The college transfer portal is quickly becoming just as important as high school recruiting for college programs. Many would argue it’s even more important because, for the most part, the players in the transfer portal have proven themselves on the field. Further, the NCAA has instituted a new transfer rule that allows for a one-time free transfer for any player, granting them immediate eligibility with their new team. This rule has led to an unprecedented number of players entering the transfer portal and joining new colleges for the 2021 season. This has impacted the college landscape and the teams players left, but it has also created some interesting camp battles for the new teams players have joined. For this article, I will focus on the running backs arriving on new teams and what this means for their outlook and their new college programs.

Re’Mahn Davis – Transfers from Temple to Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt.com (Youtube)

Re’Mahn joined the Temple Owls in January of 2019. He started turning heads in summer camp and earned himself a share of the starting job with senior running back Jager Gardner. Davis put up some impressive numbers and came up just short on 1,000 total yards combined. He missed one game with an ankle sprain and played the second half of the season with it. He still finished his freshman season with a 28.89 dominator rating and landed on the first-team Freshman All-American team. His play also earn him a spot on the Doak Walker watch list for 2020. Entering the 2020 season Davis looked primed to be the starting running back. However, after splitting time in the backfield, Davis opted out after four games and entered the transfer portal. After a few weeks, he committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2019TempleAmericanFRRB121939364.881518112.1220811175.410
2020TempleAmericanSORB4783234.1112625.20903854.31
CareerTemple27112594.69272439.0229815025.011
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2021.

Signing with Vanderbilt and playing in the SEC will help boost Re’Mahn’s draft stock. He is talented enough to produce, even on a lower-ranked SEC team. Even with the other running backs on the roster, Davis is the best player they have in the running back room and should be the day one starter. While his ability running the ball is not in question, improving some of his work in the receiving game will help as well. Re’Mahn should produce for you on the college side and has NFL upside as well.

Eric Gray – Transfers from Tennessee to Oklahoma

www.rockytopinsider.com

A four-star recruit who joined Tennessee out of the 2019 recruiting class. While he didn’t show much his freshman season (single-digit snaps in all but three games) Gray grabbed everyone’s attention in the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against Indiana. In the game, he had one of the more incredible dead leg jukes on a defender you’ll see and he had a game-high 120 all-purpose yards. As a bonus, Gray also recovered an onside kick. With over 300 rushing yards combined in his last two games and securing the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl MVP, Gray’s stock was on the rise and many couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do in 2020.

While Gray out rushed Ty Chandler (157 for Gray and 100 for Chandler) the split was more than many expected. While some of this may have been Covid wreaking havoc on college football, Tennessee was going through all kinds of issues both on and off the field. Gray played in all nine games, but only started five. Tennessee would go on to have a brutal year. While splitting time with Chandler, Gray also had to endure multiple starting quarterbacks as well. After the season there was a mass exodus of players and coaches as a result of both the poor play and the recruiting scandal that marred Tennessee. Gray was one of those players, transferring to Oklahoma.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2019TennesseeSECFRRB131015395.34131158.811146545.75
2020TennesseeSECSORB91577724.94302548.5218710265.56
CareerTennessee25813115.18433698.6330116805.611
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2021.

Oklahoma

Gray joins a loaded running back room and a loaded offense in general. Oklahoma’s offense opened up last year when Rhamondre Stevenson started having success. Gray brings a three-down skill set to this backfield. While both Marcus Major and Seth McGowan are on the roster, it’s unlikely Gray would have transferred to Oklahoma if he was not going to be the lead running back. Sure, Gray is likely to lose some touches to Major and McGowan, but Gray is the best running back on the roster and his skillset is ideal for this offense. With a good season in Norman, Gray’s stock should rise and he’ll produce for you for a year on the college side of your campus to canton leagues.

Demarkcus Bowman – Transfers from Clemson to Florida

www.piodeportes.com

Clemson

When Clemson landed Bowman last season, fans were thrilled in the Gators landing one of the top running backs in the 2020 recruiting class. Bowman knew that with Travis Etienne returning for his senior season he would have to likely wait a season before being handed the reigns to the starting job. However, Bowman and his family went through some tragic events which led to Bowman wanting to be closer to home. After just two games with Clemson, he would enter the transfer portal and join the Florida Gators.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2020ClemsonACCFRRB29323.600009323.60
CareerClemson9323.600009323.60
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2021.

Florida

Florida immediately solved their running back problem bringing in the highly touted prospect. While we weren’t able to see much of him on the field last year, Bowman brings a nice blend of speed and elusiveness to this backfield. While I can’t imagine Florida would bring in Bowman to sit him, Pierce is still on the roster and is expected to get some carries. That being said, Bowman is far too talented to keep off the field. He should get early playing time and will produce for you on the college side of campus to canton leagues. Plus, he presents value with a potential NFL future.

Kenneth Walker III – Transfers from Wake Forest to Michigan State

. (Winston-Salem Journal/Andrew Dye)

Wake Forest

As a freshman in 2019, Walker played in all 13 games and finished second on the team in rushing yards with 579. He finished the season with a 5.9 yards per carry average. He set the Wake Forest school record with a 96-yard touchdown run against Rice, which was also the longest run in the ACC in 2019. He would finish the season third amongst freshman in rushing in the ACC.

In 2020 Walker split time with junior running back Christian Beal-Smith, who ended up out carrying him by 23 touches. Walker would still finish 2020 tied for 9th in the NCAA with 13 rushing touchdowns. At the end of the season, Walker entered the transfer portal, a day later he would commit to Michigan State.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2019Wake ForestACCFRRB13985795.943175.701015965.94
*2020Wake ForestACCSORB71195794.91333010.001226095.013
CareerWake Forest21711585.3176477.8022312055.417
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2021.

Michigan State

Michigan State saw multiple players leave via the transfer portal under Mel Tucker. Another running back joined joined the Spartans with Walker via the transfer portal in Harold Joiner III. They both join a loaded running back room with freshman Donovan Eaglin, junior Elijah Collins and sophomore Jordan Simmons. Even with the crowded backfield, Walker has the most talent. Walker should become the starter after spring camps but expect Simmons to get some carries as he appears to be the future of the Spartans’ backfield. Walker has college upside and is a potential NFL player.

Zach Charbonnet – Transfers from Michigan to UCLA

www.detroitnews.com

Michigan

In Charbonnet’s freshman season he played in 13 games. He carried the ball 149 times for 726 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was named Michigan’s Offensive Rookie of the Year after leading the team in scoring and becoming only the fourth running back to ever start as a freshman for the program. He was also named an honorable mention to Pro Football Focus’s All-Big Ten Team. Leading the team in carries and rushing yards as a freshman Charbonnet looked primed to take another step forward in the 2020 season.

Entering the 2020 season, and even with the Covid issues surrounding the Big Ten, Charbonnet was poised to be the lead back for the Michigan Wolverines. While Michigan only played five games for some reason unbeknownst to us, Charbonnet was relegated to a backup role, as both Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum out carried him. After the season ended Charbonnet entered the transfer portal and has committed to UCLA.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2019MichiganBig TenFRRB131497264.9118303.801577564.811
2020MichiganBig TenSORB5191246.516416.80251656.61
CareerMichigan1688505.11214715.101829215.112
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/21/2021.

UCLA

Charbonnet brings some veteran presence to the Bruins backfield joining graduate transfer Brittain Brown and freshman Deshun Murrell. Charbonnet is the most talented running back on the roster for the Bruins. On top of that, he now gets to play for head coach Chip Kelly, who has helped put both Joshua Kelley and Demetric Felton Jr. in the NFL in the past two seasons. Charbonnet is not only an accomplished runner but he can also contribute to the receiving game. He should produce as a top running back in 2021 and he has some NFL upside. However, realistically, Charbonnet probably stays in college for two more years.

Ty Chandler – Transfers from Tennessee to North Carolina

Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee

As a freshman in 2017 Chandler appeared in 12 games but only started one. In that first-career start Chandler returned the opening kickoff for 91 yards.

As a sophomore Chandler split time with Tim Jordan. Chandler scored a team-high seven touchdowns, four rushing, and three receiving. Chandler won the Offensive Player of the Year award for Tennessee as a result of his combined rushing and receiving production, including leading the team in rushing.

In his junior season, Chandler started nine games and played in all 13 games even while dealing with an injury. He led the Volunteers for the second straight season in rushing yards. Despite his production, freshman Eric Gray threatened Chandler’s starting job while Chandler dealt with injury.

With the way Eric Gray finished off the season in 2019, he was given the lead role in the backfield. While Chandler still had 100 rushing touches, Gray had 57 more carries in 2020. With the season over Chandler would enter the transfer portal and committed to North Carolina. Even in a shortened Volunteer career, Chandler would leave UT ranked fifth in the school’s history in all-purpose yards.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2017TennesseeSECFRRB12713054.321010810.80814135.12
2018TennesseeSECSORB111156305.54191839.631348136.17
*2019TennesseeSECJRRB121356554.9313634.801487184.93
2020TennesseeSECSRRB101004564.64161116.901165674.94
CareerTennessee42120464.913584658.0347925115.216
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/21/2021.

North Carolina

Due to the additional year and immediate eligibility, Chandler will likely be the starter for an explosive Tar Heels offense. But he will have to compete withs senior British Brooks, junior Josh Henderson, sophomore Elijah Green, and freshman devy darling Kamarro Edmonds. Regardless, Chandler is the perfect fit for the Tar Heels offense with his ability to run the ball mixed with his ability in the receiving game. With the way Mac Brown and co. deployed both Williams and Carter last year, I expect one of the other backs to get run alongside Chandler. Chandler will have some upside on the college side but I don’t see much of an NFL future for him.

Keaontay Ingram – Transfers from Texas to USC

Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Texas

As a freshman, Ingram made two starts and played in 13 games. He became the Longhorn’s first true freshman to score a rushing touchdown in a season opener since Jamaal Charles and Henry Milton in 2005. He spent the season splitting carries with graduate transfer Tre Watson.

In his true sophomore season, Ingram started all 13 games for the Longhorns. While Roschon Johnson would also get carries, Keaontay was the lead back. Ingram impressed at times even though he never took full control of the backfield. He capped off the season in the Alamo Bowl with his third multi-touchdown game of the year.

Before the start of the 2020 season, Texas would end up landing five-star freshman Bijan Robinson and many wondered how long it would take for him to see the field. Ingram started in three games and played in six. After an injury to Ingram, Bijan started seeing more playing time and carries. By December it was hard to keep Bijan off the field and reports started to surface about Ingram transferring. On January 14th Ingram entered the transfer portal. On January 26th he announced his commitment to USC.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2018TexasBig 12FRRB131427085.03271706.321698785.25
*2019TexasBig 12SORB131448535.97292428.3317310956.310
*2020TexasBig 12JRRB6532504.71111039.41643535.52
CareerTexas33918115.311675157.7640623265.717
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/21/2021.

USC

Ingram joins USC in a bit of turmoil. He should be a good fit for Graham Harrell’s offense. Leading rushers from last season, Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr, have yet to announce their intentions for 2021. Third-leading rusher Markese Stepp has entered the transfer portal. Ingram should get a shot to be the lead back. Ingram should produce in what is projected to be a high-powered offense for the Trojans. If he can have a good year he should be able to rebuild his NFL stock. He should be a producer on the college side, but does not appear to have much of an NFL future.

With recent changes to the rules of the transfer portal, we will likely see more players using this one-time rule in the future. As always the Campus 2 Canton crew will continue to monitor the ever-changing college football landscape. Stay locked into our transfer portal coverage as we tackle the wide receiver position next.

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