August 18, 2008

Transfers hope to find place to shine

MORE: Top juco transfers |Top players returning from injury | Position battles worth watching

Who knew when USC beat Arkansas 50-14 in 2006 the Trojans would end up relying on two of their opponents to make a difference in 2008?

Quarterback Mitch Mustain and wide receiver Damian Williams played in the 2006 opener for the Razorbacks, but transferred to the Trojans at the end of the season.

USC is counting on both to make a difference this season. The Trojans are looking to Williams to boost an underachieving receiver corps, while Mustain has moved into the starting role at least temporarily now that Mark Sanchez is hurt.

This particular list does not include junior college transfers. You can find them here (link this up to other story).

Here is a look at 12 key transfers this season:

FRESH STARTERS
MICHIGAN STATE DE TREVOR ANDERSON from Cincinnati
BUZZ: It took a little work, but Anderson finally was able to join his former coach at Michigan State. Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly originally refused Anderson's release to Michigan State, which is coached by Mark Dantonio. A graduate of Detroit Crockett Technical, Anderson could help Michigan State forget about All-Big Ten defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic. Anderson started 21 games and recorded 21.5 tackles for a loss in two seasons with the Bearcats.
LOUISIANA TECH QB TAYLOR BENNETT from Georgia Tech
BUZZ: Hopes were high for Bennett after he passed for 326 yards in a 38-35 loss to West Virginia in the Gator Bowl after the 2006 season. But he struggled at Tech last season and wasn't a good fit for new coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense. Bennett is eligible immediately under the NCAA's rule allowing graduate students to transfer without penalty if the first school does not offer their desired Masters program. If Bennett plays as he did in the Gator Bowl, Louisiana Tech (5-7 last season) could get its first bowl bid since 2001.
CALIFORNIA WR NYAN BOATENG from Florida
BUZZ: Boateng never cracked Florida's deep rotation of receivers. At Cal, he gets a fresh start on a team that needs to replace its top three receivers. At 6 feet 2 and 210 pounds, he gives Cal a different dimension than last season's smaller receivers. Boateng may need time to shake off the rust, though: He hasn't played a full season since his junior year of high school because of injuries and his transfer.
LOUISVILLE LB James Bryant from Miami
BUZZ: Yes, another Miami linebacker makes his way to Louisville. Nate Harris signed with Miami before ending up at Louisville and became a key contributor for the 2006 Big East title team. Things didn't go as well for Willie Williams when he made the Miami-to-Louisville transition. Bryant had his own troubles at Miami, shuffling between special teams, linebacker and fullback and being suspended for his role in the '06 brawl with Florida International. Louisville hopes he can contribute because the Cardinals are dangerously thin at linebacker.
CINCINNATI QB DEMETRIUS JONES from Notre Dame
BUZZ: Jones started the first game of Notre Dame's disastrous 3-9 season before transferring. Kelly favored a transfer (Ben Mauk) over veteran Dustin Grutza once before, so Jones is in good stead. But he'll have to wait because he had surgery on his throwing shoulder when he first arrived at Cincinnati and is not physically ready to be the No. 1 quarterback. He could play 12-15 snaps in early games, though.
FLORIDA RB EMMANUEL MOODY from USC
BUZZ: So far, Moody hasn't been the cure-all for Florida's tailback woes. Kestahn Moore has retained the starting tailback position and redshirt freshman Chris Rainey made the bigger splash during spring practice. Moody - a former four-star prospect - rushed for 459 yards as a true freshman at USC, so he has the ability to make a great impact.

USC QB MITCH MUSTAIN from Arkansas
BUZZ: The injury to Mark Sanchez opens the door for Mustain. Sanchez dislocated his left knee cap early in preseason practice, leaving his status uncertain for the opener against Virginia. With Sanchez out, Mustain will compete with redshirt freshman Aaron Corp for the job. Mustain was 8-0 as a starter during his true freshman season at Arkansas.
MARYLAND FS ANTWINE PEREZ From USC
BUZZ: Perez, a New Jersey native, played as a backup as a true freshman at USC before transferring closer to home. Perez, a Rivals100 prospect in the 2006 class, remains in a competition with converted wide receiver Terrell Skinner for the starting free safety spot.

OLE MISS QB JEVAN SNEAD From Texas
BUZZ: How desperate is Ole Miss for a quarterback? In the four seasons since Eli Manning left, Rebels quarterbacks have completed only 50.9 percent of their passes while throwing 61 interceptions and 42 touchdowns. Snead, a Texas native, originally committed to Florida before changing his mind after the Gators received a commitment from Tim Tebow. After signing at Texas, Snead lost out to Colt McCoy in the quarterback competition. Now Snead gets a fresh start for new coach Houston Nutt.
MICHIGAN QB STEVEN THREET From Georgia Tech
BUZZ: Threet's transfer from Georgia Tech was barely a blip on the radar when it happened. He enrolled early, then lasted only one spring at Georgia Tech before returning to his home state. But with the coaching change at Michigan, Threet now is the Wolverines' starter. Chad Henne is gone, as is Arkansas-bound transfer Ryan Mallett. Threet (6-5/228) has some mobility, but he's no Pat White.
TENNESSEE TE BRANDON WARREN From Florida State
BUZZ: Warren still is awaiting word on hardship appeals to the SEC and the NCAA, but if he plays he will be a dangerous weapon in the Tennessee offense. As a true freshman at Florida State, Warren caught 28 passes for 301 yards. Last season, Warren didn't play football while enrolled at a Knoxville-area community college. Though his status is uncertain, Warren has been a standout in fall camp so far.
USC WR DAMIAN WILLIAMS From Arkansas
BUZZ: Williams was one of two Arkansas transfers to land at USC, along with former high school teammate Mitch Mustain. As ridiculous as it sounds, USC's wide receiver position needs a boost. Each member of the two-deep depth chart was a four- or five-star recruit, but they didn't perform that way last year. Williams caught 19 passes for 235 yards as a true freshman on a Darren McFadden-led Arkansas team.

OTHERS OF TO WATCH: DT Ryan Bain, Akron (from Iowa); CB Coye Francies, San Jose State (from Oregon State); WR Jamere Holland, Oregon (from USC); QB Kirby Freeman, Baylor (from Miami); QB Jonathan Garner, Marshall (from Georgia Tech); DT Chris Lewis, Fresno State (from Miami); WR Daniel Lofton, Hawaii (from California); G Joe McMahon, Central Michigan (from Iowa State); LB Cobrani Mixon, Kent State (from Michigan); DT Chris Perry, Texas Tech (from Miami); QB Kyle Reed, San Jose State (from California); DE Jeff Schweiger, San Jose State (from USC); WR Reyn Willis, East Carolina (from Alabama).

MORE: Top juco transfers |Top players returning from injury | Position battles worth watching

David Fox is a national college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.



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