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Big 12 Football Spring Transfer Portal Winners and Losers

Oct 7, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Colorado Buffaloes running back Dylan Edwards (3) against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the first half at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The times of college football having an offseason are behind us, as the transfer portal era has made the sport truly year-round.

Between high school recruiting, spring football, summer workouts, fall camp, the season, and the two transfer portal windows, there’s no downtime whatsoever.

With the process of team building becoming a never-ending process, teams are either getting better or getting worse with every passing week, and the spring transfer portal window has become a pivotal part of the calendar for college football teams.

After assessing roster situations throughout spring football, teams are afforded one last chance to procure important pieces in needed areas via the portal. However, the portal window also acts as a time when an unexpected roster hole could emerge, leaving teams in a predicament with just a couple of months before spring camp starts. In the Big 12, there were several teams on either side of the fence in this regard.

 

With that said, here are the winners and losers of the spring transfer portal cycle for Big 12 football.

Winners

Oct 14, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson (5) hands the ball to running back DJ Giddens (31) in the first half during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson (5) hands the ball to running back DJ Giddens (31)

Kansas State: Adding Dylan Edwards

The addition of Colorado transfer running back Dylan Edwards could end up being the difference between winning a Big 12 title and coming up short in 2024. With DJ Giddens and Avery Johnson already spearheading the Wildcats’ rushing attack, Edwards brings a different element of speed and suddenness and will be a major pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

If Chris Klieman and K-State can get the defensive side of the ball figured out once again–and I have no reason to believe they won’t–there’s nothing keeping me from picking them as one of two teams who will be in Arlington in early December.


Arizona Wildcats cornerback Tacario Davis (23)

Arizona: Retaining Tacario Davis

Any time you can keep one of the best defensive backs in America on the roster, it’s a huge win, and that’s exactly what Arizona managed to do this spring. The standout cornerback entered the transfer portal shortly after Jedd Fisch left for Washington, and many folks expected that he was as good as gone. However, as spring pressed on and Davis participated in team activities, the possibility of a return became increasingly apparent.

After learning that he will indeed play for the Wildcats in 2024, Arizona’s secondary looks to be among the best units in the Big 12. That, combined with an explosive offense under Noah Fifita, makes UA a team to watch in the conference race.

 
Dec 2, 2023; Detroit, MI, USA; Toledo Rockets running back Peny Boone (13) runs the ball against the Miami (OH) Redhawks in the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Toledo Rockets running back Peny Boone (13)

UCF: Adding a Plethora of Weapons

If I started off by telling you that UCF lost a former five-star running back and their presumed backup quarterback this spring, you’d assume they would be in the “Losers” category, right? Nope. The Knights did lose Timmy McClain and Demarkcus Bowman, but they replaced those losses and upgraded in both instances. Miami (FL) transfer Jacurri Brown will be a perfect fit behind KJ Jefferson, and Peny Boone looks like he might step into the Big 12–a heavyweight class for running backs–and be one of the best backs in the league.

Add former four-stars in CB Tre’quon Fegans (USC) and EDGE Nyjalik Kelly (Miami, FL), coveted Central Michigan IOL Keegan Smith, and standout Ohio WR Jacoby Jones, and it’s pretty clear that UCF cooked in the transfer portal this spring.


Losers

Houston Cougars wide receiver Samuel Brown (4)
Houston Cougars wide receiver Samuel Brown (4)

Houston: 21 Out, Seven In

In the early days of May, Houston has added several pieces that should factor into their roster when the 2024 season rolls around. Unfortunately, several pieces that were already on the roster have decided that their best interests are somewhere other than H-Town. Highlighted by Samuel Brown, Isaiah Hamilton, and Mikal Harrison-Pilot, the Cougars lost 21 total players this spring and have backfilled with just seven commitments to this point. That math just doesn’t add up.

 

Then, when you consider that Houston lost legitimate building blocks like Matthew Golden, Jamaree Caldwell, Tyler Johnson, and Chidozie Nwankwo this past winter, it gets a bit bleak for the immediate future. I have no doubt that Willie Fritz will get the Cougars going in the near future, but at first glance, it doesn’t look like that’ll be in 2024.


Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) throws a pass against Arizona during the third quarter at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Nov. 25, 2023.
Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada (5)

Arizona State: Stick a Fork In ‘Em

Arizona State saw 11 players enter the transfer portal in this cycle and added just three back, which by itself doesn’t sound too terrible. However, a few of the key losses will sting in the long-term. The first, and most obvious loss is Jaden Rashada transferring to Georgia. He was the QB of the future in Tempe (Az.), but now the former Elite 11 finalist is in Athens (Ga.) with a national championship contender.

Wide receiver Elijah Badger is getting all kinds of attention in the portal, and CB Ed Woods (Michigan State) and TE Bryce Pierre (UCLA) are headed to the Big Ten. Given the fact that the Sun Devils are entering a new conference and a tough one at that, it’s less than ideal that some of their most proven playmakers are heading to new programs just ahead of summer workouts.


Oct 7, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders with son and quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders with son and quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2)

Colorado: No, We Not “Good”

I don’t care that Colorado added 12 guys in the transfer portal this cycle, and I don’t care that some of them are excellent players. Yes, Quincy Wiggins, BJ Green, and Will Sheppard will make the Buffaloes a better football team, but at what cost?

Since the end of the 2023 season, 41 players on Colorado’s roster have transferred out of the program, and well over half of that total entered in the spring. Losing talents like Cormani McClain and Dylan Edwards hurt, and those are two examples of players who would have had an impact on the team in 2024. Yes, several players who portaled weren’t set to start, but that’s what college football calls “depth.”

The biggest loss for Deion Sanders and the company wasn’t a name or a single player but the manner in which the situation was handled. Both Deion and Shedeur Sanders have shown their hand, and they’re all about winning–which is 100% fine. That is the goal in competitive sports, after all. However, a few peeks inside the program have revealed that CU seems to suffer from a toxic culture, and the constant roster turnover is a clear indicator of that.

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