Grading the biggest transfer portal gains and losses for each B1G team
The transfer portal is closed for business. For now, anyway.
Wednesday marked the end of a 45-day window for players to enter their name into the portal. Those who are in the portal still have the ability to transfer at any time outside of the window — they just have to have the paperwork filed.
There will be a second window that opens May 1-15 — well after spring ball has concluded
Every Big Ten team is affected by the portal for both better and worse. Here’s a breakdown of the biggest gain and loss for each.
Biggest pickup: QB Luke Altmyer (Ole Miss)
After the NCAA denied Tommy DeVito’s waiver to play a 6th season, the Illini were in desperate need of a quarterback. Altmyer, who spent 2 seasons as a backup at Ole Miss, fits that need. It’ll take a pretty poor training camp for Altmyer not to win the starting job.
Biggest loss: WR Brian Hightower (Cal)
Hightower was 3rd on the Illini with 452 receiving yards in 2022. But with Isaiah Williams and Pat Bryant returning, Hightower was unlikely to climb up the chart. Playing his final season at Cal gives him a chance to be a feature receiver.
Biggest pickup: QB Tayven Jackson (Tennessee)
Trayce Jackson-Davis’ baby brother was an essential addition for a team that lost 3 quarterbacks to the portal. Jackson is a former 4-star recruit who was Tennessee’s 3rd-stringer as a freshman.
Biggest loss: Edge Dasan McCullough (Oklahoma)
McCullough was the highest-ranked signee in Hoosier history. A year later, he’s already gone. A devastating blow.
Biggest pickups: QB Cade McNamara (Michigan), TE Erick All (Michigan)
After years of underwhelming play at the position, the Hawkeyes add a veteran quarterback with winning Big Ten experience. And All, 1 of his favorite targets at Michigan, fits in well with the Iowa tight end tradition.
Biggest losses: WR Keagan Johnson (Kansas State), WR Arland Bruce IV (Oklahoma State), LB Jestin Jacobs (Oregon)
The Hawkeyes keep hemorrhaging receivers in the portal. Last year Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy decamped for Purdue, and now Johnson and Bruce are headed to more receiver-friendly offenses. But that’s to be expected. Iowa is a great place to play linebacker, so losing Jacobs to Oregon was a surprising blow.
Biggest pickup: WR Kaden Prather (West Virginia)
Prather, who had 52 catches for 501 yards in 2022, was set to be West Virginia’s top returning receiver in 2023. Instead, he’s now a Terp. Prather is a big pickup for a receiving corps replacing Jeshaun Jones and Rakim Jarrett.
Biggest loss: TE CJ Dippre (Alabama)
Dippre gave the Terrapins a fantastic 1-2 punch at tight end alongside Corey Dyches. As is evidenced by the fact Alabama wanted him.
Biggest pickup: TE AJ Barner (Indiana)
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Barner’s stats don’t exactly jump off the page — 28 receptions for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2022 — but that’s because nobody could get the ball to him at Indiana. He and Colston Loveland are poised to be the best pair of receiving tight ends in the B1G next season.
Biggest loss: TE Erick All (Iowa)
This is why picking up Barner was so important. All would have been Michigan’s top returning tight end, but followed McNamara to Iowa.
Biggest pickup: DE Tunmise Adeleye (Texas A&M)
A pure potential pickup. Adeleye was a former top-10 defensive line recruit who played just 2 games as a redshirt freshman with the Aggies. Michigan State pass rushing coach Brandon Jordan seems like the ideal fit to unlock that potential.
Biggest loss: DE Jeff Pietrowski (Wisconsin)
When he was last healthy, Pietrowski was a menace. He had 7 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in 2021.
Biggest pickup: WR Elijah Spencer (Charlotte)
Spencer is a Group of 5 star looking to break through at the Power 5 level. He led the 49ers with 943 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns last season. He finished 5th in Conference USA receiving yardage.
Biggest loss: LB Braelen Oliver (Georgia Tech)
Oliver was a team captain who began 2022 as a starter but eventually saw Cody Lindenberg surpass him on the depth chart. His move to play for his home state Yellow Jackets is understandable.
Biggest pickup: WR Billy Kemp (Virginia)
Kemp is a former running back turned slot receiver who caught 192 passes for 1,774 yards in his 4 seasons at Virginia.
Biggest loss: OLB Ernest Hausmann (Michigan)
Not only a big loss of potential talent, but a blow to Nebraska’s pride. Hausmann, adopted from Uganda and raised in Nebraska, was among the state’s highest-rated recent recruits. He had 54 tackles and 2 TFL as his playing time increased over the course of his true freshman season.
Biggest pickup: N/A
Maybe in May the Cats can get proactive?
Biggest loss: CB AJ Hampton (Tulane)
Hampton, an All-B1G honorable mention, was second in the league in passes defended and fumble recoveries. At Tulane, he’ll continue getting a good education while actually winning football games.
Biggest pickup: S Ja’Had Carter (Syracuse)
Help in the defensive backfield is always welcome for the Buckeyes, particularly with Ronnie Hickman moving to the NFL Draft. Carter led the Orange with 3 interceptions last season and was honorable mention all-ACC.
Biggest loss: CB JK Johnson (LSU)
Losing defensive backs is never welcome for the Buckeyes, even though Johnson mostly played a fill-in role when Cameron Brown and Denzel Burke dealt with injuries last season. Johnson transferred to LSU to play for his high school coach, Robert Steeples, who now coaches LSU’s cornerbacks.
Biggest pickup: WR Dante Cephas (Kent State)
Cephas follows Mitchell Tinsley’s path of moving up from a Group of 5 program and potentially having an immediate impact for the Nittany Lions — which is desperately needed with Tinsley moving to the NFL Draft.
Cephas was banged up at the end of last season, but impressed with 6 catches for 105 yards at Washington in the opener. He also tore Ohio apart with 246 yards on 13 grabs.
Biggest loss: QB Christian Veilleux (Pitt)
A loss only because Veilleux has talent. But really not that much of a loss, because he wasn’t going to beat out Drew Allar for the starting job. This will only hurt if Allar gets hurt.
Biggest pickup: QB Hudson Card (Texas)
Card is the ace in Ryan Walters’ first recruiting deck. Card was a battle-tested Texas backup who played in 12 games over the past 2 seasons behind Casey Thompson and then Quinn Ewers.
If it pans out, this wouldn’t be the first time a quarterback arrived from Austin to become a star for the Boilermakers.
Biggest loss: DT Branson Deen (Miami)
Deen, an All-B1G honorable mention, was a quality plug in the middle of Purdue’s defensive line. But if Miami wants a player in the transfer portal, you’d better find someone with deep pockets to stave off the Canes.
Biggest pickup: S Flip Dixon (Minnesota)
Dixon is reuniting with defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak, who was his safeties coach at Minnesota. He had 28 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, appearing in 12 games for the Golden Gophers in 2022.
Biggest loss: WR Taj Harris (N/A)
Harris, a much-hyped transfer from Syracuse, left the program after 1 game in which he only caught 1 pass. So the Scarlet Knights are used to life without him. But he still qualifies as the most accomplished Rutgers player currently in the portal.
Biggest pickup: QB Tanner Mordecai (SMU)
The most accomplished quarterback to arrive at Wisconsin since Russell Wilson.
Mordecai has passed for 7,791 yards and 76 touchdowns as a backup at Oklahoma and starter at SMU. He will usher in an unrecognizable era of offensive football for the Badgers.
Biggest loss: RB Isaac Guerendo (Louisville)
Guerendo is an explosive home-run hitter. But with Chez Mellusi opting to come back for a 5th year, Wisconsin’s running back room is a crowded place. It makes sense that Guerendo opted to go somewhere he could be a feature back. And former Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is quite familiar with his work.