The second major wave of transfers will be coming after spring practices end. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few players who are getting out ahead of the pack before their spring practices conclude. Several players discussed in last week’s report have found their destinations. Overall, this week has felt like the calm before the inevitable storm. There’s not a ton to report on this week regarding the transfer portal, but we will bring you the best information we can. We’ll go in-depth with the biggest players of the week, then briefly cover other players of interest before finally listing the top players available at each position.
This week, no major quarterbacks have entered or exited the portal. Thus, we’ll focus on a running back looking to replace some lost production for a team without their star and another top transfer receiver to add to South Carolina’s crazy good portal class.
Note: Transfers for this report occurred between the dates of March 24th and April 5th, 2022
Brandon Campbell: USC → Houston
That sound you heard eerily in the distance was the cry out of every CFB fantasy player as we received word that true sophomore RB out of Houston, Alton McCaskill, had torn his ACL in spring practice. Dana Holgerson historically has not been known to rely on a single back to lead his rushing attack. However, it looked like the young running back from Conroe, TX, would be the prospect that would break that mold. Last year, McCaskill carried the ball 189 times for 961 yards and 16 touchdowns. In addition, McCaskill also showed he was a threat through the air, catching the ball 21 times for 113 yards and two more touchdowns. Now, McCaskill is done for the CFF year, and many were wondering if Houston would dip into the portal, given the options behind McCaskill, like Ta’Zhawn Henry, weren’t inspiring much confidence. Enter: Brandon Campbell.
Campbell was the #22 ranked running back in the 2021 class and was committed to the USC Trojans. In his one year with the Trojans, Campbell didn’t do a lot, carrying the ball 12 times for 53 yards, with a single catch for 16 yards. However, with Keaontay Ingram declaring for the draft, it looked as though Campbell was set for a bigger workload in his second year. However, Coach Clay Helton was fired, and Lincoln Riley was brought in. Riley proceeded to bring in two major transfer RBs, Travis Dye and Austin Jones. Campbell realized that since he wasn’t one of Riley’s recruits, his opportunities looked less sure than they had, so he decided to jump ship. Last week, I had mentioned several different landing spots that Campbell could have entertained. Since then, it was rumored Campbell wanted to take the route to bring him closer to home. McCaskill’s injury sped up that process, as, without him, the Cougars looked to be the best opportunity for early playing time.
Then, the question on everyone’s mind is, how does this affect your CFB fantasy leagues this fall? While everything is still early, there’s certainly reason to be excited. Campbell walks into that room as the most talented RB with an even higher recruiting pedigree than McCaskill had. Clearly, given the timeline of everything that transpired, the Houston Coaching staff saw they had a need. Then immediately filled it with Campbell, indicating they see him as a solution to their current problem. The question then becomes, how much of McCaskill’s production can we expect Campbell to replicate. In reality, that’s going to be down to Campbell. As mentioned before, Holgerson has historically not relied on a true workhorse RB, but as we saw last year, if someone separates themselves from the pack, he’s willing to get them the touches they deserve. Campbell, as of now, doesn’t seem to have the build for a workhorse role (he’s 5’10” and 190lbs). With some added weight in the off-season, that could change. I believe the upside is there for Campbell, and he is worth drafting in your CFB fantasy leagues this off-season. Before his injury, McCaskill was going as the RB13 in CFF redraft leagues. I do not recommend anyone draft Campbell that highly. There is a possibility of an RB committee approach. When it gets to those later rounds, you may be struggling to find value at RB. I would take a shot at Campbell’s upside in this Cougar offense.
Corey Rucker: Arkansas St → South Carolina
Another player I mentioned in the previous edition of this report has made their way to their new destination. This time, Corey Rucker, former Arkansas St. Red Wolf, has made his way over to the Palmetto State and has made himself a Gamecock. Last time, I dove deeply into Rucker’s role in the Blake Anderson offense and how there was an opportunity to return to that upside if Rucker followed Anderson to Utah State. Rucker wasn’t happy with his new situation at Arkansas State. He had traded Blake Anderson for Butch Jones and Logan Bonner/Layne Hatcher for James Blackman, so he decided to look for a new opportunity. In the end, Rucker decided to join the hottest transfer portal class we’ve seen this off-season.
Let’s break down the overhaul on offense that the Gamecocks have achieved this off-season through the portal. At QB, they’ve brought in former 5-star and #1 QB prospect Spencer Rattler and his favorite TE from Oklahoma, Austin Stogner. In addition, they also landed likely the best FCS wide receiver in the portal, Antwane Wells, who has had buzzing reports around him all spring. Finally, they also bring in RBs like Christian Beal-Smith from Wake Forest. This doesn’t even touch the offensive weapons they already had in wide receiver Josh Vann and certified athletic freak Jaheim Bell. All these pieces make for a very attractive-looking offensive group. Their schedule includes Georgia St., Charlotte, South Carolina St., Missouri, Tennessee, a rebuilding Florida, and Vanderbilt – some very winnable games.
Once again, being a part of an offense with a ton of potential on paper is a good thing. How does this affect Rucker’s stock regarding CFB fantasy this year? Well, short and sweet, it’s stock down for his potential this year. As mentioned above, even if this offense is as lethal as can be expected, and that’s a BIG “if,” there are many options for this offense to run through. To expect Rucker to be the one to monopolize that attention feels like a fool’s errand. Even among the receiver group, Wells has gotten rave reviews since his addition, so I’d personally bet on him over Rucker to be the WR1 for South Carolina this year. In terms of NFL prospects, I could see this being great for Rucker in the long term. However, I would not recommend anyone draft him for immediate returns as this year’s production.
Additional Transfers Worth Mentioning
Usually, I’d have a few more prominent names to cover, but this week was mostly the big news of Rucker’s destination and Houston seemingly finding their McCaskill replacement plan. However, there was plenty of smaller transfers worth talking about and their impact on their own and others’ CFB fantasy potential.
Brady McBride, QB: Texas St → ???
Before we get too far into this, let me clarify something. I have ZERO interest in where McBride lands. The man threw for 1,507 yards and 12 touchdowns to 10 interceptions last year. No, thank you. To me, the bigger side of this is that it all but confirms Layne Hatcher, who transferred in from Arkansas St, will be the likely starter. Whatever you feel about Hatcher, he is an upgrade at passing for Texas State. They will be behind in a lot of games, as they’re expected to be one of the worst FBS teams this year. The increase in passing, along with a better passer at QB, makes Marcell Barbee and Javen Banks fun late-round dart throws in deeper CFF leagues, but nothing more.
Aaron McLaughlin, QB: NC State → Jacksonville St
Many of you correctly pointed out that I had listed Aaron McLaughlin as having not exited the portal in the previous edition. In fact, he had already done so. McLaughlin was an exciting player to follow, given that he was a former 4-star QB from the 2021 class who felt it necessary to transfer away from NC State, where he had committed. Clearly, with Devin Leary’s success last year, McLaughlin saw his chances at early playing time vanish, and he looked elsewhere. Now, he has landed himself down in Jacksonville State. Normally, transferring to an FCS program would not get written about in this report. However, Jacksonville State is one of several FCS programs set to make the jump in the 2023 season to the CUSA conference. Therefore, we will see Mr. McLaughlin again, and his talent meshed with a weak conference like the CUSA will be very interesting.
Dylan McDuffie, RB: Buffalo → ???
I remember the last off-season when Kevin Marks was being drafted as the RB6 in CFF drafts, and by the end of the season, he was un-rosterable in all formats. Who stood up to take his place? Well, none other than McDuffie. Even with Lance Leipold now the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks, it looked as if Buffalo would carry on its legacy of being a power-run team feasting on a weak MAC schedule. McDuffie was the prime benefactor, as he rushed 206 times for 1,049 yards and 11 touchdowns. Given he did most of his damage over the second half of the season, many were excited to see what he could do given an entire season as the lead back. This made it all the more puzzling when McDuffie entered the portal earlier this offseason and returned to Buffalo. What’s even more confusing is that he’s now back in the portal. It’s rumored that he may be looking to go P5 with the Virginia Cavaliers under head coach Tony Eliott. It would make for an attractive landing spot, but not nearly as interesting as him just staying at Buffalo and feasting on MACtion.
Wayne Taulapapa, RB: Virginia → Washington
I’ve mentioned before on my podcasts and in my writings that Kalen Deboer being hired at Washington was one of the biggest offensive turnarounds a school could achieve this offseason. Many are hoping the offenses he was able to put together at Indiana, and Fresno State can come together quickly. He already has his QB in Penix or Huard, and receivers in Odunze and McMillan. However, there’s one piece of the puzzle still missing: RB. Last year, Ronnie Rivers finished as the RB65, with injuries limiting him in several games. He finished with 161 attempts for 788 yards and five touchdowns and 34 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Many have been wondering who will step up and take over as a receiving back for DeBoer’s offense this year. New Mexico transfer Aaron Dumas seemed like a likely candidate, but former Cavalier, Wayne Taulapapa, has thrown his hat into the ring here. Keep an eye out in spring reports about which RB emerges, as they could be a great value later in CFB fantasy drafts.
Demond Demas: Texas A&M → ???
Typically, if a former 5-star player enters the portal, they’re up in the main portion of this report. However, given the legal circumstances surrounding Demas and his history, I won’t spend too much time on this. I’d be shocked if a P5 school looks to land Demas. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never played football again. If he lands at a lower-classification school, he’ll be worth a value in your CFB Fantasy this year. However, given the circumstances surrounding his legal troubles, I advise avoiding them at all costs.
Isaiah Winstead, WR: Toledo → East Carolina
East Carolina is an interesting case for CFB fantasy this year. Holton Ahlers once again returns as the starting QB for what is his last year with the program. However, he’ll be returning without wideout Tyler Snead, who finished as the WR59 last year, and CJ Johnson, who many have been excited about since his phenomenal freshman year, but could never replicate. Snead is off to the draft (why?), and Johnson has been suspended indefinitely. These vacated targets caused many CFF analysts to key in on RB Keaton Mitchell and TE Ryan Jones as the likely benefactors. However, former Toledo WR Isaiah Winstead has entered the mix. Winstead caught 38 balls for 520 yards and a touchdown the year before in Toledo. However, with Devin Maddox solidifying the role of WR1 and the rise of Matt Landers, Winstead took his talent elsewhere. Given his experience, I would expect Winstead to become a starter for the Pirates immediately. He could be a very nice sneaky play in deeper CFF leagues and best-ball leagues.
Jake Bailey, WR: Rice → SMU
I talked last week that Jake Bailey had to makings of a fascinating sleeper pick in CFB fantasy if he found the right spot to flourish. Unfortunately for all of us, he did not pick a spot like that. Instead, Bailey has made his way over to the very crowded WR room of the SMU Mustangs. This is a room that already contains Rashee Rice, Beau Corrales, Dylan Goffney, Joshua Moore, Roderick Daniels, and Jordan Kerley. Long story short, if Bailey can break into the top-3 receivers for this mustang offense, he’ll be interesting down the road. His CFB fantasy value is none, which is disappointing, given there were plenty of places he could go that could’ve used his talents.
Baylor Cupp, TE: Texas A&M → ???
I mentioned previously that TEs typically aren’t noteworthy enough to find their way onto this report, but here I am writing up yet another one. If you’ve followed the story of Baylor Cupp, you’ve followed a story of hype and pain. Cupp was the number one TE coming out of the 2019 class, and every year a segment of the CFB population hypes him up, given his recruiting pedigree. However, in three seasons at Texas A&M, he has yet to record a single stat. To say Cupp is snake-bitten by injuries is an absolute understatement. For two straight years, Cupp had been hit by a season-ending injury. In his freshman year, he broke his ankle. In his sophomore year, he dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum.
Finally, in 2021, Cupp was finally going to get his chance, but he lost out on reps to Jalen Wydermyer, who had become crucial to the Aggie offense, and Max Wright. Many expected Cupp to take over at TE, given that Wydermyer is now off to the NFL. However, it looks as if Cupp felt it was better to start anew at a different destination. In a year where the TE class feels exceptionally shallow, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to throw a dart on talent. If Cupp lands at a smaller program without a clear TE already, consider it someone to target in late rounds and see if it works out.
Top Available Transfers:
- JT Daniels: Georgia →???
- Emory Jones: Florida → ???
- Dematrius Davis: Auburn →???
- Camar Wheaton: Alabama →???
- Dylan McDuffie: → ???
- Andrew Van Buren: Boise St → ???
- Demond Demas: Texas A&M → ???
- Deion Smith: LSU →???
- Bru McCoy: USC → ???