August 3, 2007

Transfers a boon for some teams


Many college football programs around the nation are hoping to find difference-makers that were either playing on the scout team or in junior college last season.

Transfers can bolster a team with instant experience and talent, filling a key piece of the puzzle for a winning team. Just ask Florida, who added Ryan Smith from Utah before the 2006 season. Smith had eight interceptions last year for the national champions.

Division I and junior college transfers can be either boom (Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman, South Carolina's Jasper Brinkley) or bust (Ole Miss' Brent Schaeffer). will try to sort out which teams will receive instant impacts from their transfers.

Our list is led by Nebraska, which is trying to win the Big 12 for the first time since 1999. Its top transfer is also looking for a return to the college football spotlight.

Sam Keller was a rising star in the Pac-10 before a quarterback controversy sent him packing from Arizona State to the Cornhusker State. Top 10 Transfers
1. Nebraska
Quarterback Sam Keller (Arizona State) and safety Larry Asante (junior college)
Nebraska insists its quarterback job is still up for grabs. We believe Keller will claim the job and flourish in Lincoln. Keller was en route to a record season, passing for 20 touchdowns and 2,165 yards in seven starts in 2005 before being sidelined with a hand injury. When Keller recovered before the 2006 season, then-Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter originally named Keller the starter. Koetter then flip-flopped the QBs, precipitating Keller's transfer. Asante, ranked the No. 9 junior college player in the country for 2007, will be a favorite to claim a starting safety spot in the Cornhuskers' secondary. These two transfers could be the difference between a Big 12 title and a second-place finish in the Big 12 North.
2. Louisville
Cornerback Woodny Turenne (junior college) and linebacker Willie Williams (junior college via Miami)
New coach Steve Kragthorpe will have two defenders from South Florida he hopes will help his team to a second consecutive Big East title. The Cardinals lost their starting cornerbacks and free safety to graduation. U of L should get instant help from Turenne, the No. 1 junior college prospect for 2007. Turenne graduated from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stranahan before intercepting 13 passes in two seasons at the College of The Sequoias in California. Williams was the top linebacker in the class of 2004, but also was reportedly arrested 11 times as a minor. He left Miami after two seasons and racked up nine sacks in four games at West Los Angeles Community College. Since leaving Miami, Williams appears to have stayed out of trouble. Neither Turenne nor Williams have arrived on campus, meaning both will have to earn their starting jobs in the fall. If both play up to their potential, the Louisville defense should recover from the loss of seven starters.
3. South Florida
Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie (Iowa State)
After two transfers, McKenzie appears to have found a home at South Florida. McKenzie played at Michigan State as a true freshman. He finished with 129 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss at Iowa State in 2007. Because of an NCAA waiver of transfer rules, McKenzie will be immediately eligible. Good thing, too. South Florida's chances to break through in the Big East could depend on McKenzie replacing All-Big East linebacker Stephen Nicholas. McKenzie will have to switch to strongside linebacker after starting 12 games in the middle for the Cyclones.
4. Oklahoma
Offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (junior college) and linebacker Mike Reed (junior college)
Whether it's Joey Halzle, Sam Bradford or Keith Nichol, whoever claims the Oklahoma quarterback job won't have much experience. The Sooners' quarterback, though, could get a major boost if Loadholt hangs onto the starting left tackle position. At 6-foot-8, 350 pounds, Loadholt is certainly physically imposing. He also had the athleticism to average a double-double while playing basketball in high school. Reed, the No. 2 junior college prospect in 2007, had an outstanding spring but ballooned from 250 pounds to around 270 from spring practice to summer workouts. To reclaim the middle linebacker spot Reed will have to hold off Ryan Reynolds, who is recovering from a knee injury.
5. BYU
Quarterback Max Hall (Arizona State)
The BYU quarterback race ended early. Hall claimed the job after fellow QB Cade Cooper sustained a season-ending foot injury in the spring game. Cooper subsequently transferred. Hall, who went to the same high school as former BYU quarterback John Beck, is again stepping into Beck's shoes. It will be tough to have the same results as Beck, who led BYU to a Mountain West title last year and finished second in the nation in passing efficiency. Hall has yet to play in a college game, but went 27-1 and won two state titles in his final two seasons of high school.
6. Tennessee
Cornerback DeAngelo Willingham (junior college), safety Nevin McKenzie (junior college) and wide receiver Kenny O'Neal (junior college)
Vols safety Jonathan Hefney will have plenty of new faces around him in the secondary with three starters gone. If anything, Willingham and McKenzie will make the competition interesting for veterans (senior safety Jarod Parrish) and rookies (true freshman Eric Berry). Tennessee is looking at several options to replace Robert Meachem and his school-record 1,298 receiving yards. One of those could be O'Neal, who was ranked second among junior college prospects. He will have to perform better in the fall than he did this spring to claim a featured spot in the offense.
7. Ole Miss
Linebackers Tony Fein (junior college) and Ashlee Palmer (junior college)
At 25, Fein will give the Ole Miss defense a jolt of maturity. At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, he could also give the Rebels the size to replace All-American Patrick Willis at middle linebacker. Fein spent more than three years in the Army and a year in Iraq before going to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. Despite the hiatus, Fein was a junior college All-American last year. The versatile Palmer ended the spring competing with Antonio Turner for a starting spot at outside linebacker.
8. Georgia
Offensive guard Scott Haverkamp (junior college) and defensive end Jarius Wynn (junior college)
With only six scholarship offensive linemen returning from last year's team, Georgia got a much-needed boost on its line during the spring. Haverkamp was one of the bright spots, claiming the starting right guard position. The Bulldogs didn't get as much production as they had hoped from end Quentin Moses last year, but they need to replace Moses and veteran end Charles Johnson. Wynn enters the fall on the second team, but will compete with Marcus Howard and Roderick Battle for playing time.
9. Oregon
Defensive end William Tukuafu (junior college)
Ducks defensive ends were hit hard by injuries last season, contributing to a No. 65 rank in sacks and No. 105 position in pass defense. Starter Darius Sanders (nine sacks last year) is gone, opening the door for Tukuafu. Ranked the seventh-best junior college prospect, Tukuafu made a push for the starting job opposite Nick Reed during the spring. The 23-year-old Tukuafu had little trouble adjusting to the Ducks defense. He will be a welcome addition on a team whose returning sack leader had only 3.5 last year.
10. Hawaii
Running back Leon Wright-Jackson (Nebraska), safety Erik Robinson (junior college) and cornerback Ryan Mouton (junior college)
If Hawaii is to have any hope of reaching a BCS bowl, the Warriors will have to go undefeated. Wright-Jackson was the odd-man out in Nebraska's running back rotation heading into 2006. Hawaii was more than happy to add his speed to the nation's top offense from a year ago. He may not get many carries in Hawaii's pass-oriented offense (Nate Ilaoa led the team with 131 carries last year), but he will be used as a receiver (Ilaoa had 67 catches). Robinson and Mouton could both grab starting spots on a defense that ranked 93rd in the country in yards per game last year.
The Rivals five: Best of 2008
Who will be among the top transfers for 2008? Here are five top players that transferred after last season and will have to sit out the 2007 campaign per NCAA rules.
1. USC quarterback Mitch Mustain (Arkansas)
A five-star quarterback in the class of 2006, Mustain went 8-0 as a starter before his controversial exit from Arkansas.
2. USC wide receiver Damian Williams (Arkansas)
Williams, a freshman All-SEC selection, preceded his former high school and college teammate in joining the Trojans. He will spend his redshirt year recovering from shoulder surgery.
3. Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead (Texas)
Snead would have had to sit behind Colt McCoy at Texas, but here he will be the heir apparent at quarterback to seniors Brent Schaeffer and Seth Adams.
4. Connecticut quarterback Zach Frazer (Notre Dame)
Notre Dame narrowed its quarterback competition from four to three before the 2007 season. Guess who was No. 4? Frazer was a Rivals250 member in the class of 2006.
5. Maryland safety Antwine Perez (USC)
A Rivals100 member in the class of 2006, Perez would have to fight for playing time in USC's secondary.
Other transfers to watch
Arizona State defensive end Luis Vasquez (junior college)
Army defensive tackle Ted Bentler (Iowa)
Baylor quarterback Michael Machen (Kent State)
Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk (Wake Forest)
Colorado safety Daniel Dykes (Idaho)
Connecticut quarterback Tyler Lorenzen (junior college)
Florida State defensive end Brian Coulter and tight end Jonathan Hannah (junior college)
Houston quarterback Al Pena (Oklahoma State)
Kansas State offensive tackle Alesana Alesana, safety Gary Chandler and linebacker Chris Patterson (junior college)
Maryland quarterback Josh Portis (Florida)
Memphis offensive guard Malcolm Rawls (Tennessee) and safety Tony Bell (Auburn)
Michigan linebacker Austin Painter (junior college)
Minnesota defensive end Raymond Henderson (Tennessee)
Purdue offensive lineman Elliott Hood (Vanderbilt)
Southern Miss defensive tackle Sean Merrill (LSU)
Troy defensive end Dion Gales (junior college)
Utah running back Matt Asiata (junior college)
UTEP wide receiver Fred Rouse and quarterback Lorne Sam (Florida State)
Washington State offensive tackle Vaughn Lesuma and safety Terry Mixon (junior college)
Wisconsin quarterback Allan Evridge (Kansas State)

David Fox is a national writer for He can be reached at

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