The 2021 transfer portal has been a whirlwind. Adding to the chaos was Tank Bigsby’s surprising entry. The move was completely unexpected for the 6th ranked back according to Campus2Canton.com’s consensus rankings. Most believed that Bigsby would be the main beneficiary when Bryan Harsin made the move from Boise State to Auburn. Harsin was known for funneling production to a single designated bellcow back including names like Jay Ajayi, Jeremy McNichols, Alexander Mattison, and George Holani. But Bigsby saw questionable usage under Harsin who attempted to integrate Jarquez Hunter into the fold at different points during the season.
Bigsby will now enter the transfer portal with just one more year before becoming NFL draft eligible.
The question is where will Bigsby land.
At the time he selected Auburn, Bigsby, a Georgia native, narrowed his choice down to four schools in addition to Auburn: Georgia, LSU and South Carolina.
At South Carolina, Bigsby was primarily recruited by Bobby Bentley, who is now the wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator at USF, and Thomas Brown, who is now the running backs coach of the LA Rams. USF is too small a school for Bigsby, and as much as Matthew Stafford could use him right now, Tank will not be joining the Rams for at least one more season. What’s left in South Carolina is a backfield that has a lot of names, but none the caliber of player as Bigsby. Regardless, the 104th ranked rushing offense does not seem like the type of destination for a running back seeking to improve his draft capital.
Georgia’s backfield will be loaded next season between Kendall Milton, Branson Robinson, and under the radar freshman Jordan James (a favorite of this writer). Daijun Edwards will also receive carries. Bigsby wants to maximize his NFL draft value with a majority of the running back timeshare, which he is unlikely to receive at Georgia.
It’s not clear who was primarily responsible for recruiting Bigsby at LSU, but the recent hire of Brian Kelly is likely to disperse those involved from Baton Rouge. Running backs coach Kevin Faulk will not be returning to LSU. Recruiting coordinator Corey Raymond has accepted a job with Billy Napier at Florida. While at Louisiana, Napier headed one of the preeminent rushing programs in the country, albeit generally split amongst a committee. Still, Bigsby is built for it if Napier wanted to concentrate the rushing production into one back.
But my money is on Tennessee. Bigsby’s recruitment to Auburn was credited to running back coach Cadillac Williams, whose name is synonymous with the program, and former defensive line coach Rodney Gardner. Bigsby was recruited while Gus Malzahn was still head coach. Williams was retained by Harsin, but Gardner was not. Gardner is now the defensive line coach at Tennessee, a program that had been previously linked to Jahmyr Gibbs and boasts a top 20 rushing offense. With Gibbs now crystal balled to Alabama, Tennessee makes sense for Bigsby given Josh Heupel’s uptempo offense.
Honorable mentions based on production potential: Ole Miss, UCLA, and Michigan.
Felix H. Sharpe is a Co-Founder of Campus2Canton.com and co-host of the Devy Debate. You can yell at him @sharpereview on Twitter.