Potential 2023 College Football Transfer Candidates

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Potential 2023 College Football Transfer Candidates

Potential 2023 College Football Transfer Candidates

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Chris Marshall I Maria Lysaker/USA Today Sports

The transfer portal has given players new opportunities to find success across the country and work in a system that fits their style of play.

The fight for a starting role has gradually shifted over the years with the addition of instant-impact players to rosters every offseason. Coaching staffs can find the right players for their scheme and recruit as if they were high school prospects, but most of them already have film from the collegiate level.

Some of the major reasons that a player decides to enter the portal include limited snaps on their current team, a change in the coaching staff or a breakout campaign. If a player can cement themselves as a consistent contributor, they could transfer to a high-level program, while a player that's behind a budding star may choose to leave and find a bigger role.

The past few seasons have shown what the transfer portal can do to the college football landscape, reviving some programs while turning others into dark horse College Football Playoff candidates.

The following players may be in the market to enter their names in the transfer portal.

Hudson Card, Texas QB

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It's been an up-and-down season for the Texas Longhorns, but their program is clearly headed in the right direction under head coach Steve Sarkisian.

The process to compete for a national championship may be slower than what Longhorns fans had hoped for, but the focus may be on building a team to compete with SEC programs like Alabama and Georgia.

There's usually a star quarterback involved when a program is trending up, and with the Longhorns, that's young star Quinn Ewers. They seem to have handed the keys to Ewers, with another upcoming phenom in the passenger seat, Arch Manning.

This leaves quarterback Hudson Card in a difficult situation, knowing he'll serve as the backup if he stays in the burnt orange.

Card has been with Texas since the 2020 season, never having the full opportunity to carve out a starting role with proven signal callers in the same room. He currently has six touchdowns and 923 yards on the season with a 69.2 completion percentage. The Texas native had a solid "tryout" earlier in the season when he replaced an injured Ewers for a couple of games.

He showed that he could be a full-time starter in the FBS as long as a team is willing to commit to his skills and give him a chance. The only thing that may stop Card is the fact that he grew up in Austin and wants to stay home, but he'll definitely have the chance to play meaningful minutes if he were to leave.

Chris Marshall, Texas A&M WR

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Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Texas A&M has talent throughout its roster, but it looks like rankings and high school popularity may have been the No. 1 priority for the Aggies to secure in recent classes.

One of the most notable high school classes in the history of CFB recruiting is Texas A&M's 2022 freshman haul. They brought in the highest-ranked class that any recruiting site has ever seen, with eight 5-star prospects and 20 4-star prospects, per 247Sports Composite rankings.

One of the biggest stars on the blue-chip list includes wide receiver Chris Marshall. He had his eyes set on producing for a high-level program early in his college career. Some of the other programs that were heavily involved in his recruitment were USC and Alabama. However, Marshall doesn't have too many highlights on the stat sheet, securing 11 receptions and 108 yards this season.

There are bound to be multiple players on Texas A&M's current roster that jump ship after dealing with a dramatic environment for the past few months. The Aggies had high expectations heading into the season, listed as the No. 6 team in the country, but a culture change is the biggest necessity in College Station.

It's a guessing game for whoever plans on leaving Texas A&M, but the coaching staff and Marshall seem to have a strained relationship. Marshall has been suspended twice this season—once in September for missing curfew and last month for a locker room incident that has left him off the team indefinitely—so he may be looking to take his talents elsewhere next year.

Jacolby Criswell, UNC QB

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Rich Von Biberstein/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels hit the jackpot with quarterback Drake Maye. Although there are features in his game that need improvement, he's already considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Maye is No. 1 in the country with 31 passing touchdowns and 3,477 total yards. He rarely makes mistakes, so the Tar Heel staff should be confident in riding the Maye train for several years.

Backup Jacolby Criswell had to wait his turn behind previous star Sam Howell, and he may be getting flashbacks from having to sit on the sideline for so long.

Criswell has been at UNC for three years, and it doesn't seem like wasting more eligibility or time is the right choice. He should weigh his options in the transfer portal, with several years left to play and see where he can compete for a starting role.

Criswell is a former 4-star prospect who was projected to be a Power-Five starter by 247 Sports' Gabe Brooks. From his recent film, he's known to have a strong arm as a dual-threat quarterback with a solid frame. He's thrown 17 completions for 199 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 114 yards and another score in his three-year tenure with the Tar Heels.

The main factor for Criswell is finding the right team that has a history of playing with a running quarterback. Criswell should enter his name, knowing that being trapped in a quarterback room with Maye is a situation that many players don't want to get stuck in.

Ja'Varrius Johnson, Auburn Tigers WR

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John Reed/USA Today Sports

Auburn is another program with an extremely confusing future, currently led by interim head coach Carnell Williams. The Tigers started the season with a 3-1 record, which quickly took a turn for the worst. They're on a five-game losing streak, having won their last contest in September, which was an overtime victory over Missouri.

The Tigers are far behind most of the programs in the SEC, having to play in the hardest division in college football. The SEC West highlights teams like Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss, so it will take Auburn several years to compete with those programs again.

This may be the most intriguing head coaching position available, and players may want to wait on that hire before they decide to depart the program.

Their leading receiver Ja'Varrius Johnson is a name to watch for potential portal candidates. Johnson entered the transfer portal following the 2021 season, but reports mentioned that he stayed because of his relationship with former head coach Bryan Harsin. His final judgment to stay with the team led him to one touchdown on 23 receptions and 428 yards this season.

Following Harsin's firing, Johnson is left on the Plains while playing with a run-first quarterback in Robby Ashford. He may be already mentally checked out, looking back at his choice to stay as a mistake. Auburn's offense is levels away from being SEC-competent, so there isn't much of a reason for Johnson to stay with the team.

Carson Steele, Ball State RB

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Every year there's a handful of stars from lower-level FBS teams that shine in their respective positions, giving themselves a chance to climb up the conference ladder.

One of the most productive running backs in the nation has been Ball State's Carson Steele. He's drawn up an impressive résumé and will likely garner attention from a Power-Five program if he decides to leave the Cardinals.

Ball State is the No. 3 team in the MAC West with a 5-5 record. Aside from the 2020 season, the Cardinals have fielded a mediocre team year after year. Steele may be looking to find success on a bigger stage, although he'll have to sacrifice his heavy workload. He currently has 12 touchdowns and 1,280 yards on 249 attempts this season.

The biggest reason for Steele's possible move is a matured frame, standing at 6'1" and 215 pounds. There's always talent at the bottom of the FBS, but a massive issue for some teams has been recruiting players who aren't physically prepared for a stronger, faster game.

Steele seems to have the right tools to make an impact on a team in 2023. In most cases, players will enter the transfer portal to find a higher snap count, but Steele should be searching for a healthier role with a chance to improve with an experienced coaching staff.

He's only in his second year of college with a combined 441 carries. Steele should look for a team that utilizes him wisely and helps him improve different aspects of his game rather than throwing him into the fire with the offense on his back.

from Bleacher Report

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