SEC transfers to watch 2021
TJ Finley, QB, Auburn
A year ago, Bo Nix was the clear starting quarterback at Auburn. After a disappointing season in 2020, that now seems to be in question. TJ Finley himself has even said he's aiming to take Nix's job under center. A three-star recruit, Finley ended up starting five games as a freshman at LSU and went 2-3 in those games. He was far from spectacular but showed promising development. He is a big player but not overly mobile. In the past, Auburn has wanted more dual-threat players at quarterback, but Bryan Harsin has to go with the best choice for the team. If that ends up being Finley, he can definitely make an impact.
Joe Milton, QB, Tennessee
Milton received high praise entering last season as the starter for Michigan, yet largely failed to live up to the hype. He transfers to Tennessee and will be competing for the Vols' starting job with grad transfer Hendon Hooker from Virginia Tech. Both players bring a dual-threat presence, but I would say Milton has the higher ceiling. For whatever reason, quarterbacks have not experienced great development at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, and playing in a fast-paced offense like Josh Heupel has been known to run could be a great fit for Milton.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Levis has officially been named the Wildcats' starting quarterback for 2021. He wasn't able to beat out Sean Clifford for the Penn State job and gets a fresh start after decent performances in limited appearances. He was the number two recruit in the state of Connecticut coming out of high school and finally gets a shot.
Demarkcus Bowman, RB, Florida
Bowman is one of many who have been affected by Clemson's excellent recruiting and deep roster. When teams become that consistently good, great players can slip through the cracks because there are limited reps available. In Bowman's case, he has yet to see the field in college after leaving high school as the No. 23 recruit in the nation. Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis will get the bulk of the carries, but Bowman should get every opportunity to become RB3 for the Gators.
Arik Gilbert, TE/WR, Georgia
Gilbert was one of the most heralded recruits in recent classes. He's a former Gatorade High School Player of the Year and joined LSU as an early enrollee following their national championship season. In his short college career so far, Gilbert was named to the SEC's All-Freshman team. He's listed on Georgia's roster as a wide receiver after playing tight end at LSU. At 6'5" 248 lbs, Gilbert presents a massive matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and a unique skillset reminiscent of former Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
Wan'dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
Robinson has All-Conference potential written all over him. He was clearly Nebraska's best receiver and most versatile playmaker the last two years. He gained over 1,000 all-purpose yards as a freshman in 2019 and led the Huskers in receiving last season. While Josh Ali returns in the WR1 role, Robinson will bring a speed dimension and vertical threat that the Wildcats have been missing on offense and game-changing potential on special teams.
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Williams is another top 150 player who joined a deep roster and struggled to find consistent playing time at Ohio State. It's pretty rare that those players end up at another deep program like Alabama, but the Crimson Tide has lost plenty of talented receivers to the pros in recent seasons. John Metchie III and Slade Bolden are the only other two experienced upperclassmen at the position, so Williams can just slide right into the lineup.
Mookie Cooper, WR, Missouri
Cooper is another player who didn't crack Ohio State's loaded receiver lineup but will get plenty of opportunities at Missouri. He's a former Under Armour All-American and was the third-best high school player in Missouri in the class of 2020. Cooper is projected to start in the slot for the Tigers, where he can use his speed to his advantage.
Makai Polk, WR, Mississippi State
Polk was a top-100 high school player in California and had a promising start to his career as a freshman at Cal in 2019. However, his playing time dwindled in 2020 and he decided to pursue other options. He should enter immediately as the No. 2 receiver to Malik Heath in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense. Bulldog receivers weren't as good as they had hoped in 2020, so Polk will be a big part of improving the receiving corps.
JaVonta Payton, WR, Tennessee
A transfer from Mississippi State. Payton started sparingly for the Bulldogs and was a key role player in the offense. At Tennessee, he will get more playing time and a chance to show his true potential. He can be a big-play threat, which may make him the top receiver for the Vols. He also has some return ability, if they choose to use him there.
Jamire Calvin, WR, Mississippi State
Mike Leach brings a familiar face into Starkville. It's been a rocky couple of seasons for Calvin with an injury causing him to miss 2019 and only playing four games in 2020. However, in his first two seasons, Calvin amassed over 700 receiving yards and four touchdowns on more than 70 catches. His familiarity with Coach Leach should give him a leg up on the competition among the slot receivers, which gives him a great chance to return to his most productive form.
Demetris Robertson, WR, Auburn
Robertson never made a huge impact at Georgia yet was a reliable player when called upon. His transfer to Auburn comes at an opportune time as the Tigers are looking to replace their top three receivers. Robertson's experience in the SEC could be an important factor in the competition and led to a breakout season.
Jahcon Pearson, WR, Ole Miss
Pearson is a two-time All-CUSA player who had a career year in 2019 for Western Kentucky. That year he finished second in the conference in receptions and ninth in yards. It may be difficult for him to get as many opportunities as Ole Miss has a deep receiving corps, but he will make the most of his chances.
Ahmarean Brown, WR, South Carolina
Brown was a two-year starter at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have always been a run-heavy team, but Brown made the most out of his limited opportunities. At South Carolina, he should get the chance to show what he can do in a more balanced offense. He enters the year as a key backup with the possibility to enter the starting lineup later in the season.
Antonio Shelton, DL, Florida
Shelton played in 40 games for Penn State and was a valuable member of the defensive front. After earning honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition last season, he should become a vital cog on an already stacked defensive line for the Gators.
Henry To'oTo'o, LB, Alabama
To'oTo'o started for two years at Tennessee and quickly became a tackling menace, leading the Vols in tackles during each season and ranking among the best in the SEC. He was also a highly-rated high school player. Linebackers of his caliber rarely become available and Alabama was a clear beneficiary of the turmoil in Tennessee's program. To'oTo'o is a future NFL player and an immediate starter on this defense.
Mike Jones Jr, LB, LSU
Jones Jr was a rotational player for Clemson and should be a sight for sore eyes in Baton Rouge. After winning the national title, the Tigers' effort on defense was abysmal in 2020. Jones can slide right into the lineup and be a leader for years to come on the LSU defense.
Jordan Strachan, LB, South Carolina
The Gamecocks are adding one of the nation's best pass-rushers. After missing 2019 with an injury, Strachan rebounded to lead the country in sacks (10.5) in 2020. With so many good offenses in the conference, Strachan will be a key member of the South Carolina front seven.
Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
One of the best transfers of this year and a late addition to the Bulldogs. Kendrick is a former receiver who quickly became one of the country's top corners after making the switch. He is a two-year starter and two-time All-ACC player. Even if Georgia hadn't lost so many defensive backs from last year's team, Kendrick would have been a starter. He's a probable first-round pick in next year's draft if everything checks out.
Tykee Smith, S, Georgia
Two-time All-America and All-Big 12. Smith is another fantastic addition for Kirby Smart and company as they try to fill in the back end of the defense. One of the most versatile players in the country will get a shot to show his game in the country's premier conference.
Allie Green, CB, Missouri
Two-year starter with great size and a knack for breaking up passes. Green gives Missouri a legitimate top corner to go along with emerging sophomore Ennis Rakestraw. The SEC and its receivers will be a good test for his capabilities at the next level.
Dreshun Miller, CB, AUburn
Miller has prototypical NFL size and will prove his worth in the SEC. He's a former JUCO transfer who broke out for West Virginia in 2020 with 31 tackles and eight pass breakups. He'll be a big-time addition to go along with Roger McCreary, Smoke Monday, and Nehemiah Pritchett.