Transfer athletes make major contributions in the SEC on a seemingly annual basis.
Last season alone, players who ranked among the league’s better quarterbacks (Ole Miss' Chad Kelly), running backs (Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara), linebackers (Georgia’s Jake Ganus) and defensive backs (Auburn’s Blake Countess) all started their careers in different locales.
This season will be no different -- and in fact there are several candidates to make enormous impacts this fall. Here are our SEC writers’ picks to make immediate contributions with their new programs in 2016:
Edward Aschoff: There are a handful of intriguing transfers in the SEC. I'm sure I'll see Trevor Knight and Chris Black on this list. Both are fine choices and both will likely have big impacts on their respective teams. But I'm going with less-heralded Luke Del Rio at Florida. The journeyman quarterback started his collegiate career at Alabama before transferring to Oregon State. He didn't do much there either and is now in Gainesville. After sitting out a year, he might be the most important player on the team. Florida desperately needs improved and more tempered quarterback play. Treon Harris' status is unknown, and he likely wouldn't have been the starting quarterback anyway because of Del Rio's play this spring. Del Rio isn't a spectacular athlete and he won't wow you with his arm, but he makes the throws he needs to and he'll be a much more consistent option with the deep ball. Florida's offense rests on quarterback play, and if the Gators can put it together with their passing game, don't be shocked if Florida makes it back to Atlanta.
David Ching: I started to go with Ole Miss newcomer Rommel Mageo, the Oregon State transfer who adds much-needed depth at linebacker. But after looking over a list of the SEC’s potential impact transfers, I couldn’t help but think that Keith Ford might make an even bigger impression at Texas A&M. The Aggies have an enormous void at running back after Tra Carson's departure and former Oklahoma back Ford looks like an excellent candidate to fill that role. Injuries sidetracked Ford as a Sooner, opening the door for Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to take over most of the playing time that might have been available to him. Should he stay healthy at A&M, Ford will get another chance to be a feature back. Carson (1,165 rushing yards on 242 carries) handled 47.9 percent of the Aggies’ rushing attempts last season. While 2015 reserves like James White and Kwame Etwi are still around and freshman Trayveon Williams is angling to contribute early, Ford seems to be the favorite to start. He averaged 5-plus yards per carry in both of his seasons as an Oklahoma reserve. Doing that with a 200-carry workload this fall might be enough to help the Aggies regain much of their explosiveness.
Sam Khan Jr.: For me, it's a transfer who is taking over as the starter for his team at the most important position, Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight. We've seen highs (Sugar Bowl win over Alabama) and lows (three pick sixes and nearly a fourth in 2014) throughout Knight's Oklahoma career. The physical talent is definitely there -- he's big, he's mobile and he has a strong arm. He also has the type of attitude that the Aggies need at the position. But the last time we saw Knight play -- when he came in for an injured Baker Mayfield vs. TCU last season -- he left much to be desired. Will a change of scenery do Knight some good and provide the Aggies a steady, reliable option at a position where they've had such tumult or will we see what we saw in Norman, which is a talented player who was inconsistent? How he fares will play a large role in how the Aggies' season goes, so his 2016 intrigues me the most among SEC transfers.
Greg Ostendorf: I don’t know why it never worked out for Chris Black at Alabama. He had the talent. There was opportunity there. But the former ESPN 300 wide receiver never emerged as the playmaker many thought he would be. Now he’s at Missouri, a team in need of playmakers. No player caught more than 30 passes for the Tigers a year ago. The team’s leading receiver, J'Mon Moore, finished with just 29 receptions, 350 yards and three touchdowns. Moore is back, along with Nate Brown, but after a strong spring, it looks as though Black will be the third starter at wide receiver. And it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him emerge as Drew Lock's favorite target. Missouri needs a spark on offense. I think Black could be that spark.
Alex Scarborough: I'm going to go off the beaten path a bit on this one and say that Alabama has success with a transfer wide receiver for a second straight season. Last year it was Richard Mullaney who caught 38 passes, including five touchdowns, and this time around I expect former Bowling Green wideout Gehrig Dieter to be a difference-maker. He certainly has good size (6-foot-3) and a good pedigree (he had 1,000 yards receiving in 2015). What's more, the guy has excellent hands. Look at this grab where he shows he has a little Odell Beckham Jr. in him.