The transfer portal is alive and well after the one-time transfer with immediate eligibility rule was enacted earlier this offseason. We’ve seen a lot of big name players make a move to new teams, including several prominent guys who have ended up in the SEC.
Below are the top 10 additions to the SEC coming out of the transfer portal. Some of the players were already playing in the conference, but are now with new teams. Others will be making their first appearance in college football’s top conference.
So who made the list?
Honorable mention: Dreshun Miller, CB, Auburn; Randy Charlton, EDGE, Mississippi State; Mookie Cooper, WR, Missouri; Donovan Kaufman, S, Vanderbilt; Jahmir Johnson, OL, Texas A&M
10. Chance Campbell, LB, Ole Miss (from Maryland)
Lane Kiffin has things figured out on offense. That unit can score with almost anyone, but problems persist on the defensive side of the football. Campbell racked up 42 tackles in only four games last year, which averages to 10.5 per game. He also led the team in tackles for loss (5.5) while posting 1.5 sacks.
The defense lacked a field general, Campbell can be that guy in Oxford. His impact should be felt almost immediately, but don’t expect big plays. Instead, expect a steady, consistent presence on the second level.
9. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (from Ohio State)
Over the last two years, Alabama has lost four first-round receivers: Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. That’s a lot of talent and experience to replace. The talent has been replaced with the 2021 recruiting class, but it’s the experience that is still lacking.
That’s where Williams comes into play. He’s played in 19 games over the last two seasons for Ohio State, accumulating 15 catches for 266 yards (17.7 yards per catch) and three scores. That’s not a ton of production, but the experience will be valuable while the younger guys come on.
8. TJ Finley, QB, Auburn (from LSU)
Finley’s presence in Auburn should do wonders for Bo Nix. Some people believe Finley will push Nix for the starting job, and that may very well be the case. But instead, I think adding the former LSU signal caller does two things.
First, I think it allows Auburn to use Nix’s legs more confidently. Now that there’s legitimate depth on The Plains, the coaching staff doesn’t have to worry about utilizing one of Nix’s biggest strengths. I also think his presence pushes Nix to get better, as there hasn’t been much competition at the position since his arrival.
7. Jordan Strachan, EDGE, South Carolina (from Georgia State)
South Carolina has done a good job of recruiting and fielding quality defensive linemen over the last several years. Jadeveon Clowney and Javon Kinlaw are some notable names in the NFL, and the current crop includes guys such as Zacch Pickens, Jordan Burch and now Strachan.
The Georgia State transfer is on the lighter side at only 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, but he’s an explosive edge rusher who tied for the nation’s lead in sacks in 2020 (10.5). For Shane Beamer’s first season as a head coach, adding a talent like Strachan cannot be overstated.
6. Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia (from Clemson)
Georgia lost a majority of its secondary after last season. Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Richard LeCounte III and Mark Webb are all in the NFL now, so experience was a major issue entering 2021.
The Bulldogs addressed safety with the additions of Brandon Turnage and Tykee Smith, but adding Kendrick at cornerback is the home run. This is a former five-star who has been selected as a First- and Second-Team All-ACC performer in his career. If he can stay out of trouble, he should do just fine in Athens.
5. Demarkcus Bowman, RB, Florida (from Clemson)
Florida struggled to run the football in 2020, but that should be easier this season. The mobility Emory Jones brings to the table should help production, but it’s the threat of that mobility that should provide the biggest boost for the running backs.
Bowman is a former five-star prospect from the 2020 class who spent only two games behind Travis Etienne before choosing to leave Clemson. With Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis and Lorenzo Lingard all in the fold, Bowman may not be the top back in Gainesville, but he’ll make an impact.
4. Mike Jones Jr., LB, LSU (from Clemson)
Whether it’s Kevin Minter, Kendall Beckwith, Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, Devin White, Patrick Queen or Jacob Phillips, LSU always seems to field talented, productive linebackers. This year should be no different.
After having success with Jabril Cox in 2020, the Tigers are now looking to dip back into the transfer portal and do it again with Mike Jones Jr. Damone Clark returns as well, but he took a major step back last season. Jones has a shot to be extremely productive in Daronte Jones’ defense.
3. Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky (from Nebraska)
Kentucky has been lacking a dynamic, playmaking wide receiver ever since Lynn Bowden Jr. moved to quarterback in 2019. Last year, the offensive line was rock solid and the run game was productive, but the passing game was abysmal.
The Wildcats still need to figure out the quarterback situation, but Robinson should help alleviate some of the struggles at wide receiver. The former Nebraska standout led the Cornhuskers in receptions (51), receiving yards (461) and receiving touchdowns (1) in 2020.
He’ll team up with Josh Ali to give Kentucky a solid 1-2 punch.
2. Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama (from Tennessee)
Alabama didn’t need a talent like To’o To’o, but they got him anyways. After a successful two-year stint in Knoxville, the former top-50 prospect will look to earn a starting job next to Christian Harris in Pete Golding’s defense — if he can beat out Jaylen Moody.
To’o To’o is excellent at diagnosing what offenses are trying to do, and he does a great job of getting downhill against the run. There are still areas that need improvement — particularly in coverage — but he’ll be an impact player for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
1. Arik Gilbert, TE, Georgia (from LSU)
Georgia has seen several of its pass-catchers get injured over the last couple of seasons. Dominick Blaylock and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint both suffered season-ending leg injuries in 2020, and George Pickens tore his ACL back in the spring.
That’s why adding Gilbert was so crucial for Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs. The former LSU tight end will play wide receiver in Athens, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He might not bring the same level of explosiveness as a Pickens, but at 6-5, 253 pounds, he’ll be extremely difficult to defend physically — especially with other big-bodied guys on the field such as Darnell Washington.
As long as the former five-star doesn’t have any issues academically, he could be the most impactful addition out of the transfer portal this season.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.