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June Pac-12 Transfer Rankings- Part 1

Counting down from 12 to 1 the biggest winners in the transfer portal starting with the back half

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

At the end of January I unveiled my rankings system for ingoing and outgoing transfers to try to determine which programs were doing the best job at managing the portal. Now that we are well past the May 1 deadline for entering the portal and maintaining eligibility for next year things are a little clearer. There will still be roster additions and subtractions between now and the start of the season in September but they are going to be relatively few and far between. So now seems like a good time to revisit the rankings. (You can find Part 1 and Part 2 from back in January right there.)

Players can earn a maximum score of 100 points based on their recruiting ranking, playing time, and performance using PFF grade to allow comparison between positions. If 2 players have yet to see the field in college I would generally rather have the one that was viewed as having a higher ceiling coming out of high school which is why the recruiting ranking plays a part.

I’ll note that I have tweaked the formula since that initial version. Instead of using total snaps I’m using snaps above/below expectation for players in their class. If a freshman has 500 career snaps it means they were a part-time starter in their first season and likely on their way to being quite a good player. If a senior has 500 career snaps it probably means they’ve been a limited rotation piece. I would rather have the freshman all other things being equal in that situation.

12- Colorado Buffaloes (12th in January), -615 points

Additions: 6 with average grade of 48.7; Highest: WR Tommy Sneed (from Baylor), 71 points

Departures: 22 with average grade of 41.2; Highest: S Christian Gonzalez (to Oregon), 80 points

Things didn’t get much better for Colorado in the last 4 months. They gained one extra transfer and lost an extra one. On average the transfers they picked up were a little more talented than the ones they lost. But they lost so much. The skill positions and secondary were decimated. The trio of Christian Gonzalez (80), Mekhi Blackmon (61), and Mark Perry (55) all had 1,200+ snaps in the defensive backfield that need to be replaced. Colorado also lost 5 running backs/receivers with at least a 55 grade including 2020 Pac-12 OPOY Jarek Broussard (66) to Michigan State.

At least the Buffs got in RJ Sneed (71) from Baylor to step in and take over as a potential #1 receiver coming off 3 consecutive seasons of 400+ receiving yards. LB Josh Chandler (66) out of West Virginia was a post-spring addition that should have a shot to make an impact. Tommy Brown from Alabama (70) should also start along the offensive line but Colorado lost a commitment from Sam Houston State transfer running back Ramon Jefferson last month who had a chance to step in and take over that starting job. And it’s not as if Colorado is going to go out and replace all the missing roster spots with 4 and 5-star recruits. Things look bleak in Boulder.

11- Arizona State Sun Devils (2nd in January), -331 points

Additions: 12 with average grade of 49.7; Highest: QB Emory Jones (from Florida), 93 points

Departures: 17 with average grade of 54.5; Highest: QB Jayden Daniels (to LSU), 96 points

What a difference 4 months makes. The consequences of the Arizona State off-field turmoil caught up to the Sun Devils once they hit spring ball. ASU lost starters at quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker, and defensive tackle in addition to previous losses of 3 other wide receivers and their #2 running back. QB Jayden Daniels (96) tied for the 2nd highest grade of any player in the portal this offseason with 3 seasons as an above average (though not quite all-conference) level starter at the sport’s most important position.

The sting of Daniels leaving was lessened by the acquisition of Jones (93) who scored better in PFF than the conventional metrics would say (13 interceptions last year) as the starter at Florida. Bringing in DL Nesta Jade Silvera (88, Miami) should be able to cancel out the loss of Jermayne Lole (83, Louisville) but the 2 together would’ve made one of the best interior defensive lines in the conference. Xazavian Valladay (66, Wyoming) has a good shot at being the starting running back and Cam Johnson (76, Vanderbilt) will help make up for the losses at receiver. But the gains still haven’t outweighed the losses for Herm Edwards.

10- Washington State Cougars (9th in January), -326 points

Additions: 6 with average grade of 40.7; Highest: S Jordan Lee (from Nevada), 64 points

Departures: 18 with average grade of 31.7; Highest: QB Jayden de Laura (to Arizona), 86 points

Washington State managed the distinction of having the lowest average grade for their incoming transfers. A big part of that is 4 of the 6 were unrated coming out of high school and a 5th was a low 2-star. If their transfers end up being significantly better than my rankings would suggest I might try to find a way next year to make the impact of the recruiting grade lessen the more college playing time is available. But for now it handicaps most of the Cougar players with a maximum grade of 70 rather than 100.

Just like Arizona State, the Cougars are swapping out quarterbacks in the portal and my system sees it as a downgrade. Cameron Ward (56) from FCS Incarnate Word has a ton of buzz but had surprisingly bad PFF grades combined with no recruiting profile to cast some doubt he will instantly be an upgrade over de Laura (86). A pair of Nevada defenders in Jordan Lee (64) and Daiyan Hensley (56) will likely step in immediately and start to bolster head coach Jake Dickert’s unit.

Other than de Laura there wasn’t much of note that Washington State lost. 13 of the 18 departing players combined for 220 snaps and only one, QB Cammon Cooper (35, Hawaii) was a former 4-star recruit. Despite the low score this was mostly Washington State churning the back end of the roster in the coaching transition and the Cougs should be able to recruit their way out of the deficit.

9- Stanford Cardinal (11th in January), -324 points

Additions: 1 with average grade of 61.0; Highest: S Patrick Fields (from Oklahoma), 61 points

Departures: 8 with average grade of 48.1; Highest: RB Austin Jones (to USC), 86 points

It’s always a given that Stanford is going to be among the bottom schools on a list like this since they almost never take transfers. They managed to get one through admissions this year in Oklahoma safety Patrick Fields who was a 3-year starter for the Sooners. He should step right into a starting role.

The 8 transfers that they lost was the lowest in the conference which is why they still managed to come in 8th despite only bringing one into the fold. RB Austin Jones (86) will compete for the starting job at USC while LB Gabe Reid will do similarly in the Pac-12 South at Utah. Backup running back Nathaniel Peat is headed to Missouri and will have a chance to win a starting job there but overall David Shaw mostly kept the roster intact.

8- California Golden Bears (10th in January), -211 points

Additions: 4 with average grade of 57.8; Highest: QB Jack Plummer (from Purdue), 71 points

Departures: 11 with average grade of 40.2; Highest: RB Chris Brooks (to BYU), 81 points

Cal has been slightly more involved in the transfer portal than their Bay Area brethren but not by much. While they’ve only brought in 4 players so far, all of them have played at least 240 offensive/defensive snaps at their prior schools and 3 of them come from within the conference. Jack Plummer (81) will compete for the starting QB job to replace Chase Garbers but he’s not likely to compete for an all-conference spot. Jackson Sirmon (70) is right behind Plummer but as Washington fans know, he has his own warts as well. Xavier Carlton (55) from Utah should at least be a rotation player on the edge for Cal and still has significant upside with his frame and pedigree.

The losses have generally come on the offensive side of the ball which is not where Cal has had talent to spare in recent years. Brooks (81), WR Nikko Remigio (65, Fresno St), and OL McKade Mettauer (61, Oklahoma) all have 1,000+ career offensive snaps for the Bears playing at an average or better level. A pair of departing defenders, Chigozie Anusiem (56, Hawaii) and JH Tevis (49, Indiana), also would’ve likely been part of the rotation had they stayed. The other 6 transfers out thought were either guys who played a little (and not well) or had been unable to crack the rotation. It’s a mixed bag and whether this looks successful or not in hindsight depends on if Plummer can elevate the quarterback position.

7- Oregon State Beavers (6th in January), -187 points

Additions: 2 with average grade of 58.5; Highest: RB Jamious Griffin (from Georgia Tech), 66 points

Departures: 10 with average grade of 30.4; Highest: WR Zeriah Beason (to Wash State), 41 points

If I were going to group the Pac-12 programs by the way they’ve managed the portal then Oregon State would be alongside Stanford and Cal for their strategy. None of the schools lost more than 11 players and none brought in more than 4. Of those programs though the Beavers had by far the lowest average departing recruit at just over 30 points. Only 2 of those players has played more than 400 career offensive/defensive snaps and both of those were lowly recruited wide receivers that should be reasonably replaceable.

In past years Oregon State has brought in super talented players returning to the West Coast. However this year both incoming transfers started out in their home state playing in the Southeast but have been lured to the opposite corner of the country. Griffin (66) has averaged 4.3 yards per carry for his career but only had 14 carries last year. Andrew Chatfield (51) was a rotation pass rusher for the Gators who is hoping he can break out with the Beavs.

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Come back next week as we count down spots #6 to #1.