Transfer Portal Report: Peters, Steele, others find new homes
The addition of the transfer portal to college football has been one of the biggest developments in recent years, as players now have more information than ever when it comes to seeking a new school to attend. Instead of getting permission from their current schools in order to transfer, and in many cases being blocked from certain schools, players now have the ability to transfer to another school freely.
With spring practice wrapped up at programs across the country, transfer news is flying fast and furious. In a new weekly feature at Rivals.com, we will look at the comings and goings as well as the biggest news surrounding uncommitted transfers currently in the portal.
THIS WEEK'S TOP ADDITIONS
Chris Steele to Oregon
Less than a week after entering the portal with the intention of leaving Florida, the class of 2019 five-star made the announcement that he would be heading to Oregon. Steele enrolled early with the Gators and initial reports were that he was on track to see the field as a true freshman this fall. But a dispute following sexual battery accusations against his roommate, Jalon Jones, reportedly led to a falling out between Steele and the Gators coaches. Jones wasn’t charged in the case, but he has also elected to enter the transfer portal. Steele joins a number of former highly ranked defensive backs from California now at Oregon.
Myles “Spider” Sims to Georgia Tech
A Rivals100 prospect in the class of 2018, Sims had a laundry list of major offers but made an early commitment to the Wolverines. However, he never cracked the depth chart, redshirting in 2018 while not appearing in a game. Now, Sims is headed back to the Atlanta area to get close to home and will play for new Jackets head coach Geoff Collins. Sims is the fifth player to transfer to Georgia Tech since Collins took over, including Rivals250 wide receiver Marquez Ezzard and former five-star Antonneous Clayton. If Sims receives a waiver to play in 2019 he will have four years of eligibility remaining.
Xavier Peters to Kentucky
A Rivals100 prospect from the class of 2018, Peters spent a majority of his recruitment committed to the Wildcats, only to decline to sign early before flipping to Florida State in January. At the time, Peters was a major recruiting victory for the ‘Noles, but his career never really got off the ground in Tallahassee. He played in just two games in 2018, and initially entered the transfer portal in December before electing to return to the team and participate in spring practice. But things didn’t get better for Peters and he was suspended for a violation of team rules in April and stuck to his plans to transfer, announcing a decision this week. Peters will petition for immediate eligibility and will have at least three years of eligibility remaining, even if he’s forced to sit out 2019.
L’Christian “Blue” Smith to Cincinnati
One of the nation’s top overall players in the class of 2018, Smith chose Ohio State over Kentucky in a hotly contested recruiting battle. But he lasted just one year in Columbus and didn’t see the field and was even rumored to be moving from receiver to tight end at one point.
After entering the portal, most assumed that he would end up with the Wildcats, but instead he will head to AAC school Cincinnati, where he’s expected to petition for immediate eligibility. Smith will have at least three years of eligibility remaining, even if he has to sit out 2019.
Kanawai Noa to Nebraska
The former three-star recruit spent the first four years of his career at California, playing sparingly in 2015 and 2016 before having a breakout 2017 that saw him catch 56 passes for 788 yards. Injuries limited his time in 2018, as he caught 30 passes for 369 yards. After receiving an extra year of eligibility due to an injury-riddled 2016 season, Noa heads to Lincoln as a graduate transfer for his final year of eligibliy. The Huskers are in need of help in the passing game after losing star receiver Stanley Morgan from last year’s squad.
NOW IN THE PORTAL
A former five-star in the class of 2016, Smith came into Clemson with pretty big expectations. But he never really got the chance to live up to them on the field, as he redshirted his first season and played sparingly over the next two seasons behind Butkus Award finalist Tre Lamar. Smith played in 26 career games (just 203 snaps) and had 29 tackles, one sack and one interception. Many expected Smith to step into a starting role in 2019, but now it appears he’s headed elsewhere.
Potential landing spots: Maryland makes the most since for Smith, who is a Baltimore native. New coach Mike Locksley hasn’t been shy about working the transfer market and Smith heading back home would make a lot of sense.
A former Rivals250 product, Peters came into Michigan with quite a bit of fanfare and was expected to be the program’s quarterback for years to come. When he got his first action during his redshirt freshman season in 2017 he showed promise, starting four games, including the team’s bowl game against South Carolina. But statistically he threw for just 680 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions during his time with the Wolverines and he fell down the depth chart after transfer Shea Patterson arrived on campus in 2018. As a graduate transfer Peters will be able to play in 2019 and he has two years of eligibility remaining.
The former three-star running back signed with the Jackets in 2015, spurning some major track offers to focus on football at Georgia Tech. His gamble paid off as he thrived in the Jackets' run-heavy offense, with his best season coming in 2017 as he rushed for 1,053 yards and six touchdowns. His 2018 season ended before it really began as he had 116 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries.
Potential landing spots: It’s tough to say where Benson might land this early in the process, but his speed and playmaking ability would also fit well in a wide-open spread offense. Nebraska, Auburn and UCF are schools that come to mind.
A two-star in the class of 2018, Reed stepped into Western Michigan and made an immediate impact, leading the team in receiving yards (797), catches (56) and touchdowns (eight). Rather than return to improve on those numbers this year, Reed joined a pair of other offensive players from the Broncos and entered the portal this week. Assuming he sits out 2019 due to transfer rules, Reed will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Potential landing spots: Reed didn’t have any Power Five offers coming out of high school, but he is an Illinois native and the Illini haven’t been shy about pursuing transfers this offseason.
A former two-star JUCO product, George signed with the Buffaloes as a member of their 2017 recruiting class. Initially expected to compete for playing time, George never really found his footing with the program, redshirting in 2017 and making just one tackle in 2018. A tall, rangy defensive back, it’s possible George could still find an FBS home. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Potential landing spots: Oregon and Arizona were both involved in the recruiting process and the coach that recruited George to Colorado, Mike MacIntyre, is now the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. It’s likely that George elects to transfer down and lands at an FCS program.
NEWS AND NOTES
Just a few weeks after entering the transfer portal, former four-star quarterback Jacob Sirmon has elected to return to Washington. A highly touted high school prospect, Sirmon fell behind in the race to replace starter Jake Browning and is likely to be the Huskers' third-string quarterback in 2019.
Last week in this column I wrote about the commitment of former USC quarterback Matt Fink to Illinois, but Fink later tweeted that he hasn’t made a final decision on his transfer home, despite his father previously telling media outlets that he committed. Illinois has already dealt with grad transfer decommitments this offseason, so it will be worth monitoring to see how Fink’s situation shakes out.
Adding some more fuel to an already contentious rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina is the Gamecocks' pursuit of Tigers grad transfer Tavien Feaster. South Carolina has now offered Feaster and appears to be in position to land him. The former four-star is a South Carolina native who won two national championships with the Tigers and has one season of eligibility remaining.
Penn State grad transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens is close to announcing a decision and all signs point to a reunion with former Nittany Lions offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who is now the head coach at Mississippi State. Stevens recently visited Starkville and would compete with Keytaon Thompson for the starting job in 2019, should he make the transfer official.