Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Big 12 football transfers: New QBs at Baylor, UCF ready to make an immediate impact in 2024 season

The transfer portal has revolutionized roster building across college football, and the Big 12 is no exception. Every team in the conference experienced turnover and hopes a newcomer can quickly slide into a new role. Four schools looked to the transfer portal for starting quarterbacks, while four more return a former transfer as a starter in 2024. 

At times, the transfer portal has lifted a team’s ceiling. TCU slapped together a defense with key transfers and reached the national title game in 2022. Other times, overreliance has tanked programs. Look no further than BYU and Houston, both of which took more than 20 transfers last season and finished a combined 4-14 in Big 12 play. 

While Big 12 teams added a handful of star players, others opted to lean on internal improvement. Five schools added 10 or fewer transfers. Among them were Iowa State and Oklahoma State — two of the top three teams in the country in returning production. 

Here are the top transfers entering the Big 12 in 2024, headlined by a handful of key offensive targets. 

Utah WR Dorian Singer

Revamping a miserable passing game was a top priority for Kyle Whittingham and his staff entering 2024, and Singer adds immediate firepower. The fourth-year player caught 66 passes for 1,105 yards and six touchdowns in 2022 at Arizona and impressed with 16.7 yards per catch. He adds a downfield threat for returning quarterback Cameron Rising.

Singer is the headliner, but Utah added three receivers overall, including Washington’s Taeshaun Lyons and Syracuse’s Damien Alford. The Utes finished last place in the Pac-12 in passing offense last season, but the new additions should revamp the unit and potentially key a Big 12 title run. Singer ranked as the No. 29 receiver in the portal. 

Baylor QB DeQuan Finn

The Bears struggled mightily on both sides of the ball last season, but adding Finn — the former MAC Player of the Year — gives them some serious upside on offense. Finn threw for 2,657 yards, ran for 563 and posted 29 total touchdowns for Toledo as the Rockets went 11-2 with a trip to the MAC title game. 

He enters an offense with some interesting talent and a new vision. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital takes the Bears back to a spread look, which should allow Finn to lean on his natural ability in space. While former quarterback Blake Shapen was far from the problem in Waco last season, Finn could provide the solution. Finn ranked as the No. 11 quarterback in the portal.

Colorado DL Dayon Hayes

The Buffaloes were aggressive at every position in the transfer portal, but the trenches were the top priority. While Colorado added a mix of experience and potential along the defensive line, Hayes stood apart as a blend of the two. 

Hayes was reportedly set to be one of Pitt’s highest-compensated players after leading the team with 10.5 tackles for loss. At Colorado, he provides some much-needed leadership on the defense heading into a year with high expectations. If the team takes a big step forward in Year 2 under Deion Sanders, the defensive line will lead the way. Hayes ranked as the No. 39 defensive lineman in the portal. 

Texas Tech TE Jalin Conyers

The Red Raiders return tight end Mason Tharp, but the Arizona State transfer Conyers provides a different skill set. The  6-foot-4, 270-pound behemoth posted nearly 800 yards and five touchdowns over the past two seasons. He figures to earn plenty of snaps in 2024. 

What makes Conyers special is his versatility. Think of him as the ultimate safety net for quarterback Behren Morton. In addition to making big catches, Conyers’ frame allows him to play a crucial role in protecting the quarterback and run blocking. Texas Tech offensive coordinator Zach Kittley is one of the more creative minds in the conference, and Conyers fits right in to his scheme. Conyers ranked as the No. 5 tight end in the transfer portal.

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Jalin Conyers will bring size, athleticism and elite pass-catching skills to Texas Tech. USATSI

TCU LB Kaleb Elarms-Orr

The Horned Frogs targeted the transfer portal hard after a disappointing 5-7 season, but Elarms-Orr ranks as perhaps the best of the bunch. The California transfer posted 92 tackles and five passes defended in his first real season as a starter for the Golden Bears, and now comes to TCU as a major contributor. 

TCU hired former Boise State coach Andy Avalos as defensive coordinator and much attention will be paid to the linebacker crew. Elarms-Orr will combine with returners Johnny Hodges and Namdi Obiazor to try and settle down a defense that lost its identity last year. Most importantly, Elarms-Orr brings plenty of experience to a position where it really matters. He ranked as the No. 12 linebacker in the transfer portal. 

Top transfers for remaining Big 12 teams

Arizona DL Tre Smith: The Wildcats lost several key defensive line contributors in the portal, but Smith arrives after posting 6.5 sacks at San Jose State. He will play a key role in the pass rush if the Wildcats hope to compete for the Big 12. 

Arizona State RB Raleek Brown: Brown was a former five-star prospect who never quite found his footing at USC. However, his skills as both a rusher and receiver mean that Kenny Dillingham can find unique ways to get him the ball. 

BYU LB Jack Kelly: Kelly reunites with his former Weber State coach Jay Hill, who is now defensive coordinator at BYU. The do-everything junior posted 57 tackles, five passes defended and 8.5 sacks in a breakout sophomore season. 

UCF QB KJ Jefferson: Gus Malzahn loves a dual-threat quarterback, but Jefferson takes him closer to Cam Newton than John Rhys Plumlee. Jefferson started three years at Arkansas, posting nearly 8,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing with 88 total touchdowns. 

Cincinnati QB Brendan Sorsby: Sorsby played well at Indiana as a freshman and has quickly impressed coaches since arriving at Cincinnati. He hopes to revamp one of the worst passing offenses in the Big 12. 

Kansas State RB Dylan Edwards: Edwards was linked to Kansas State for a long time before flipping to Colorado at the last second. Now, he returns to provide a blistering complement to running back DJ Giddens and quarterback Avery Johnson

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Dylan Edwards will provide a dynamic option for the Kansas State rushing attack.  USATSI

Houston WR Mekhi Mews: Mews walked on at Georgia, but managed to find the field as a receiver and dynamic returner. Willie Fritz is an expert at finding ways for speedsters to get the ball in space, and Mews fits the profile. 

Iowa State DE Kenard Snyder: The Cyclones brought in very few transfers, but ULM’s Snyder has interesting upside as an active defensive end. In two seasons playing with the program, he posted 24.5 tackles for loss. 

Kansas OL Shane Bumgardner:  Bumgardner won the Rimington Award as the top center in Division II in 2023 and coaches are excited about his potential. He’ll replace veteran leader Mike Novitsky in the middle of the Jayhawks offensive line.

Oklahoma State TE Tyler Foster: Oklahoma State has not often targeted tight ends under Mike Gundy, but the Ohio transfer could change that. With a 6-foot-7 frame, Foster provides a big target that could help aid an offense that ranked in the bottom half of the Big 12 in converting red zone trips into touchdowns. 

West Virginia WR Jaden Bray: Bray flashed during his time at Oklahoma State but never quite put the pieces together. At West Virginia, Bray can star in a wide receiver room that replaces multiple contributors. 

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