College football transfer rankings: These 10 will make the most impact on their new teams in 2021

With conference media days events starting this week and the beginning of preseason practices just a few weeks away, college football rosters are finally looking like finished products. Because of new rules allowing players to transfer once and be eligible immediately at their new schools, there was a record-setting amount of transferring in the sport this offseason that left coaches scrambling to finalize their 2021 squads later into the calendar than usual.

At this point, though, the July 1 deadline has passed for players to enter the portal and be eligible immediately at their new schools. So while a couple of stragglers who were in the portal before then could still commit, the hay is mostly in the barn as it relates to transfers who could actually impact the 2021 season. 

If this offseason was any indication, we can expect transferring to have an increasingly significant role in shaping the sport moving forward. Several potential difference makers are on the move. With the offseason coming to a close, 247Sports released its final batch of the top 150 transfers on Wednesday. Check out the full list here, but first, let’s go a bit more in-depth on the top-10 impact transfers for the 2021 college football season from 247Sports.

To: Alabama | From: Tennessee — After racking up 140 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss in two seasons with the Volunteers, this former top 50 prospect from the 2019 class is joining the defending national champions. To’o To’o considered the Crimson Tide originally before going to play for their former defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, and he should be an immediate high-level contributor to a linebacker unit projected to be one of the best in the country. With a good season, To’o To’o will be off to the 2022 NFL Draft.

To: Oklahoma | From: Tennessee — Gray emerged as Tennessee’s top offensive weapon last season by running for 772 yards on 157 carries and catching 35 passes for 254 yards. He was one of the few bright spots for a bad offense and has chosen a more proficient system for his next stop on the way to the NFL. At Oklahoma, Gray will probably split reps with two-time 1,000-yard rusher Kennedy Brooks, who opted out of last season and then passed up the draft. But there should be plenty of touches for both, and Gray is the more-proven pass catcher.

To: Georgia | From: LSU (by way of Florida) — Gilbert earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team at LSU last season after catching 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns after picking the Tigers over Alabama and Georgia as the consensus top tight end prospect in the 2020 class. Initially, he committed to Florida as a tight end after entering the transfer portal but changed course and is headed to Georgia, his home state. Gilbert is also transitioning from tight end to receiver and could help make the Bulldogs a matchup nightmare on the perimeter as he pairs with behemoth tight end Darnell Washington in certain packages.

4. WR Wan’Dale Robinson

To: Kentucky | From: Nebraska — Robinson is the type of electric, multi-purpose playmaker a revamped Kentucky offense needs. The Kentucky native and former top 100 prospect from the 2019 class racked up 580 rushing yards and 914 receiving yards over 18 games in his two seasons at Nebraska. If new offensive coordinator Liam Coen can figure out how to use Robinson correctly, he could help make the Wildcats a whole lot more dynamic on offense.

5. LB Mike Jones

To: LSU | From: Clemson — Jones spent three seasons at Clemson and appeared in 20 games but is technically still just a sophomore as he arrives at LSU for a potential breakout season. The former four-star prospect from the 2018 class is the type of versatile cog who is big enough to be a force in run defense while also bringing enough athleticism to match up against a variety of pass catchers. He should be an immediate asset to an LSU defense that is rebooting with Daronte Jones as its coordinator.

To: Georgia | From: Clemson — The Bulldogs filled a massive need by landing Kendrick, who was a first-team All-ACC performer in 2020 and a second-team honoree in 2019. As a veteran lockdown corner, he’ll slot in as a starter for Georgia and bring big-game experience to a squad with national title aspirations. Secondary play is still likely UGA’s top area of concern entering the 2021 season, but Kendrick will help bring a baseline level of talent and experience to the unit. He played receiver as a freshman and was a pretty decent kick returner his first two years at Clemson, too, so the Bulldogs can get creative here if they want.

To: Florida | From: Clemson — Bowman is the least-proven player in the top 10 after he registered just 32 rushing yards on nine carries during two games at Clemson last season before transferring to Florida. But there is no questioning his potential. The 5-foot-9 speedster ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect in the Class of 2020, according to the 247Sports Composite. With an initial offer list that included Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Florida, among others, Bowman brings big-play promise to a UF backfield that also features veterans Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis.

To: Oklahoma | From: Tennessee — With 17 starts at left tackle under his belt from two seasons at Tennessee, Morris arrives at Oklahoma as a proven pass protector who is still in the process of reaching his full potential after starting immediately as a true freshman in 2019. Morris is a former five-star prospect, per the 247Sports Composite, and assuming he wins the left tackle job protecting Spencer Rattler’s backside, he’ll have ample opportunity to impress NFL scouts.

To: Georgia | From: West Virginia — Like Kendrick, Smith will be essential to helping Georgia reach its full potential as the Bulldogs see most of their secondary production from last season move on. Smith earned All-American honors from a variety of publications last season after intercepting a couple of passes and making eight tackles for loss in nine games from his safety spot for the Mountaineers. With another strong season, he’ll likely be off to the draft, but his time at Georgia could be special nonetheless.

10. CB Tyrique Stevenson

To: Miami (FL) | From: Georgia — The No. 2 ranked corner and No. 20 overall player from the Class of 2019 is headed to play for his hometown squad at a critical time for the Hurricanes. With copious amounts of returning production from a team that started 8-1 last season, Miami’s prospects have rarely been higher in recent years. Stevenson will be among a handful of newcomers on defense who might help the unit take a step forward.

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