B1G losses: Naming every Big Ten team's top transfer portal loss
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.
Yesterday, we focused on the biggest pickups each team made from the transfer portal. But the door swings both ways. Today, we look at the most impactful transfer portal losses for each team.
Certainly, not all of them are created equal. This list runs the gamut from grad transfers to up-and-coming stars to quality bench contributors looking for bigger roles.
Illinois: TE Daniel Barker (Michigan State)
A massively impactful portal defection as Barker would have been Illinois’ most reliable pass-catching weapon.
Barker caught 64 passes for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns in his Illinois career. One of those touchdowns was a game-clincher against Michigan State with 5 seconds left in 2019.
Mel Tucker hits the portal so hard that Barker may only end up being the No. 3 or 4 biggest impact player the Spartans gain. The loss to Illinois is more significant.
Indiana: QB Michael Penix Jr. (to Washington)
It was time for both sides to go their separate ways, but a healthy Penix Jr. has enough talent to bear mentioning on this list.
Until tearing his ACL against Maryland in 2020, he was leading the Big Ten in passing yardage and touchdowns. He didn’t have the same juice in his legs in 2021 before suffering yet another season-ending injury.
After a terrible 2021, the Hoosiers couldn’t afford to take their chances on a backup QB once again taking the bulk of their snaps. For Washington, which is coached by former IU offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, it’s a risk very much worth taking in Year 1.
Iowa: WR Tyrone Tracy (Purdue)
Tracy is our lone crossover pick — Iowa’s biggest portal loss and Purdue’s biggest portal gain. However, it’s unlikely the Hawkeyes would take advantage of his talent with their vanilla play-calling and spotty quarterbacks.
The Boilermakers will get more impact from his arrival than Iowa will lose from his departure for that reason.
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Maryland: Edge Demeioun Robinson (Penn State)
A brutal loss for the Terrapins, who can ill-afford shedding defensive talent.
Robinson has 3 years of eligibility remaining and finished with 19 tackles and 2 sacks in his freshman season at Maryland. The fact he can spend those 3 seasons tormenting the Terps might make this the toughest defection to swallow on this list.
Michigan: OG Chuck Filiaga (Minnesota)
Filiaga was the No. 3 guard for the nation’s top offensive line in 2021, giving the Wolverines quality snaps when his number was called.
It seems Filiaga would be filling the same role in 2022, whereas the Golden Gophers are replacing 4 starters up front. Michigan would love to have veteran depth, but this means more to Minnesota.
Michigan State: S Michael Dowell (Miami, Ohio)
Dowell started 4 games at nickel last season. But the Spartans finished last nationally in pass defense, so it was unlikely everyone was going to be back for 2022.
Dowell has a chance to play well in the MAC, but this loss won’t sting the Spartans.
Minnesota: RB Mar’Keise Irving (Oregon)
The good news for the Gophers is that Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts will be back next season. The bad news is that left very little room for Irving and Ky Thomas barring injuries, and the latter 2 backs decided to move on.
Irving is already the real deal, breaking the 100-yard mark 3 times in his freshman season. PJ Fleck will certainly wish he was still around in 2023, but from Irving’s perspective, it’s an understandable move.
Nebraska: QB Adrian Martinez (Kansas State)
The Cornhuskers couldn’t survive another year of the Martinez-Scott Frost marriage. And since buyouts are expensive, Frost is still in Lincoln while Martinez makes his way to Manhattan.
Nebraska will be A-OK with Texas transfer Casey Thompson. And it will be interesting to see if K-State coach Chris Klieman succeeds in instilling more discipline into Martinez’s decision-making.
Northwestern: S Brandon Joseph (Notre Dame)
Joseph is a potential 1st-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft, so his decision to replace 2022 1st-rounder Kyle Hamilton at Notre Dame proves that he was smart enough to attend Northwestern.
The Wildcats, who were 13th in the B1G in total defense last season, are going to have a very difficult time replacing Joseph.
Ohio State: QB Quinn Ewers (Texas)
Ewers and his bad haircut weren’t going to get on the field ahead of CJ Stroud, so the impact on the Buckeyes in 2022 figures to be pretty limited.
But Ewers is a former 5-star signee, and those don’t grow on trees. Especially not at quarterback. As long as Stroud stays healthy, the Buckeyes won’t feel this one next season, but they may in 2023.
Penn State: RB Noah Cain (LSU)
Cain never lived up to his potential at Penn State, but even Saquon Barkley would have trouble finding daylight behind the Nittany Lions’ offensive line the past couple of seasons. Cain did score 7 touchdowns in 2019, which is around the time of Penn State’s last recorded run block.
My guess is the Louisiana native will put up some numbers in 2022 that make Penn State wish he never left.
Purdue: QB Jack Plummer (Cal)
Plummer was Purdue’s on-again, off-again starter for 3 seasons before finally getting leapfrogged by Aidan O’Connell in the 2nd half of 2021.
The transition from West Lafayette to Berkeley is culturally amusing, but Plummer should fit in on the field just fine for the Golden Bears. Plummer is good enough to start somewhere — just not Purdue now that O’Connell has blossomed.
Rutgers: OT Raiqwon O’Neal (UCLA)
O’Neal was an honorable mention All-Big Ten offensive lineman in 2021, which means he probably would have been on the third team if he played anywhere but Rutgers. The versatile big man even has a pair of career touchdowns.
This is a major loss for the Scarlet Knights.
Wisconsin: OL Kayden Lyles (Florida State)
Lyles gets the nod over running back Jalen Berger because Berger was dismissed from the team and didn’t enter the portal of his own volition. A very arbitrary, made-up rule on my part. But still a rule.
Lyles was a depth piece for the Badgers, starting 16 games at guard and center while making 34 overall appearances in his 3 seasons at Wisconsin.
Every coach wants veteran linemen who can contribute, but Lyles will certainly get a chance to do more than that at Florida State.