B1G gains: Naming every Big Ten team's best transfer portal addition
The door to the NCAA transfer portal is, for now, closed. Student-athletes who wanted to play next season had until May 1 to enter.
And while plenty of players are still making decisions on where to go, the bulk of transfers have taken place. At this point, it feels safe to declare the biggest additions and subtractions for each team in the Big Ten.
Since we believe on starting off on the right foot, today we’ll address the positives.
These are the top additions for each Big Ten team in 2022.
Illinois: QB Tommy DeVito (from Syracuse)
The Fighting Illini desperately needed to infuse a spark into their passing game after finishing at the bottom of the B1G in passing yardage the past 2 seasons. DeVito may bring it.
DeVito never really found his footing in an injury-riddled career at Syracuse. But he looked sharp in Illinois’ spring game. If he can stay healthy, he seems capable of doing what’s asked of him in Bret Bielema’s run-heavy offense.
Indiana: QB Connor Bazelak (Missouri)
It may feel like it now, but this will not be a list of 14 quarterbacks. Illinois and Indiana just happen to be 2 of the 3 Big Ten teams that will feature new starters next season.
Due to extraordinary injury issues, the Hoosiers suited up 4 quarterbacks last season. Bazelak will hopefully provide some needed stability. Last year he was 5th in the SEC in passing with an average of 231.6 yards per game, though his ratio of 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions could use improvement.
Iowa: TE Steven Stilianos (Lafayette)
So the Hawkeyes, who could sorely use an upgrade at quarterback, instead added depth behind their best offensive player.
But this isn’t a bad move by any means, because Stilianos can still make Iowa’s offense better. They’ll be able to get more creative with Sam LaPorta. Stilianos was 3rd in receptions for FCS Lafayette last season despite playing just 4 games.
And he’s apparently a heck of a blocker. The Leopards averaged 128.8 rushing yards per game when he played and just 81.6 ypg while he was out.
Maryland: WR Jacob Copeland (Florida)
Copeland will add to 1 of Maryland’s strengths, joining the likes of Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett in the receiving corps.
Copeland had 41 catches for 642 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2021 before transferring after Dan Mullen was fired.
Taulia Tagovailoa will certainly have the firepower to be 1 of the 3 All-Big Ten quarterbacks this season, and Copeland is part of the reason.
Michigan: C Victor Oluwatimi (Virginia)
Oluwatimi isn’t the sexiest player on this list, but in all likelihood he’s the best.
He was a 2nd team All-American at Virginia, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 2 run-blocking center in the country behind Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum. And you know Jim Harbaugh loves a great run blocker.
With Andrew Vastardis graduated, Oluwatimi will have an immediate impact in his lone season in maize and blue.
Michigan State: RB Jarek Broussard (Colorado)
The Spartans added a pair of high-profile running backs to this year’s transfer class, but I’m giving Broussard a slight edge over former Wisconsin back Jalen Berger due to a superior track record.
Broussard played for Mel Tucker at Colorado, and now will finish out his college career with Tucker at Michigan State. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 3 seasons as a Buffalo, including 6 games of 100 yards or more.
Replacing Kenneth Walker III figures to be done via committee, but Broussard could be the key piece.
Minnesota: CB Beanie Bishop (Western Kentucky)
The speedy Bishop was 1st team All-Conference USA as a defensive back and an honorable mention as a kick returner.
In 2021, he finished with 43 tackles, including 6.5 TFL, as well as 4 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and a touchdown.
Nebraska: DE Ochaun Mathis (TCU)
The obvious answer here — and perhaps even the right answer — is quarterback Casey Thompson. But I think Mathis has a higher ceiling, because he can potentially bring the same impact to the Cornhuskers’ defense that we saw Aidan Hutchinson deliver at Michigan last year.
Mathis was 2nd in the Big 12 with 9 sacks in 2020. The Huskers were 12th in the Big Ten with 20 sacks last season. To me, that’s a bigger weakness than Nebraska’s passing game. Mathis could provide a fix.
Northwestern: LB Wendell Davis Jr. (Pitt)
Davis will compete to fill the void left behind by Chris Bergin, who finished 2nd in the Big Ten with 141 tackles last season.
Davis seems to have made the most of his opportunities when he got on the field for Pitt, finishing with 27 tackles including 3 TFL in 8 games last season.
It should be noted that this is not a homecoming for Davis. He is the son of former Chargers fullback Wendell Davis, not former Bears wide receiver Wendell Davis.
Ohio State: S Tanner McCalister (Oklahoma State)
McCalister switched OSUs along with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.
He started for the Cowboys the past 2 seasons, accruing 78 tackles, 3 TFL, 10 pass breakups and an interception. Given his knowledge of Knowles’ scheme, he’ll also be able to serve as a quarterback of Ohio State’s defensive backfield.
Penn State: WR Mitchell Tinsley (Western Kentucky)
Even without Jahan Dotson, Penn State’s passing game should be pretty potent in 2022. Tinsley was a feature player in Western Kentucky’s pass-happy offense, catching 87 balls for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Between Tinsley, Parker Washington, Keandre Lambert-Smith and tight end Brenton Strange, quarterback Sean Clifford will have a full array of receiving weapons to work with.
Purdue: WR Tyrone Tracy (Iowa)
Moving from Brian Ferentz’s offense to Jeff and Brian Brohm’s offense will be a shock to the senses for Tracy — not to mention a massive boon for his stats.
The Indianapolis native can be used out of the backfield, split wide or an amalgamation of both on jet sweeps. He had 36 receptions for 589 yards and 2 touchdowns as a freshman in 2019 before falling down Iowa’s depth chart the past 2 seasons.
Tracy should be able to replicate or better those freshman totals this season.
Rutgers: WR Taj Harris (Syracuse)
Harris’ arrival is quite the boost following Bo Melton’s NFL departure. He had 151 receptions for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career with the Orange.
If Noah Vedral can get him the ball, the Scarlet Knights will be on to something.
Wisconsin: CB Jay Shaw (UCLA)
The Badgers attempted to reel in quarterback Caleb Williams but did not succeed. Still, Shaw is as fine a catch as anything you’d find fishing up in the Northwoods.
In parts of 4 seasons at UCLA, Shaw had 87 tackles, 10 pass breakups, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a touchdown.
With the Badgers losing both starting corners from a year ago, Shaw and Toledo transfer Justin Clark will both bring a veteran presence and likely both earn starting roles.