CFB Offseason News: UCF Grabbing Portal Talent

CFB Offseason News: UCF Grabbing Portal Talent

Unabated Staff
May 23, 2024

The University of Central Florida has been an active player in the transfer portal. It's notable in CFB offseason news.

Spring practices for college football teams have ended, with every team finishing up by the first week in May. The spring transfer portal window closed on April 30, although players already in the portal can commit after that date. Even though practices have ended, the CFB offseason news cycle remains in full swing, and we’re rounding up the most notable player updates, emphasizing significant injury updates and transfers. 

Here you’ll also find quarterback updates from the final 20-plus games that closed out the spring, with a focus on which QBs started or got snaps and their stats as available. While many teams have not officially named their QB starters, the order in which QBs play in spring games is often very indicative of the depth chart.

As a reminder, the focus here is on quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. The updates in today’s edition range from late-April through mid-May.

Something to remember when seeing QB stats listed for spring games many stats are unofficial or may be incomplete (rushing stats are usually not included). Some returning starters play very few snaps or drives; some teams tackle while others play to “thud.”

Many, if not most, QBs are non-contact in these games.

Spring games can also run different lengths, depending on the team. They may only play one half, or may use a running clock. Stats could also include situational drills.

While many notable updates are shared here, to see a more full listing of updates, to see more details on the updates shared here, or to search for a specific player, check out the Unabated CFB News Feed.

Major College Football Player Updates

Central Florida made as big a splash as any school in adding skill positions from the transfer portal over the past few weeks. Former Toledo RB Peny Boone will transfer to UCF after previously transferring to Louisville in the offseason, he rushed for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns for Toledo in 2023. Boone and returning RB RJ Harvey could be one of top RB duos in the nation. At receiver UCF added former Ohio WR Jacoby Jones, former Auburn WR Ja’Varrius Johnson, and former Alabama/Texas WR Agiye Hall. In 2022 Jones had 45 catches for 766 yards and six TDs for Ohio, but he suffered a season-ending injury after only three games in 2023. Over the past three seasons Johnson totaled 64 catches for 1,114 yards and eight TDs for Auburn. And Hall is a former highly-rated recruit who was out of football in 2023 after entering the portal late in 2022, with the reports that he is coming as a preferred walk-on. UCF also added former Miami QB Jacurri Brown, who will serve as a backup to Arkansas transfer KJ Jefferson.

Miami added two of the top players in the spring transfer portal in former Oregon State RB Damien Martinez and former Houston WR Samuel Brown. In two seasons at Oregon State Martinez rushed for 2,167 yards and 16 TDs while averaging 6.1 yards per carry, with 15 receptions for 187 yards. Earlier this offseason Miami lost RB Henry Parrish to Ole Miss and RB Don Chaney to Louisville. Brown began his career at West Virginia, but for Houston had 41 catches for 471 yards in 2022, then improved to 62 receptions for 815 yards in 2023.

Potentially the biggest recent QB news out of the spring transfer portal was former Mississippi State QB Mike Wright committing to transfer to Northwestern. Wright previously played three seasons at Vanderbilt along with the season at Miss. State in 2023, totaling 2520 passing yards with 24 TDs, and 1,229 rushing yards with 10 TDs for his career. With former Northwestern QB Brendan Sullivan unexpectedly having entered the spring portal and committing to Iowa, Wright figures to be the frontrunner to start for Northwestern in 2024.

Quarterback News

  • Akron – They did not hold a traditional spring game, but reports from the scrimmage are that Cal transfer Ben Finley, and one of the backups last season Tahj Bullock, are the top options, with Finley likely in the lead.
  • Arizona – returning starter Noah Fifita started the informal spring game/scrimmage, Brayden Dorman got the second reps, and Cole Tannenbaum was third in the game.
  • Arizona State – in the spring scrimmage/game Trenton Bourguet started for one side (4/4-63-1), Michigan State transfer Sam Leavitt started for the other side (6/16-104-1, 1 int). Walk-on Navi Bruzon also played (4/6-28-0). Former Nebraska QB Jeff Sims also committed to transfer to Arizona State.
  • Jacurri Brown, Miami – announced a transfer to UCF (411 passing yards and 278 rushing yards over last 2 seasons).
  • Buffalo – starting the spring game was last season’s backup CJ Ogbonna (10/20-104-1), also playing were Gunnar Gray (6/14-108-1), Richie Watts (5/8-61-0), Anthony Policare and Mike DePillo. Watts has since entered the transfer portal, but former Old Dominion QB Jack Shields announced he is transferring to Buffalo.
  • Colorado – returning starter Shedeur Sanders was the spring game starter (10/14-116-1), then last season’s backup Ryan Staub was second in the game. Vanderbilt transfer Walter Taylor and Kentucky transfer Destin Wade also played.
  • Jacolby Criswell, Arkansas – is transferring back to North Carolina where he first played three seasons before spending 2023 at Arkansas.
  • Fresno State – starting the spring game was returning starter Mikey Keene, and Jayden Mandal was with the second team.
  • CJ Harris, Ohio – he announced he is committed to transfer to Cal. In his career at Ohio he passed for 829 yards and five TDs, and rushed for 239 yards and three TDs. He’ll compete with Fernando Mendoza and North Texas transfer Chandler Rogers.
  • Deacon Hill, Iowa – he committed to transfer to Utah Tech. In 2023 with Iowa he was pressed into action after the injury to Cade McNamara, and Hill passed for 1,152 yards with five TDs and eight interceptions.
  • Sam Huard, Cal Poly – the QB who began his career at Washington before transferring to Cal Poly announced he will transfer to Utah.
  • Kiael Kelly, Ball State – he announced he was returning to Ball State after entering the portal in the spring. It had appeared that Kadin Semonza may have edged him out in the spring QB competition.
  • Kent State – starting for one side in the spring game was Tommy Ulatowski, who was a part-time starter last season, and Troy transfer JD Sherrod started for the other side.
  • Cooper Legas, Utah State – he committed to transfer to Tulsa, where he will likely compete to start with Cardell Williams. In 2023 at Utah State he threw for 1,815 yards and 19 TDs.
  • Louisiana – returner Chandler Fields participated in situational drills but was held out of the spring game just as a precaution, Ben Wooldridge has been limited this spring (foot) and was not available, juco transfer Samari Collier was mentioned as a standout in the spring scrimmage with Fields and Wooldridge not participating.
  • Louisiana Tech – starting the spring game for one side was last season’s part-time starter Jack Turner (5/7-40-1), starting for the other side was Blake Baker (7/11-65-0), with juco transfer Ty Keyes (6/8-59-1) and Evan Bullock (5/8-17-0, 1 int) also playing.
  • Maryland – starting the spring game for one side was last season’s backup and bowl game starter Billy Edwards (6/14-36-0), Cameron Edge started for the other side (11/25-151-0, 1 int). NC State transfer MJ Morris (6/8-65-1) and Champ Long (5/12-63-0, 1 int) came in next for each side. After the game it was said a starter has not yet been named between Edwards, Edge and Morris.
  • Timmy McClain, Central Florida – announced he is transferring to Arkansas State. In 2023 he passed for 1,065 yards and nine TDs at UCF. He also played for USF in 2021. Arkansas State returns last season’s starter Jaylen Raynor, so it appears there could be a QB competition.
  • Emmett Morehead, Boston College – announced a transfer to Old Dominion. His best season at BC was in 2022 when he threw for 1,254 yards and 10 TDs.
  • Nebraska – first in the spring game for one side was Heinrich Haarberg (8/13-163-2), freshman Dylan Raiola was in on the next series for the other side (16/22-239-2, 1 int), and Daniel Kaelin was third in the game (9/16-91-0, 1 int). Luke Longval and Jack Woche also played. Raiola impressed with his play, and while a starter has not been named, it will be hard to keep him off the field long if he’s not the game 1 starter.
  • Northern Illinois – featured in the spring game were last season’s backup Ethan Hampton who started the game, as well as Arkansas-Pine Bluff transfer Jalen Macon and Josh Holst. A starter has not yet been named as competition will continue into the fall.
  • Oregon – Oklahoma transfer Dillon Gabriel started for one side in the spring game (14/21-163-2), UCLA transfer Dante Moore started for the other side (11/16-87-0), with Austin Novosad coming in third on that same side (12/22-177-0, 1 int) but eventually playing with both sides. Luke Moga and Brock Thomas also got late snaps.
  • Ta’Quan Roberson, UConn – he entered the portal and committed to Kansas State, where he will likely backup Avery Johnson. In 2023 he passed for 2,075 yards and 12 TDs.
  • Rutgers – returner Gavin Wimsatt started for one side in the spring game (8/16-76-1, 2 rush TDs), Minnesota transfer Athan Kaliakmanis started for the other side (10/17-147-2). Also playing in the second half were AJ Surace, Ajani Sheppard and Colin O’Sullivan. Pete Thamel reported several days after the game that Kaliakmanis has been named the starter, which led Wimsatt to enter the transfer portal and commit to Kentucky.
  • San Jose State – in the spring game Walker Eget took the first team snaps, Tyler Voss was second, and Washington State transfer Emmett Brown was third (1 pass TD). A starter has not yet been named according to coach Ken Niumatalolo, with Eget and Brown appearing to be the top two. Voss has since entered the portal.
  • Collin Schlee, UCLA – announced a transfer to Virginia Tech. He played three seasons at Kent State and one at UCLA, totaling 2,677 passing yards and 1126 rushing yards, but apparently backing up Kyron Drones was his preferred next step.
  • Donovan Smith, Houston – coach Willie Fritz said he is expected to be full speed by July 1 after having offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder.
  • South Carolina – coach Shane Beamer shared that LaNorris Sellers is the starter coming out of spring and heading into fall camp, but will continue to compete with Auburn transfer Robby Ashford.
  • Brendan Sullivan, Northwestern – announced a transfer to Iowa. He threw for 1,303 yards and 10 TDs over the past two seasons, and should provide depth for Iowa behind Cade McNamara.
  • TCU – with returner Josh Hoover out for the spring due to injury, in the spring scrimmage/open practice Vanderbilt transfer Ken Seals worked with the first team, and Hauss Hejny was next in the game.
  • Troy – in the non-traditional spring game, last season’s backup Goose Crowder and Tucker Kilcrease appeared to get most of the snaps.
  • UCLA – starting the spring showcase was Ethan Garbers, who is expected to be the starter barring a transfer addition, and Justyn Martin was with the second team. Luke Duncan also played.
  • UMass – for the spring game Taisun Phommachanh was not in full uniform with a report he had cleanup work done on his knee. One of last season’s backups Ahmad Haston started the game, Ryan Jankowski was next in the game, AJ Hairston was third.
  • Christian Veilleux, Pitt – is transferring to Georgia State. He played two seasons at Penn State, then in 2023 at Pitt passed for 1,179 yards and seven TDs.
  • Washington – starting the spring game for one side was Mississippi State transfer Will Rogers (14/25-154-1, 1 int), starting for the other side was Demond Williams (7/17-42-1, 1 int). At the time of the spring game there were the only two scholarship QBs on the roster. Walk-on Teddy Purcell also played. Early enrollee Dermaricus Davis entered the portal and committed to UCLA.
  • Washington State – starting for one side in the spring game was last season’s backup John Mateer (11/24-194-2), and Bryant transfer Zevi Eckhaus started for the other side (19/30-196-2). Brady McKelheer, Hunter Najm, Jaxon Potter and Evans Chuba also played.
  • West Virginia – starting for one side in the spring game was returning starter Garrett Greene (8/13-79-0, 1 int), last season’s backup Nicco Marchiol (10/19-82-1, 1 int) started for the other side, Jackson Crist (3/3-48-1) also played.
  • Wisconsin – while they did not have a formal spring game, Miami transfer Tyler Van Dyke and last season’s backup Braedyn Locke continue to compete to be the starter. Nick Evers announced he was transferring to UConn.
  • Mike Wright, Mississippi State – he announced a transfer to Northwestern. He first played three seasons at Vanderbilt, then one at Mississippi State, for his career passing for 2520 yards and rushing for 1,229 yards.
  • Wyoming – starting for one side in the spring game was Evan Svoboda (17/27-204-1) who was last season’s backup, starting for the other side was Jayden Clemons (18/27-174-0), with Kaden Anderson (14/22-116-0, 1 int) also getting significant snaps. Gage Brook also played (3/8-19-0).

Running Back News

  • O’Shaan Allison, Ohio – he is transferring to Austin Peay after rushing for 1,719 yards and nine TDs in five seasons at Ohio.
  • Rashad Amos, Miami Ohio – in late April he flipped his transfer commitment from Mississippi State to Colorado, but then in mid-May he again flipped, from Colorado to Ole Miss. In 2023 at Miami OH he rushed for 1,075 yards and 13 TDs. He began his career with three seasons at South Carolina.
  • Brian Battie, Auburn – he was injured in a shooting in Florida, with coach Hugh Freeze sharing on May 20 that he was on a ventilator in the hospital in critical condition.
  • Peny Boone, Louisville – he will transfer to Central Florida after earlier this offseason transferring from Toledo to Louisville. In 2023 at Toledo he rushed for 1400 yards and 15 TDs.
  • Davon Booth, Utah State – announced a transfer to Mississippi State after rushing for 805 yards and six TDs in 2023.
  • Quali Conley, Arizona – the San Jose State transfer was not dressed for the spring game after being seen in a boot at practice the prior week.
  • Marquez Cooper, Ball State – announced a transfer to San Diego State. First played three seasons at Kent State, then in 2023 at Ball State rushed for 1,043 yards and four TDs.
  • Kevin Davis, Miami Ohio – he withdrew from the portal after entering in late April. Over four seasons he has 796 rushing yards and 575 receiving yards.
  • Greg Desrosiers, UMass – he will transfer to Memphis (511 yards and six TDs over the past two seasons).
  • Michel Dukes, South Florida – he has committed to transfer to Jacksonville State. Over the past two seasons he has rushed for 538 yards and seven TDs, he previously played at Clemson as well.
  • Dylan Edwards, Colorado – announced he will transfer to Kansas State. In 2023 he had 321 rushing yards and 299 receiving yards.
  • Rahsul Faison, Utah State – withdrew from the transfer portal after entering just days earlier.
  • Jordan Ford, Tulsa – is transferring to Georgia State (294 rushing yards in 2023).
  • AJ Green, Oklahoma State – the Arkansas transfer shared a picture of himself with a large cast on his lower left leg/foot.
  • CJ Hester, Western Michigan – is transferring to UMass, rushed for 132 yards and two TDs in 2023.
  • Calvin Hill, Texas State – he re-entered the portal after committing to UTEP earlier this offseason (1,701 yards and 10 TDs over five seasons at Texas State).
  • Trent Howland, Indiana – is transferring to Oklahoma State (354 yards and two TDs in 2023).
  • Dominique Johnson, Arkansas – entered the transfer portal, his best season came in 2021 (575 yards & seven TDs).
  • Ta’Ron Keith, Bowling Green/Western Kentucky – he announced he will transfer to South Florida. Previously this offseason he had transferred from Bowling Green to Western Kentucky. In 2023 he totaled 390 rushing yards and 457 receiving yards.
  • Jaren Mangham, Michigan State – he entered the portal and committed to Minnesota. Previously played at Colorado and South Florida, with 1,332 rushing yards and 23 TDs over five seasons.
  • Damien Martinez, Oregon State – announced a transfer to Miami (1185 rushing yards with 9 TDs in 2023).
  • Alton McCaskill, Colorado – he will transfer to Arizona State. He redshirted the 2023 season at Colorado after sitting out 2022 with a knee injury. In 2021 at Houston he rushed for 961 yards with 16 TDs.
  • Andrew Paul, Georgia – he will be transferring to Jacksonville State (129 yards & 1 TD in 2023).
  • Vaughn Pemberton, Ball State – he announced he is withdrawing from the portal and returning to Ball State.
  • Juwaun Price, Syracuse – is transferring to North Texas. Over a five year career between New Mexico State and Syracuse has rushed for 1,119 yards and 11 TDs.
  • Simeon Price, Mississippi State – he announced a transfer to Coastal Carolina. Over the past two seasons he had 191 rushing yards and 125 receiving yards.
  • Leo Pulalasi, Washington State – he had to be carted off the field in the spring game with an apparent foot/ankle injury, and postgame it was announced he would need surgery and was expected to be out 6-8 weeks.
  • Hayden Reed, Army – he has rejoined the team after being away from the program this spring.
  • Tybo Rogers, Washington – he is no longer part of the program after being suspended indefinitely in April due to an arrest.
  • Domonique Thomas, Georgia State – he committed to transfer to Ole Miss after previously transferring from Clemson to Georgia State this offseason (116 yards & one TD with Clemson in 2023.
  • Ron Wiggins, Jacksonville State – he is withdrawing from the portal and returning to Jacksonville State after a 2023 season where he rushed for 468 yards and six TDs.
  • Sy’Veon Wilkerson, Colorado – he announced a transfer to Georgia State (190 yards & three TDs in 2023).
  • Makhilyn Young, New Mexico State – he committed to transfer to Vanderbilt (191 yards & two TDs in 2023).

Wide Receiver and Tight End News

  • Elijhah Badger, Arizona State – he announced he will transfer to Florida. Over the last two seasons with the Sun Devils he totaled 135 catches and 1,579 yards with 10 TDs.
  • Malik Benson, Florida State – the Alabama transfer is expected to be ready for fall camp after leaving the spring game with a lower body injury.
  • Khafre Brown, South Florida – he flipped his transfer commitment from Charlotte to Arkansas. In 2023 at USF he had 27 catches for 435 yards and five TDs.
  • Sam Brown, Houston – he is transferring to Miami (62/815-3 in 2023).
  • Dalevon Campbell, Nevada – will transfer to South Carolina. Over the last two seasons at Nevada he totaled 69 catches for 1,053 yards.
  • Jacari Carter, Georgia State – will transfer to Albany, he recorded 38 catches for 276 yards in 2023.
  • Joshua Cobbs, Houston – is transferring to South Florida. His best season came with Wyoming in 2022 (35 catches for 407 yards).
  • Jay Fair, Auburn – he announced a transfer to USC. In 2023 he had 31 catches for 324 yards at Auburn.
  • Zakhari Franklin, Ole Miss – entered the portal after playing in just four games with Ole Miss last season. He previously played four seasons at UTSA, with 266 catches for 3,386 yards and 38 TDs for his career.
  • Gavin Freeman, Oklahoma – is transferring to Oklahoma State (19/95-1 in 2023).
  • Ahmarian Granger, Old Dominion – announced he will transfer to James Madison (30 catches for 387 yards over last two seasons).
  • Julian Gray, NC State – is transferring to Liberty (30 catches for 293 yards over the past 3 seasons).
  • Joseph Griffin, Boston College – announced he will transfer to Wisconsin (43/579-6 over the past two seasons).
  • Agiye Hall, Texas – he is joining Central Florida as a preferred walk-on. He played at Alabama in 2021 then Texas in 2022 but did not play in 2023 after entering the portal.
  • Jack Hestera, Charlotte – he announced a transfer to Utah State (28/349-3 in 2023), he previously played for Colorado in 2022.
  • Destyn Hill, Florida State – he will miss the 2024 season after sustaining an injury in spring practice.
  • Jimmy Holiday, Western Kentucky – announced he will transfer to Louisiana Tech (20/326-2 in 2023).
  • EJ Horton, West Virginia – announced he will transfer to Florida Atlantic (10/201 last season).
  • Trent Hudson, New Mexico State – he will transfer to Mississippi State (36/571-10 last season).
  • Ja’Varrius Johnson, Auburn – he announced he will transfer to UCF. Over the past three seasons with Auburn he totaled 64 catches for 1,114 yards and eight TDs.
  • Jacoby Jones, Ohio – he announced he will transfer to UCF. In 2022 he had 45 catches for 677 yards and six TDs before missing most of the 2023 season with a leg injury.
  • TE Keleki Latu, Nevada – entered the portal and committed to Washington. He first played two seasons at Cal (14 catches for 179 yards last season in six games at Nevada before an injury).
  • Malik McClain, Penn State – entered the portal after one season at Penn State and announced a transfer to Arizona State. He began his career with two seasons at Florida State.
  • Chrishon McCray, Kent State – returned to play in the spring game after being limited to start spring (ankle).
  • Koy Moore, Auburn – entered the transfer portal (50 catches for 586 yards over four seasons between LSU and Auburn).
  • Reymello Murphy, Old Dominion – is transferring to Arizona (28 catches for 502 yards in 2023).
  • Troy Omeire, Arizona State – was in a walking boot before the spring game with an injury that is not believed to be serious.
  • Brionne Penny, San Diego State – he committed to transfer to James Madison (24/290-1 in 2023).
  • TE Bryce Pierre, Arizona State – announced he will transfer to UCLA (17 catches for 139 yards in 2023).
  • Justin Robinson, Mississippi State – he commited to transfer to West Virginia (51/583-3 over the last 2 seasons).
  • Charles Ross, San Jose State – he shared he is back in the portal after a previous report in January that he had committed to Ohio.
  • Raylen Sharpe, Missouri State – committed to transfer to Fresno State (991 receiving yards last season).
  • Marquis Shoulders, Tulsa – entered the portal (16/283-5 last season before a season-ending foot injury) and committed to Houston.
  • TE Payten Singletary, Cincinnati – entered the transfer portal (12/115-2 last season) and committed to South Florida.
  • TE Eli Stowers, New Mexico State – the converted QB announced he is transferring to Vanderbilt. In 2023 he totaled 35 receptions for 366 yards. He began his career at Texas A&M.
  • Dariyan Wiley, Nevada – announced a transfer to Vanderbilt after previously transferring from Louisiana-Monroe to Nevada in the offseason. He caught 24 passes for 400 yards and two TDs with ULM in 2023.
  • Devan Williams, Tulsa – entered the portal (29/399-2 in 2023) and committed to Houston.

Reminder: the college football injury news information on this list relies upon reputable reporters and sites rather than rumors or sources inside and around programs.

For up-to-the-minute college football injury news, transfer updates and position battles, check out the College Football News page, or follow us at @Unabated_CFB on Twitter. Want to talk CFB with Unabated members and staff? Come hang out with us on the Discord.

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