Top Transfers in the PAC-12 in 2022
With the recent news of the impending departures of some of the PAC-12's most prominent programs, the conference needs to have a big football season and see some of its other teams step up to the plate. Here are some transfers who can help put the conference back on the map.
Caleb Williams, USC
When Lincoln Riley shocked the college football world by leaving Oklahoma for USC, many instantly speculated that Williams could soon follow. That idea has now come to fruition after Williams chose the Trojans over Wisconsin. Williams burst onto the scene with a terrific performance in the Red River Rivalry against Texas last season. He's become a superstar at the college level and the continuity with Riley is a perfect blend to start their next chapters.
Cameron Ward, Washington State
Ward is getting plenty of attention this offseason after transferring from Incarnate Word of the FCS. He possesses prototypical NFL size with good running ability. The only thing I don't really like is how awkward his release looks. Ward threw for over 2,000 yards as a freshman but really blossomed last season-- throwing for 4.648 years with 47 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions as a sophomore. Add that to a Washington State offense that loves to throw the ball around and you have a great setup for a breakout season.
Bo Nix, Oregon
Somewhat surprising considering he is an Auburn legacy, but things started to go south for Nix in the middle of last season and the coach he initially committed to is no longer in charge of the Tigers' program. His playing style certainly fits the Oregon offense, and I think he is easily an upgrade over Anthony Brown. Plus. his experience should give him a leg up on his competition. Still, the Ducks have a talented quarterback room, and, while Nix seems like the favorite, he will have to earn the starting role.
Michael Penix Jr, Washington
There's no question Penix Jr is a talented player, but he tends to rely on his legs more than a quarterback should and has sloppy mechanics in the pocket--frequently throwing off his back foot. He was playing better last season before suffering a season-ending injury and will be the favorite to start for Washington under new head coach Kalen DeBoer, who has done well with a similar quarterback (Jake Haener) at Fresno State and briefly overlapped with Penix at Indiana.
Emory Jones, Arizona State
Former Florida starter will replace three-year starter Jayden Daniels, Herm Edwards seems to have a type at quarterback, as Jones is almost the same player-- just with slightly better talent in the passing game. The dual-threat nature can be a massive advantage at the college level and Jones could be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference with further development.
Jack Plummer, Cal
Chase Garbers is gone and Plummer seems like a good bet to replace him in Berkley. The Purdue transfer has plenty of experience, starting 13 games and playing 21 total over three years with the Boilermakers. He has 3,405 career passing yards and was splitting time as the starter before Aidan O'Connell emerged to seize the job. Plummer should get the chance to prove his worth as the starting quarterback for the Cal Golden Bears.
Travis Dye, USC
Dye's transfer from Oregon is less of a surprise because of the Ducks' coaching change, but it is somewhat appalling that he heads to a conference rival, since he is one of the best returning running backs in the country after rushing for over 3,000 yards (5th in school history) over a four-year career at Oregon. Oklahoma's offense has done well using running backs under Lincoln Riley, and the coach gets his most talented yet as he moves to LA.
Mar'Keise Irving, Oregon
Not a bad option to take over for Dye. Irving led Minnesota with 966 all-purpose yards and ranked 12th in the Big Ten in rushing yards as a freshman in 2021. He can also be an effective returner on special teams and a versatile player for Dan Lanning and his staff to use. Plus, he still has plenty of eligibility remaining and is really just getting his college career started.
Aaron Dumas, Washington
Another young player with impressive accomplishments. Dumas spent his freshman year at New Mexico and led the Lobos in rushing. Washington has struggled offensively in recent seasons and could use all the help it can get. One group that is strong for the Huskies, however, is the offensive line, which should make things easier for Dumas and the other running backs.
Xazavian Valladay, Arizona State
Valladay is one of the most underrated running backs in the country. The Wyoming transfer decided to join the Sun Devils back in January following a four-year stint in which he ran for 3,274 yards and 19 touchdowns--including an MWC-best 1,265 in 2019. He doesn't get enough attention because of the conference in which he played, but moving to the PAC-12 should change that quickly.
Austin Jones, USC
Jones played for three years at Stanford and has over 1,000 rushing yards in his career to go along with over 500 receiving yards. That kind of balance at his position can be utilized well as a complementary, third-down back. I'd expect Jones to carve out a role for himself and possibly create a formidable tandem with Dye.
Jordan Addison, USC
Addison was the prized receiver transfer after a phenomenal start to his career at Pitt. He made the decision sort of late but will be on the field for the Trojans this fall. Projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Addison has over 2,000 receiving yards on 160 catches in just two college seasons. He should thrive in Lincoln Riley's offense and have yet another huge season.
Jacob Cowing, Arizona
Cowing is coming off a career-best 69 catches for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021, which was good enough to earn him first-team All-Conference USA and ranked ninth nationally. Arizona has a severe lack of weapons in the passing game and Cowing should start immediately. With his talent, it won't take long for defenses to focus on shutting him down and the challenge will help his chances of reaching the NFL.
Brendan Rice, USC
USC lands the son of legendary receiver Jerry Rice as a transfer from Colorado. The younger Rice will compete for a role on Lincoln Riley's offense as a junior after spending his first two years in Boulder. As a member of the Buffaloes' teams, Rice caught 27 balls for 419 yards with most of that coming in 2021. He was a highly-recruited high school player and now gets to work with one of the best coaching staffs in the country.
Jake Bobo, UCLA
Most probably don't watch much Duke football, but Bobo has been a standout during his career with the Blue Devils. As if his 6'5" 215 frame isn't enough to appeal to scouts and coaches, his play backs it up. He was named third-team All-ACC in 2021 and has 126 catches for over 1,400 yards in his career. The Bruins need to replace Kyle Phillips and Chase Cota, so Bobo will play a vital role this season.
Chase Cota, Oregon
While Phillips heads to the NFL, Cota heads to Oregon as a grad transfer. His best year came as a sophomore in 2019, but he was the Bruins' third-leading receiver last season and has plenty of experience within the PAC-12. He may not have a huge year, but Cota will be part of the Ducks' rotation and makes a solid WR3/WR4.
Mario Williams, USC
Williams is a bit smaller than many of the other transfer receivers, but that doesn't mean he can't be a good player. He played in 12 games for Oklahoma last season and earned True Freshman All-American honors from ESPN. Now, he follows Lincoln Riley and several former teammates to USC, which has had several receivers leave for the pros in recent seasons. Playing time should be abundant for several including Williams as the program looks for the next wave of stars at the position.
Titus Mokiao-Atimala, UCLA
Another guy who can step in right away for the Bruins. Mokiao-Atimala has untapped potential at the college level but did play in 12 games as a freshman at UCF. UCLA should give him more opportunities to shine.
Messiah Swinson, Arizona State
A 6'7" tight end is always appealing for a team and that size seems to be becoming more abundant. Swinson doesn't have a ton of playing experience, but I can see him filling a Curtis Hodges-type role for the Sun Devils. He's likely going to be more of a blocker and his development in the receiving game will be dependent on quarterback play.
Logan Kendall, Utah
Utah does have two tight ends in Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid, but the Utes rely on several players at the position. Kendall seems like a perfect candidate to fill the void left by Cole Fotheringham's departure to the NFL after being a starter and being named All-Big Sky in both seasons he spent at Idaho. He can also play fullback if needed, which helps his case for getting on the field.
Raiqwon O'Neal, UCLA
O'Neal started for parts of three seasons at left tackle for Rutgers. Safe to say, he's been tested by some of the country's best defensive linemen. UCLA loses Sean Rhyan to the NFL and could use more protection for Dorian Thomas-Robinson. O'Neal should thrive in his new conference.
Bobby Haskins, USC
A four-year starter at Virginia with NFL size. Haskins plays left tackle and will be a good building block for the Trojans on Caleb Williams's blindside. He fits in the mold of guys like Alijah Vera-Tucker, Austin Jackson, and Jalen McKenzie and has a bright future.
Nesta Jade Silvera, Arizona State
Silvera is a monster of a defensive tackle and has an NFL future. If you watched any Miami game for the past two years, he stands out in the middle of the line of scrimmage--even in 2020 when they had prolific edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau on the field. Arizona State lost a few defensive linemen in the offseason to the pros and transfer portal. Jade Silvera is a perfect addition to fill those holes.
Xavier Carlton, Cal
Carlton saw limited playing time as a rotational player at Utah, collecting 19 tackles and a sack in 15 games. He's a project at this point but has the measurables and talent to be a star at defensive end.
Laiatu Latu, UCLA
Latu is making his return from medical retirement this season, similar to what we saw with Grant Calcaterra at SMU last year. He fits in the OLB/DE hybrid category and played a pass-rusher role at Washington. He played in 12 games as a freshman in 2019 but never panned out due to a neck injury. That can be a serious issue, so the Bruins will have to make sure it's good enough for him to play his best.
Gabriel & Grayson Murphy, UCLA
I put these two together because they are brothers transferring as a package from North Texas. Gabriel was a second-team All-CUSA defensive end as a freshman in 2021 with 52 tackles and seven sacks. Grayson was third-team All-CUSA with 38 tackles and 8.5 sacks. The pair will easily add pass-rush ability to the UCLA front seven and could become household names with all the eligibility they have remaining.
Sam Taimani, Oregon
Played two years as a defensive tackle for Washington and comes off his best year so far. In 2021, Taimani made 10 starts for the Huskies and led Washington defensive linemen in tackles. He also graded out highly as a run defender. The Ducks are remaking their defensive line and Taimani can be a key contributor.
Jacob Sykes, UCLA
Harvard transfer who was named first-team All-Ivy League in his only full season as a college player. He led the team with seven sacks in 10 games and amassed 29 total tackles. It may take a bit for him to adjust to the Power Five level, but he is more than capable of playing a key role this season.
Mohamoud Diabate, Utah
Diabate is an extremely experienced college player with 37 games (17 starts) at Florida. He has 176 career tackles with 14 TFL and six sacks. Plus, he is more than capable in pass coverage. After losing both Nephi Sewell and Devin Lloyd in the offseason, there is an open slot for Diabate to contribute immediately.
Cam Bright, Washington
Bright transfers to Washington after spending the past four years as a mainstay on the Pitt defense. He has played in 51 games and made 182 tackles with more than 20 TFL. He's a bit undersized and will have to work hard to make it to the next level, but he has already cemented himself as a college star and will make an immediate impact in Seattle.
Jackson Sirmon, Cal
Sirmon is a preseason All-PAC-12 player and heads to Cal after four great seasons at Washington. In 33 career games, he collected 147 tackles and is coming off an honorable mention All-PAC-12 season in which he finished fifth in the conference with 92 tackles. He's not overly athletic but is a tremendously productive college player who can help the Cal defense.
Eric Gentry, USC
Massive size for a linebacker at 6'6". Gentry made 45 tackles as a freshman at Arizona State and defended two passes. He's raw and has a long way to go but there is plenty of time for him to get there. Even if it doesn't happen this year, he's a breakout player waiting to be unleashed.
Latrell McCutchin, USC
Highly rated high school player following Riley to USC. He played in nine games at Oklahoma as a freshman and will get every opportunity to play for the Trojans this fall with both corners heading to the NFL. Give him time to get his feet under him, but McCutchin has elite traits which will take him a long way.