Ten transfers to watchThursday, March 29, 2012
Every year in college football there are a lot of transfers who often get overlooked because they had to sit out a season before being eligible to play again. Here are 10 such players – five on offense and five on defense -- who have a chance to make a big impact for their new teams in 2012.
Mike Blakely, RB – Auburn
Transferred from: Florida
Coming out of high school Blakely was ranked as a four-star running back and the No. 10 back in the nation by Scout.com. He committed to Florida before deciding to transfer when Will Muschamp took over for Urban Meyer in Gainesville. Blakely wound up at Auburn and, with starting running back Michael Dyer having transferred, he will have the chance to compete for carries with senior Onterio McCalebb and sophomore Tre Mason.
Dayne Crist, QB –Kansas
Transferred from: Notre Dame
Because he will have graduated from Notre Dame, Crist will not have to sit out a season. After being named Notre Dame’s starting quarterback heading into last season, he quickly lost his job to Tommy Rees. Crist has transferred to Kansas where he will be reunited with former Irish coach Charlie Weis. Their prior relationship will only help as both get acclimated to their surroundings in Lawrence.
Garrett Gilbert, QB – SMU
Transferred from: Texas
Gilbert, a former starter at Texas, is in the same boat as Dayne Crist in that he will have graduated with one year of eligibility remaining. At Texas, Gilbert battled injuries and felt the pressure while not being able to live up to the expectations placed on him. SMU is in need of a quarterback after one transferred and one graduated. Gilbert, who had the difficult job of replacing Colt McCoy, will now be able to relax a bit and have a chance to finally live up to the hype.
Tyler Gabbert, QB – UCF
Transferred from: Missouri
After losing out on the starting job at Missouri, Tyler Gabbert transferred and sat out a season before deciding what his next move would be. He decided to transfer to the University of Central Florida. Gabbert will immediately have the opportunity to start and is expected to have three years of eligibility.
Jordan Prestwood, T – Notre Dame
Transferred from: Florida State
Prestwood verbally committed to Notre Dame during his recruitment, but he signed a letter of intent to play at Florida State. The Irish, though, got him back as he transferred to South Bend. The Irish lost three starters along the line, but Prestwood will have to compete with other backups for a starting spot. If he does not start, he will provide the Irish with depth and possibly be a major contributor down the road as coach Brian Kelly works to bring the program back to where it once was.
Shamiel Gary, SS – Oklahoma State
Transferred from: Wyoming
After excelling during his first two seasons at Wyoming, Gary transferred to Oklahoma State. At Wyoming he excelled as the team’s free safety and was the first player in school history to be named a first team All-American as a freshman by the Football Writers Association of America. He also had nine games with double figures in tackles. At Oklahoma State, he will battle for playing time with two others at strong safety. The starter should be determined by the end of spring practice.
Kolby Gray, FS – Baylor
Transferred from: Pittsburgh
Gray decided to transfer from Pitt to be closer to his home in Houston and attend Baylor. It was a sensible move given Gray’s defensive coordinator at Pitt, Phil Bennett, hooked on in the same capacity with Art Briles’ staff in Waco. Still, Gray will have to battle for playing time as the Bears are deep at safety.
Forrest West, DE – N.C. State
Transferred from: Colorado
Tom O’Brien and N.C. State picked up a productive defensive lineman from Colorado. It might not be the flashiest move, but it is one that will help the Wolfpack with their defensive line depth. West will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Brandon Willis, DT – UCLA
Transferred from: UNC
Willis has had an interesting college playing experience to date. He was initially at UNC before transferring to UCLA, only to transfer back to Chapel Hill. Upon the firing of Tar Heels head coach Butch Davis, Willis decided to transfer back to Westwood. If he can find a way stay put, he can have a huge impact. Coming out of high school, ESPN rated him as a four-star recruit and No. 110 on the ESPNU 150. New UCLA head coach Jim Mora should be able to get the best out of Willis.
Ray Vinopal, S – Pittsburgh
Transferred from: Michigan
As a freshman at Michigan in 2010, Vinopal played in all 13 games and tallied 33 tackles. He then decided to transfer to Pitts because of a family issue. Vinopal will have an opportunity to immediately help the help the Panthers. He has three years of eligibility remaining.