Sun Belt transfers to watch 2021
Jake Bentley, QB, South Alabama
It seems like Bentley has been in college for ten years. He began his career at South Carolina and was extremely productive, ranking among the Gamecocks' all-time leaders in completion percentage, completions, touchdown passes, passing yards, and total yards. He transferred to Utah for 2020 but did not display the same skill and poise which he had previously. South Alabama really needs a quarterback to run its offense well, and Bentley returning to his SEC form would be a huge benefit to the Jaguars.
James Graham, QB/WR, Georgia Southern
Graham had an impressive first college season at Georgia Tech but ultimately lost his starting job to Jeff Sims. Graham was the first Yellow Jackets quarterback to throw for over 1,000 yards since 2016 and seemed poised to take the team to a new level. He's now listed as a wide receiver at Georgia Southern and will look to use his speed to make an impact.
Chase Brice, QB, Appalachian State
Brice spent most of his early career sitting behind Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. After the 2019 season, he transferred to Duke and finally got the chance to start. It wasn't a great season for the Blue Devils, but Brice played well enough to deserve another shot. He started 11 games and has thrown for over 3,000 yards in his career. He'll get much more help with a deep receiving corps at App State and should be an impact player in the Sun Belt.
James Blackman, QB, Arkansas State
Blackman's impact will depend on how new head coach Butch Jones wants to use his quarterbacks. Incumbent starter Layne Hatcher should have a firm grip on the job as one of the program's all-tiime yardage leaders. By now most know Blackman's story. He was a highly recruited dual-threat quarterback when he started his career at Florida State, and had a promising start to his career with the Seminoles. However, his play deteriorated after his freshman season and he eventually transferred. The Red Wolves have used a two-quarterback system in the past, but this seems like it will be one or the other under center at this point. I would think Hatcher has the upperhand given his track record within the program.
Rhett Rodriguez, QB, Louisiana-Monroe
Rhett is the son of former Michigan, Arizona, and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez and joins his dad with the Warhawks. He played in 11 games at Arizona with mostly respectable numbers and is projected to start under center for ULM according to the current depth chart on Ourlads.com.
Alan Lamar, RB, Arkansas State
The former All-Ivy League player from Yale will form a backfield tandem with former All-Sun Belt running back Marcel Murray for Arkansas State. The team was more of a pass-centric team under Blake Anderson, but Butch Jones has run a more back-friendly offense during his career. Lamar had a fantastic 2018 season and can help this team as a RB2. He's just going to have to get back to his old form.
Kareem Walker, RB, South Alabama
South Alabama is suddenly a bit of a hotspot for Power 5 transfers. Walker started his career as a 4-star commit at Michigan and only ran for 68 yards after a redshirt season. He then played in junior college and returned to the FBS level at Mississippi State. The college production hasn't been there, but maybe he can find it this year for South Alabama.
Jahmir Smith, RB, Appalachian State
Camerun Peoples has earned the RB1 spot with his play over recent seasons, but don't overlook Smith's ability to contribute to the Mountaineers' offense. A top-20 recruit among high school running backs in 2018, he averaged 4.2 yards per carry in a crowded Notre Dame backfield. If given an opportunity to contribute, I think he can excel.
La'Damian Webb, RB, Troy
Webb went the JUCO route after high school and worked his way to Florida State. Although he spent just one season in Tallahassee, Webb was extremely productive. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and even achieved a 100-yard rushing game against North Carolina. BJ Smith and DK Billingsley will see the bulk of the carries, but Webb can contribute as well and is the future running back for the Trojans.
Te'vailance Hunt, WR, Arkansas State
Hunt's best year at TCU was in 2019, when he amassed 308 yards and a touchdown on 20 receptions. He was the No. 23 receiver recruit after a monster high school career and had many offers from Power 5 schools. Dahu Green returns to take over the WR1 role, but Hunt can be a great WR2 this season.
Nick McCann, DT, Texas State
McCann played in 38 games as a rotational player on the defensive line at Texas Tech. He's been a productive player in that role, and we'll see if he can handle the starting job at Texas State. Head coach Jake Spavital has made an effort to bring transfers in from bigger programs and McCann can be a huge part of improving the Bobcats' defense.
Shamar McCollum, LB, Georgia State
McCollum was a standout high school player in South Carolina and played two years as a reserve linebacker at Wake Forest. He contributed immediately at Wake Forest and seemed poised for a bigger role. Georgia State gets a player with fantastic potential who can start from the getgo.
Andrew Johnson, LB, Georgia Southern
Originally went to Oregon before entering the transfer portal. The experience in a program like that with the other linebackers around him should have him prepared for a bigger role at a program like this. He's not long, but he is a big player as an off-ball linebacker and can affect the game.
Khadry Jackson, LB, Georgia Southern
25 games in a limited capacity at North Carolina. Jackson is a former safety and will have have high expectations in coverage. He'll play on the outside and hope to make an impact for the Eagles.
Taiyon Palmer, CB, Troy
Palmer was the No. 19 cornerback nationally in high school. Like many players on these transfer lists, he was highly recruited but has not made a big impact at the collegiate level. In Palmer's case, he's had two season-ending injuries and will be looking to get that monkey off his back and show he can still play at a high level.
Kivon Bennett, DL, Arkansas State
Transfers after four years and 28 games at Tennessee and is projected as an ALl-Sun Belt player by Pro Football Focus. Bennett has become a sack monster from the interior with 4.5 of them in just seven games last season--tied for the most on the team. Should be a leader on the defensive front.