season with the Trojans as the preseason favorite for Pac-12 player of the year.

And from a football sense getting Williams is massive considering that both Slovis and QB Jaxson Dart (82 pts) headed out with the new coaching staff coming in. Both were in my top-30 overall transfers and they left the Trojans perilously thin at the most important position on the field and in desperate need of an infusion like Williams. Those were definitely the biggest losses but not the only ones. In yesterday’s write-up I mentioned EDGE Hunter Echols (70 pts) heading to Arizona and DT Jake Lichtenstein (63 pts) is headed with Mario Cristobal to Miami. Another 3 players departing graded out in the 60-69 point range indicative of likely starters although there were extenuating circumstances in the case of WR Bru McCoy (69 pts).

Most of the losses though for USC are of the shoulder shrug variety. 9 departing Trojans scored fewer than 50 points and unsurprisingly 7 of them have a below average PFF grade for their careers. Another sign that USC might not be losing all that much true talent is that only 7 of the 17 departures have found a new home already.

Meanwhile it’s clear that Lincoln Riley is intent on a facelift particularly on offense via the portal. USC’s 5 highest rated transfers after Caleb Williams are all skill position players and 4 of them come from conference foes. You could argue that USC added the best WR from Washington (Terrell Bynum, 78 pts) and Colorado (Brenden Rice, 68 pts) as well as the best RB from Oregon (Travis Dye, 78 pts) and Stanford (Austin Jones, 84 pts). That’s in addition to Mario Williams (84 pts) who was Oklahoma’s #3 option as a 5-star true freshman. That group should ensure that USC’s offense doesn’t lose any of its potency despite Drake London heading to the draft.

USC also brought in pieces to help the defense although they aren’t quite at the same level as the offense. Corners Mekhi Blackmon from Colorado (64 pts) and Latrell McCutchin following Riley from Oklahoma (67 pts) are candidates to start. As are SEC linebackers Romello Height from Auburn (61 pts) and Shane Lee from Alabama (54 pts). The last pairing adds depth on the defensive line but neither Big 12 addition is likely to start between Earl Barquet of TCU (53 pts) and Tyrone Taleni of Kansas State (39 pts).

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We’ll be back later this week with some awards looking at the state of the transfer portal across all of the power 5 conferences rather than solely with a Pac-12 focus.