College football transfer portal: Who will make the biggest impact?

College football transfer portal: Who will make the biggest impact?

Monday marked the first day of the newly-formed NCAA transfer window, and over 700 college football players entered their name into the portal. That included a loaded list of quarterbacks, highlighted by Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei, who was a Heisman Trophy hopeful heading into the 2022 campaign.

[College football transfer portal tracker]

FOX Sports college football analyst RJ Young sorted through the long list and landed on five players who he views as the most impactful transfers. Even more, Young looks at where those five players could call home next season.

Here’s a look at Young’s list.

RJ’s favorite coaching hires and most impactful transfers

FOX Sports’ RJ Young shares five transfers who he believes will make the biggest impact at their next school.

QB DJ Uiagalelei

Why he makes the list: “It was really an up-and-down year for him. There was a time when I believed that he would be better than Trevor Lawrence, and that has since been disproven. You saw flashes of what he was capable of when he brought Clemson from 18 down against Boston College just last year. You saw flashes of what he was capable of in South Bend against a damn good Notre Dame team. … It just hasn’t been able to come together for him in 2022, and frankly, Cade Klubnik has outplayed him, and it’s his job now. Especially after what he was able to do in relief of Uiagalelei in the ACC Championship against a North Carolina team that just couldn’t keep up with that dude.”

Where he could end up: “I’ll be interested to see where he ends up. I don’t really have a good feel on this one. There are a lot of people that want to see him on the West Coast, where he’s from. I wouldn’t be against that either. I could also just as easily see him coming out of the portal and going back to Clemson. If that’s where your home is, that’s where your home is. But we’ll have to wait and see. But I believe that dude is going to be a winner, no matter where he goes.”

QB Brennan Armstrong

Why he makes the list: “This is a guy who I believe has the best possibility to be a comeback player of the year candidate. When Brennan Armstrong was slinging it at Virginia, he was one of the best quarterbacks in all of the sport … the stats are outrageous. Last year, he threw for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also ran for 251 yards. So, he was a 4,700, 31-touchdown machine. That’s outstanding. Going into this, I thought the marriage between him and Tony Elliott would be outstanding, but it just didn’t work out that way. He threw seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2022.”

Where he could end up: “I can’t wait to see who gives that dude another shot. It is looking like Syracuse might be a landing spot for him, and frankly, I am here for that. Because Robert Anae knows how to call an offense and I really want to see him do well. At Syracuse, I believe he would have that opportunity in an offense they want to run. I think having a transfer like Brennan Armstrong could only help him.”

QB Cade McNamara

Why he makes the list: “I believe that McNamara is to Michigan what Peyton Manning was at Tennessee, what Kelly Bryant was at Clemson. He was a dude that demonstrated to everybody that this team was on the edge of being a national championship-caliber team, but just didn’t have the tools to get it over the top. The next guy comes in, and he’s a little bit more talented at that time, like was the case with Tee Martin and Trevor Lawrence. We know J.J. McCarthy has led his team to the college football playoff and an undefeated season so far.”

Where he ended up: “McNamara going to Iowa made so much sense to me. When I heard he was in the portal, I said, ‘Iowa, go get that guy.’ They have been a quarterback away for two years. They have had a top-five defense for two consecutive years. They have been outstanding on that side of the ball, but they have been anemic, putrid, awful on the offensive side of the ball, and some of that has been QB play. He is going to put the offense in good position, and he is also going to put the defense in good position because when they punt the ball, it won’t be from their half of the field, if he can help it. I also know he is a natural-born leader. I’m really interested to see what Kirk Ferentz and Brian Ferentz can do with him. He is a “capital T” tough guy and I really enjoy watching him play. I’m glad he has found a landing spot that fits his personality.”

QB Devin Leary

Why he makes the list: “He might be the best natural passer in the portal so far. He broke Phillip Rivers’ single-season record for touchdowns with 35 in a season last year and is the best QB prospect in Raleigh since Russell Wilson. I remember Devin Leary was drawing those comparisons in 2021. This feels like a guy that could be the difference between being a national championship team and not. That’s why he’s an impact transfer.”

Where he could end up: “You put Devin Leary at a place like Notre Dame, and you feel really good about Notre Dame being a top-10 team again. That’s how interesting and really talented this kid is. It also feels like somebody might beat him there if he doesn’t make up his mind.”

QB Hudson Card

Why he makes the list: “He has to make this list because of how he played in relief of Quinn Ewers, and frankly, how he played when he was dueling with Casey Thompson the year prior. His ability to be mobile and move around is what made him a little bit different from Ewers. Now, Ewers sees the field a little bit better, but you don’t need to if you’re able to outrun people and get one-on-one. 

Where he could end up: “Notre Dame feels like a great fit for Hudson Card, but I could see a lot of different places for him to go. In the back of my head, selfishly, I would like to see him at a place like Oregon State, because like Iowa, they just need a quarterback. They are looking at winning 10 games this year, if they win their bowl game, without a QB. If you put a capable QB on Jonathan Smith’s Beavers team, that team contends for a Pac-12 championship. I don’t think he’s looking at Corvallis, but I’d like to throw it out there.”

Honorable mentions:

Daniel Richardson, Central Michigan

Trey Sanders, Alabama

Fentrell Cypress, Virginia

Dasan McCullough, Indiana

JT Daniels, West Virginia

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About the Author

Marie Maynes
Marie Maynes is a Sports enthusiast and writes for the Sports section of ANH.