Ranking the Top 25 transfers in the ACC in 2022
The most active transfer portal in college football history wrapped up Aug. 1, just as many programs across the country opened fall camps. The portal included more than 2,000 entries, a 25% increase from 2020-21, and that number included more than 1,000 Power 5 players.
That meant huge attrition at many programs, including places like Virginia, which lost 16 players to the portal after Bronco Mendenhall’s surprising resignation in December. Florida State didn’t change coaches but saw 23 players enter the transfer portal anyway, a testament to the allure of NIL deals and what happens when recruiting promises don’t pair up with playing time.
As you’d expect, the Power 5 cleaned up in claiming the portal’s best players, and that included the ACC, which nabbed 7 of the top 50 players in the transfer portal, per the 247 composite. As you’d expect, FSU, who had the most roster spots to fill, was the ACC’s best portal performer, but needs were addressed at several other programs, including at Miami, where Mario Cristobal astutely used the portal to help fill out a roster that could compete for the school’s elusive first ACC championship.
Here is Saturday Road’s list of the top 25 transfers headed to the ACC in 2022.
25. Trey Benson, RB, Florida State (Oregon)
Trey Benson is expected to start at running back in Tallahassee after 2 seasons at Oregon. He missed the 2020 season because of an injury and carried the ball only 6 times for the Ducks in 2021, but he has been electric in practice for the Seminoles and with 3 years of eligibility remaining, the former top-10 recruit out of the state of Mississippi should give the Seminoles stability at the running back position for years to come.
24. Darryl Jones, WR, NC State, (Maryland)
A speedy boundary-type receiver from Maryland, Darryl Jones will add depth to a Wolfpack receiving corps that can’t replace All-ACC talent Emeka Emezie with just 1 guy. Instead, the Pack will look to replace Emekie’s production with overwhelming depth. Jones, who caught 23 passes for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns last year for the Terrapins, adds another quality piece to a deep group at NC State.
23. Spencer Rolland, OT, North Carolina (Harvard)
Spencer Rolland, a 1st-team All-Ivy League selection with the Crimson in 2021, has impressed early in fall camp and is expected to start at right tackle for the Tar Heels when they open the season against Florida A&M in just more than 2 weeks. The transition from the Ivy League to Power 5 football can be daunting, but Rolland has bulked up to 300 pounds since arriving in Chapel Hill, and he is a competitive guy who allowed just 1 sack in his final 2 years in Cambridge, Mass. He’ll be a quality starter in the ACC.
22. Jack Camper, DE, Virginia (Michigan State)
Virginia lost 6 players to the transfer portal on both lines of scrimmage, making Tony Elliott’s addition of Jack Camper, a 4-year contributor at Michigan State, essential. Camper’s 2021 campaign was cut short because of injury, but the graduate transfer registered a career-high 18 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss, a sack, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 7 quarterback pressures during 2020. A former 4-star recruit out of Florida powerhouse IMG Academy, Camper is healthy and will contribute immediately in Charlottesville.
21. Alijah Clark, CB, Syracuse (Rutgers)
A former 4-star recruit, Alijah Clark leaves Piscataway, N.J., for upstate New York, where he’ll start for the Orange at corner as a sophomore. Clark made 5 starts in 2021, collecting an interception and posting a solid 52% completion percentage against number, per Stats Solutions. At 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, he has excellent size and eventually he projects as an All-ACC-caliber corner.
20. Mycah Pittman, WR, Florida State (Oregon)
Mycah Pittman, a Tampa, Fla., native and the son of Super Bowl champion running back Michael Pittman, heads to Tallahassee after an up-and-down tenure at Oregon, where he caught 38 passes in 3 seasons, though only 20 of those catches came as a sophomore and junior. Pittman was a big-time, blue-chip recruiting win for Mario Cristobal when he selected Oregon over Florida in 2018; with Cristobal off to Miami, he now heads to the Canes’ rival, FSU, where he’ll give the Noles and Jordan Travis much-needed help on the perimeter.
19. Pierce Quick, OT, Georgia Tech (Alabama)
The former high 4-star, top-50 recruit started just 4 games in 3 seasons with the Crimson Tide, and he was limited to eight games with Alabama. Ironically, Pierce Quick’s largest issue was never “quickness”– his feet were plenty effective against the speedy edge rushers who dominate the SEC. The issues came as a run blocker, which limited Quick’s formational deployments. A fresh start in Atlanta, where he’ll start at right tackle, should help matters.
18. Daryl Porter Jr., CB, Miami (West Virginia)
Daryl Porter Jr. is undersized at 5-8, but he graded out as West Virginia’s top corner in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. Most impressive were his 5 pass breakups and 44.5% completion percentage on targets against, which show he competes despite being frequently targeted in size mismatches in the red zone. A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, he’s another player who will contribute for his home region team after initially playing elsewhere.
17. Tiyon Evans, RB, Louisville (Tennessee)
Tiyon Evans is one of the most intriguing transfers headed to the ACC. He ran for more than 500 yards for Tennessee and coach Josh Heupel in 2021, numbers that included 6 touchdowns and 8 explosive runs (15 yards or more). He lost the starting job to Jabari Small in November and elected to leave Knoxville rather than stick around in the spring and try to win it back. The thing is, there’s no guarantee he starts at Louisville, either. Jalen Mitchell and Trevion Cooley bring almost 1,200 yards of production back for the Cardinals this autumn. If Evans breaks through the rotation, big things could be in store. But he’ll have to become a better 3-down back and pass blocker to play consistently for coach Scott Satterfield.
16. Frank Ladson Jr., WR, Miami (Clemson)
The first of back-to-back ACC program to ACC program transfers on this list, Frank Ladson Jr. is a name to circle on this list because of his tremendous upside. A top-100 overall recruit who coach Dabo Swinney plucked from the shadow of the Coral Gables, Fla., campus out of high school (Ladson attended high school a 30-minute drive away, at South Dade), Ladson returns home after injuries and drops plagued his time at Clemson. A healthy Ladson has impressed during Miami practices, and it isn’t every day a program can add a College Football Playoff program starter to the mix of an already-solid receiving corps. If Ladson thrives back home in Dade County, this ranking might seem too low in November.
15. Corey Gaynor, C, North Carolina (Miami)
Corey Gaynor started 28 games for the Hurricanes before an injury knocked him out of the starting lineup as a senior in 2021. Healthy again, he elected to play a super senior season for ACC counterpart North Carolina, where he is expected to start at center and was named to the Rimington Trophy watchlist. A product of Stoneman Douglas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., there isn’t much Gaynor hasn’t seen as either a prep prospect or college player, and his ability to call out defenses and make reads will be essential as the Tar Heels break in a new quarterback after the departure of All-American Sam Howell to the NFL.
14. Henry Parrish Jr., RB, Miami (Ole Miss)
Henry Parrish Jr. is a burner who returns home to Miami after 2 seasons at Ole Miss. Jaylan Knighton is the Hurricanes’ starter, but Parrish, who carried the ball more than 100 times for Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss in 2021, brings experience and versatility to the Canes backfield. His value as a receiver is especially important to quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ offense: Parrish caught 28 passes in 2 seasons in Oxford, Miss., averaging nearly a first-down per reception on those targets (8.4 yards). Having a running back who is dynamic in the pass game will only make a talented Miami offense more versatile, allowing them to stress defenses in different ways without changing formations.
13. Grant Wells, QB, Virginia Tech (Marshall)
The Hokies managed to keep most of their roster intact despite a coaching change. New head coach Brent Pry loves blue-collar worker bees, and Grant Wells, who threw for 5,626 yards and 34 touchdowns at Marshall, has impressed his head coach with his work ethic and willingness to stay in the film room and learn. If he can cut down on his interceptions — he tossed 13 in 2021 while attempting 444 passes– he could provide Virginia Tech with the kind of steady quarterback play the program became accustomed to during the 27-year bowl streak that spanned the Frank Beamer and early Justin Fuente eras.
12. Juwaun Price, RB, Syracuse (New Mexico State)
Syracuse was one of the nation’s best rushing offenses in 2021, finishing 17th nationally and first in the ACC in rushing offense and 14th in rushing success rate. The Orange returns All-ACC back Sean Tucker, of course, who piled up almost 1,500 yards rushing for Dino Babers a season ago. But adding Juwaun Price to the mix is a terrific insurance policy — the sophomore averaged an impressive 7 yards per carry last season for New Mexico State, impressing the likes of Kentucky coach Mark Stoops in the process, who said this after Price’s 51-yard, 11-carry performance against the Wildcats included 40 yards after contact: “They have a NFL caliber running back, I’ll tell you that. We couldn’t take him down. He has great balance and leg drive. A really impressive player and I told him that after the game.”
11. Tatum Bethune, LB, Florida State (UCF)
Tatum Bethune will start in the middle of FSU’s defense after 3 productive seasons at in-state rival UCF. Bethune is a 3-down linebacker who excels in pass coverage, and he collected 2 interceptions and broke up 2 passes for the Knights in 2021. Bethune played his best football during November, leading the Knights in tackles in wins against USF (18) and UConn (14). Bethune’s lack of top-end speed prevented him from collecting high level Power of 5 scholarship offers out of high school, despite playing for Florida power Miami Central. He’s so instinctual, however, that he’s now considered a fringe NFL Draft prospect as he enters his redshirt junior year.
10. Jadan Blue, WR, Virginia Tech (Temple)
Jadan Blue arrives in Blacksburg, Va., after a productive 4 seasons at Temple, which included a 1,067-yard receiving performance for the Owls in 2019. In the process, Blue became Temple’s first 1,000-yard wide receiver and landed on the Biletnikoff Award watch list in 2020. He picked up where he left off as a junior, catching 27 passes for 220 yards and 5 touchdowns in Temple’s first 3 games before star quarterback Anthony Russo was lost for the season with a shoulder injury and the Owls’ season was shortened to 7 games because of COVID-19. An anemic Owls offense, a coaching change and the murder of his father when on the phone with his son, have led Blue to Pry and Blacksburg. Motivated and still present on NFL Draft boards, Blue should be Wells’ favorite target and return to his 1,000-yard receiving form in 2022.
9. Winston Wright Jr., WR, Florida State (West Virginia)
A lightly recruited 3-star receiver out of Savannah, Ga., Winston Wright Jr. has bucked expectations and put together a tremendous career as a slot weapon. He caught 129 passes during 3 seasons at West Virginia, including an impressive 63 on 85 targets in 2021 (a reception-to-target ratio among the best in the country, per Stats Solutions). Wright is even more valuable on special teams, where he earned All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner, gaining 1,236 yards with 2 touchdowns on 50 kickoff returns over 3 seasons. Wright also was one of only 2 players in the country to have 2 kickoff returns of more than 90 yards in 2021. He’s a legitimate threat every time he touches the ball, and it has been a long time since that was true of any offensive player in Tallahassee.
8. Kameron Butler, DE, Virginia (Miami of Ohio)
Kameron Butler, like Jack Camper, gives the Cavaliers a fighting chance in the trenches. A 3-time All-Mid-American Conference selection, including first-team honors in 2021, Butler brings 16 career sacks to Charlottesville, Va., including a career-high 8 in 2021. He also forced 3 fumbles a season ago and led a solid Miami (Ohio) team in quarterback pressures with 22. He’s one of the steals of the portal and will be a productive player in the ACC in 2022.
7. Konata Mumpfield, WR, Pittsburgh (Akron)
If we made a most important transfers list, Konata Mumpfield would be top 5. When he committed to the Panthers, Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff winner, was slated to return to Pitt for his junior season. Instead, Addison darted for Southern Cal, leaving Mumpfield behind as WR 1 for Pitt in 2022. Here’s the fun thing, though: Mumpfield is a NFL Draft prospect in his own right, having caught 63 passes for 751 yards and 8 touchdowns as a freshman at Akron in 2021. At 6-1 and 190, Mumpfield has good size, and his 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash helped him produce immediately as a college player. Huge numbers likely are in store for the sophomore — and while he won’t be Addison — he has a chance to impress NFL scouts just as Addison did a season ago.
6. Tyler Hudson, WR, Louisville (Central Arkansas)
Tyler Hudson was an All-American at the Football Championship Subdivision level for Central Arkansas, hauling in 167 passes for over 3,000 yards in 3 seasons. The Southland Conference Freshman of the Year in 2019, he has 26 career touchdowns and heads to Louisville with a big chip on his shoulder, eager to prove he should have gotten an opportunity at the Bowl Subdivision level well before 2022. When Hudson entered the portal, the 247 composite made him a top-100 player in a portal packed with more than 2,000 names. A fluid route-runner with only 1 career drop, he’ll live up to the billing for the Cardinals this autumn.
5. Jared Verse, DE, Florida State (Albany)
An All-American at the FCS level, Jared Verse was the prize of Florida State’s huge transfer portal class, giving the Seminoles a big-time talent at defensive end. Unranked and hardly recruited out of high school, Verse posted monstrous numbers in the FCS, with 74 tackles, including 21.5 for loss, to accompany 14.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries, 2 forced fumbles and 1 pass breakup in just 15 games. Things won’t come as easily for Verse in the ACC, but he has dominated reps since arriving at FSU and appears to be the latest in a long line of players recruiting services just missed. Verse has Power 5-caliber speed, and he has bulked up and improved his first step significantly since arriving at Florida State. With 3 seasons of eligibility at his disposal, Verse should be a force for the Noles for years to come.
4. Jermayne Lole, DT, Louisville (Arizona State)
There’s plenty to like about Jermayne Lole, who graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd-best defensive tackle in college football in 2020 before missing the 2021 season with a triceps injury. NFL scouts aren’t as in love with him after the injury as they were before it, so he is at Louisville, hopeful to have a productive season that puts him back on NFL Draft boards. When healthy, it’s difficult to argue with the PFF grade or the game film, which shows a player who can constantly command double teams and has collected 9 career sacks in the Pac-12 along with 14 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. He’s a legitimate All-ACC candidate inside for the Cardinals.
3. Akheem Mesidor, DE, Miami (West Virginia)
West Virginia transfers are a common theme on this list and Akheem Mesidor, the jewel of Miami’s transfer portal class, is the best of the lot. Mesidor had offseason shoulder surgery and missed spring practice, but he’s still expected to win a starting job on the edge for coach Mario Cristobal’s defense. He should bring his elite speed burst and physicality to the defense. Mesidor registered 9.5 sacks in 2 seasons for the Mountaineers, earning 3rd-team All-Big 12 honors in 2021. A former high 4-star recruit, the Canadian native picked Miami because he was tired of the cold. Now, Mesidor will bring the heat to ACC quarterbacks consistently in Coral Gables.
2. Kobie Turner, DE, Wake Forest (Richmond)
Think Jared Verse but with multiple years of elite FCS productivity. Lobie Turner, an FCS All-American and the 2021 Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year, was a 3-year All-CAA talent at Richmond, where he tallied 158 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Turner started his final 27 games for the Spiders and registered a tackle for loss in every game he played in 2021. Coach Dave Clawson couldn’t stop raving about the young man at ACC Media Days, and Turner has landed on the Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list as the Demon Deacons look to defend their Atlantic Division crown. A difference-maker who will serve as a captain, Turner will start and compete for All-ACC honors this fall.
1. Kedon Slovis, QB, Pittsburgh (Southern Cal)
Was there any doubt?
How do you replace a Heisman finalist quarterback from a conference champion? You go and get a guy who threw for 30 touchdowns as a freshman at a storied program in USC.
Slovis hasn’t regained that form over the past 2 seasons, and an injury shortened his 2021, making way for Jaxson Dart. But he has never been anything but “good” as a college quarterback. You’d be hard-pressed to find a program that wouldn’t want a Power 5 starter with more than 7,500 career passing yards, 58 career touchdown passes, and all-conference quarterback in a Power 5 conference credentials.
Slovis doesn’t have Kenny Pickett’s mobility and escapability, but he has a plus-arm and is more accurate than Pickett as a downfield thrower, per Stats Solutions. Slovis will hear his name called in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has the talent to make it round 2 or 3 with a big 2022.
The ACC has more star-power than any league in the Power 5 at the quarterback position, with Malik Cunningham of Louisville, Sam Hartman of Wake Forest, Brennan Armstrong of Virginia, Tyler Van Dyke of Miami, Devin Leary of N.C. State, and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei all bona fide Heisman candidates if things break properly for their programs. Save Uiagalelei, Slovis was as highly recruited as all of them out of high school, and if he plays the way he’s capable, he’ll join the mix, too.