Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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ACC football transfers: Dynamic QBs at Florida State, Miami among players ready to make a splash in 2024

Like the other Power Four conferences, the ACC is expanding in 2024 with the addition of Cal, SMU and Stanford. However, that’s not the only offseason development that will change the complexion of the league. Strong transfer classes — headlined by a group of high-profile quarterbacks — have a chance to shake up the conference hierarchy entering the first year of the expanded College Football Playoff. 

Florida State and Miami brought in transfer hauls ranked in the top 10, according to 247Sports. On the other end of the spectrum, Clemson was the only non-service academy FBS program that didn’t add a single transfer.

FSU landed former Clemson and Oregon State signal caller DJ Uiagalelei, while Miami also went out West to grab Cameron Ward from Washington State. Both players have one season of eligibility left to raise their stock ahead of the 2025 NFL Draft.

Sticking to the quarterback theme, NC State brought in ex-Coastal Carolina standout Grayson McCall. McCall missed most of last year with a head injury but threw for at least 24 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons.

Syracuse and Duke also landed big-name transfer quarterbacks in Kyle McCord (Ohio State) and Maalik Murphy (Texas). Here are some players poised to make an immediate impact this season in the ACC.

Miami QB Cameron Ward

Ward’s journey to South Beach was a roller coaster. Ward entered the transfer portal at the end the 2023 season, then declared for the 2024 NFL Draft and finally recended his draft declaration to commit to Miami. It was a huge win for Hurricanes coach Mario Cristobal, who is under immense pressure to win in Year 3. Ward was the No. 15 overall player and the No. 4 quarterback available in the portal. He’s also the highest-ranked player to transfer to an ACC school. 

Ward lit up defenses to start 2023 but hit a wall as the season wore on. After throwing for 1,393 yards with 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first four games, he completed only 63.3% of his attempts for 2,342 yards with 17 total touchdowns and seven interceptions in his final eight contests. Ward already has NFL upside thanks to his dynamic dual-threat ability. If he can find more consistency, he could significantly boost his draft stock in 2024.

Florida State QB DJ Uiagalelei

ACC fans are already familiar with Uiagalelei. He started his career at Clemson, but his time with the Tigers came to an end after he was benched in favor of Cade Klubnik. He took his talents to Oregon State last year and helped guide the Beavers to an 8-5 mark. Uiagalelei will now don the uniform of a former conference rival, where he hopes to fill the shoes of the departing Jordan Travis. 

In 2023 Uiagalelei threw for a career-high 2,638 yards but finished with a career-low completion percentage of 571.%. A former five-star recruit, Florida State is hoping this is the year DJU finally puts it all together and cashes in on his massive potential. With FSU losing receivers Johnny Wilson and Keon Coleman to the NFL, it will be up to former highly-touted recruit Hykeem Williams and Alabama transfer Malik Benson to emerge as reliable targets for Uiagalelei

Duke QB Maalik Murphy

Murphy is a former four-star recruit who made two starts at Texas last season. With Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers returning and Arch Manning waiting in the wings, Murphy saw the writing on the wall and elected to hit the portal after the season concluded. He found a landing spot at Duke, where he projects as the sure-fire starter in Year 1 of the Manny Diaz era. It’s up to Blue Devils offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jonathan Brewer to refine Murphy’s skills and take advantage of his stellar arm talent. Murphy was the No. 6 quarterback available in the transfer portal.

Syracuse QB Kyle McCord

New Syracuse coach Fran Brown made a splash when he landed McCord from Ohio State. The former OSU starter had an up-and-down campaign in the post-CJ. Stroud era and finished with 3,170 yards, 24 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2023. While McCord’s stats indicated proficient play, he was often plagued by slow starts.

Despite Syracuse bringing in former FAU and Penn State quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. late in the cycle, McCord is expected to be the starter in 2024. It will be interesting to see if the former four-star recruit will flourish away from the glaring spotlight that came with playing quarterback for the Buckeyes. McCord was the No. 14 quarterback available in the transfer portal.

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Kyle McCord is hoping to take advantage of a change in scenery at Syracuse. USATSI

NC State QB Grayson McCall

 NC State landed former Virginia starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong in the transfer portal last offseason, but it didn’t go as planned. Armstrong finished with 1,785 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and was benched midway through the season in favor of MJ Morris. 

When he’s at his best, McCall is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He recorded three consecutive seasons with at least 2,400 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and less than three interceptions from 2020-22. If he can rebound from a brutal 2023 injury, NC State will be in business. McCall was the No. 20 quarterback available in the transfer portal.

Top transfers for remaining ACC teams 

Boston College RB Treshaun WardNew Boston College coach Bill O’Brien found a veteran playmaker in Ward, who rushed for 643 yards and five touchdowns while splitting carries at Kansas State last season. He’ll have a chance to take on an expanded role in the BC offense this fall.

Cal CB Marcus Harris: After spending his first two seasons at Oregon State, Harris transferred to FCS-Idaho where he appeared in 40 games over the last three years. He was a first-team All-Big Sky selection in 2023 after racking up 51 tackles with three interceptions. Harris ranked as the No. 36 overall player in the transfer portal and will give the Bears a boost in their secondary ahead of the transition to the ACC.

Clemson N/A: Clemson was one of four FBS programs that didn’t take in a single transfer this cycle. The Tigers will rely on their  2024 recruiting class (ranked No. 15) for immediate contributions.

Georgia Tech EDGE Romello HeightHeight started his career at Auburn and appeared in 10 contests before transferring to USC. After suffering a season-ending injury just two games into the 2022 season, he bounced back by recording 20 tackles and four sacks last year.

Louisville WR Ja’Corey Brooks: The former Alabama standout will be looking for a bounce-back season in a new location after recording only three catches for 30 yards last fall. Brooks had his best season in 2022, finishing with 39 catches for 674 yards and eight touchdowns.

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Louisville is hoping Ja’Corey Brooks will thrive in Jeff Brohm’s coach high-flying offense. USATSI

North Carolina TE Jake Johnson: UNC got a two-for-one by landing both Jake and Max Johnson from Texas A&M. While the latter will be in a quarterback competition to replace former star Drake Maye, Max should be an immediate contributor at tight end. He finished with 24 catches for 235 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore with the Aggies.

Pitt EDGE David Ojiegbe: The former four-star prospect transferred to Pitt after spending his true freshman season at Clemson. Ojiegbe played only 11 total snaps and will have four seasons of eligibility remaining. He was Pitt’s highest-ranked transfer.

SMU OT Savion Byrd: It’s rare for quality offensive linemen to hit the transfer portal. SMU was able to snag one of the top available players at the position in Byrd, who ranked as the No. 6 player at his position. Byrd spent the last three seasons at Oklahoma and appeared in nine games (with four starts) in 2023.

Stanford LB Jahsiah GalvanStanford landed one of the top linebackers in the FCS in Galvan. He appeared in all 11 games in 2023 and led Northern Iowa with 77 tackles. The Cardinal only accepted four transfers this year — due in large part to the university’s strict academic standards — but all have a chance of helping the team. 

Virginia WR Chris Tyree: Tyree showed off his versatility across his four seasons at Notre Dame by putting up numbers as a running back, wide receiver, or returner. He is coming off a career-high in receiving yards (484).

Virginia Tech DL Aeneas PeeblesPeebles recorded a career-high in tackles (44) and sacks (five) last season at Duke. He ranked as the No. 21 transfer defensive lineman and should give VT’s defense a boost as a pass rusher and run stopper.

Wake Forest QB Hank Bachmeier: Bachmeier threw for 2,058 yards and 10 touchdowns in his lone season with Louisiana Tech last year. The former Boise State signal caller should be in the running to win the starting job at Wake Forest after throwing for more than 300 yards in the Demon Deacons’ spring game.

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