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Big 12 Football: Ten Biggest Impact Transfers for 2024

Oct 14, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) rolls out during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The transfer portal has become a centerpiece of conversation when it comes to college football. It seems that every year, at least one of the top players in the sport is playing for a new team when he bursts onto the scene.

In the Big 12, several teams have prioritized retooling their rosters via the portal and hope to see immediate dividends in 2024. There are plenty of new faces in the Big 12 this season, and many of them will make a huge impact right away.

That said, here are the 10 transfers who will make the biggest impact on the Big 12 race in 2024.


KJ Jefferson, QB, UCF (Arkansas)

A popular answer among Big 12 fans as the most likely candidate for the most impactful transfer for 2024, KJ Jefferson has the chance to be the biggest newcomer for any team in the conference. Jefferson started 36 career games at Arkansas and amassed 7,911 career passing yards and 67 passing touchdowns. He also added 1,876 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. As a dynamic and experienced quarterback out of the SEC, Jefferson steps into an opportunity under Gus Malzahn that could be incredibly fruitful for the fifth-year senior.

Dylan Edwards, RB, Kansas State (Colorado)

Dylan Edwards was one of the biggest names to enter the transfer portal this offseason, and for good reason. The former Colorado running back was one of the highest-rated running backs in the country as a member of the Buffs 2023 class, and now he’ll join former pee-wee teammate Avery Johnson in the backfield at K-State. Edwards scored four touchdowns in his first collegiate game (vs. TCU), three of which were receiving scores. Now, behind a much better offensive line, Edwards’ true talent can be unleashed. Standing at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, he fits the mold perfectly to become the Wildcats’ next legendary back, following in the footsteps of Deuce Vaughn and Darren Sproles before him.

Dorian Singer, WR, Utah (USC)

While some folks might’ve forgotten his name because of a lackluster year at USC, Dorian Singer could end up being the biggest single transfer addition for any Big 12 team this season. In 2022, Singer tallied 1,105 yards on 66 catches with six touchdowns and four 100-plus yard games. Then, last year, he recorded just 24 catches for 289 yards and three scores. If the former All-Pac-12 First Team selection can build some report with Cam Rising, he could end up being the weapon that puts Utah’s offense over the top. With the Utes’ defense expected to be strong once again, that would be a recipe for major success.


Jacory Croskey-Merritt, RB, Arizona (New Mexico)

One of two incoming transfer running backs for the Wildcats, Jacory Croskey-Merritt is expected to be the starter standing alongside Noah Fifita when the 2024 season kicks off. Last season with New Mexico, Croskey-Merritt turned in one of the best seasons in Lobo football history, rushing for 1,190 yards on 189 carries (6.3 ypc) with 17 rushing touchdowns, which ranked fifth nationally. With the loss of Jonah Coleman, Croskey-Merritt brings experience and production to the UA backfield. Combine him with Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan, and the Wildcats have a legitimate trio of stars on the offensive side of the ball.

Samuel Okunlula, DL, Colorado (Pittsburgh)

The biggest issues for Colorado in 2023 were undoubtedly at the line of scrimmage. Coach Prime is hoping that a second heavy infusion of portal talent will help that, and on the defensive side of the ball, that starts with Samuel Okunlula. CU’s top-rated transfer defensive lineman, Okunlula was the No. 32 overall player in the portal and will bring a much-needed edge to the defensive line in Boulder. Listed at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, the Pitt transfer played in 11 games last season and totaled 18 tackles, six tackles for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

Kaleb Elarms-Orr, LB, TCU (California)

The Joe Gillespie project didn’t work in Fort Worth, and now former Boise State head coach Andy Avalos will take over as the play-caller for the TCU defense. Avalos will implement a more aggressive approach to calling the Frogs’ defense, which bodes well for Kaleb Elarms-Orr. The Cal transfer linebacker was a Second-Team All-Pac-12 Selection in 2023 after leading the Golden Bears with Cal with 92 tackles, including a career-high 16 against Arizona State. He also paced the team with six quarterback hurries to go with 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. He should be the cornerstone of an improved defensive unit in 2024.


Peny Boone, RB, UCF (Toledo)

In 2023, UCF’s rushing offense ranked fourth nationally and second in the Big 12 with 228.2 yards per game. Two of their leading rushers—RJ Harvey and Johnny Richardson—are back, but the depth chart will look slightly different with Peny Boone now in Orlando. The 2023 MAC Offensive Player of the Year ranked eighth nationally with 1,400 rushing yards, third nationally with 7.22 yards per carry, and 11th nationally with 15 rushing touchdowns. Listed at 6-foot-1, 242 pounds, Boone is a punishing runner who will be lethal in Gus Malzahn’s scheme alongside Harvey, Richardson, and quarterback KJ Jefferson.

Tyler Johnson, IOL, Colorado (Houston)

As we mentioned above, Colorado’s play along the line of scrimmage in 2023 was horrendous. How bad? The Buffs ranked dead last nationally in rushing offense (68.9 ypg) and 107th in rushing defense (176.4 ypg). So, in order for things to improve, they’ll need much better play from the big fellas up front, and that’s where Tyler Johnson comes in. The former Cougar was one of the best guards in the Big 12 last season, and before that in the AAC. Johnson is one of five transfer O-linemen who will play a factor for the Buffaloes, with Justin Mayers (UTEP) and Kahlil Benson (Indiana) also figuring into the equation.

Dequan Finn, QB, Baylor (Toledo)

The second former Toledo Rocket on our list, Dequan Finn walks into a rather mysterious situation at Baylor, but there’s no mystery about the talent that he brings along with him. Over five seasons with the Rockets, Finn started 32 games and threw for 7,074 yards and 63 touchdowns while adding 1,840 yards and 25 scores on the ground. In 2023, Finn was named the MAC MVP after throwing for 2,657 yards and 22 touchdowns with 563 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. If Finn’s success can translate to his time in Waco—and Dave Aranda’s defense returns to form—the Baylor Bears could play a bigger role than expected in the Big 12 race.

Dante Cephas, WR, Kansas State

Yes, the running game is going to get the attention in Manhattan with a star-studded backfield, but if Kansas State’s passing game were to become prolific, they just might be headed for a Big 12 title and CFP appearance. Enter Penn State transfer wideout Dante Cephas. A quick look at his stats last season (22 rec, 246 yards, two TDs) might tell you not to expect much, but you’d be mistaken in this case. Before his time in Happy Valley, Cephas was a standout at Kent State and, over the last two seasons, was utterly dominant. In the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Cephas had a combined 130 receptions for 1,984 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 15.3 yards per catch. If he can produce the average of those two seasons (65 rec, 992 yards, 6 TD), K-State is a lock for the Big 12 Championship Game.

Honorable Mention

  • Bryce Foster, OL, Kansas (Texas A&M)
  • Jalin Conyers, TE, Texas Tech (Arizona State)
  • B.J. Green, DE, Colorado (Arizona State)
  • Carsen Ryan, TE, Utah (UCLA)
  • Jaden Bray, WR, West Virginia (Oklahoma State)
  • Brendan Soresby, QB, Cincinnati (Indiana)
  • Dayon Hayen, DL, Colorado (Pitt)
  • Raleek Brown, RB, Arizona State (USC)
  • Mekhi Mews, WR, Houston (Georgia)
  • Shane Bumgardner, OL, Kansas (Tiffin, D-II)
  • Gerry Bohanon, QB, BYU (USF)
  • Corey Platt, LB, Houston (Tulane)
  • Easton Kilty, OL, Kansas State (North Dakota)
  • Tyler Foster, TE, Oklahoma State (Ohio)
  • Josh Kelly, WR, Texas Tech (Washington State)

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