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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

SEC soccer transfers: New stars at Alabama, Texas able to make an prompt influence in 2024 season

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SEC colleges have been busy within the switch portal through the winter and spring home windows. 5 of the convention’s 16 colleges (together with Oklahoma and Texas, which be a part of on July 1) took no less than 20 switch prospects, greater than the final three cycles mixed. 

The SEC landed 5 applications inside the highest 10 of 247Sports’ Workforce Switch Rankings. Ole Miss, with a sturdy class that includes 24 transfers, beat Oregon for the highest spot. Newcomer Texas placed on a robust displaying with the No. 6 class, regardless of fewer additions than every of the 5 groups above and three groups behind it within the top-10. 

These efforts by every SEC workforce are a microcosm of the transformation occurring nationally as groups lean increasingly on the switch portal to both deal with particular areas of want or, in some circumstances, fully overhaul a roster. In fact, with a lot motion, there’s at all times some big-name prospects that determine to set out for a brand new program, regardless of the purpose could also be. 

Given its standing as one of many nation’s premier conferences and with loads of Faculty Soccer Playoff rivals in its ranks, the SEC netted its justifiable share of additives as we creep in the direction of the 2024 season. Listed below are some that can make a direct influence. 

Alabama has to switch 4 beginning defensive backs and a handful of key reserves because it transitions to the Kalen DeBoer period, together with all-star freshman security Caleb Downs and a pair of excessive NFL Draft picks at cornerback in Terrion Arnold and Kool-Support McKinstry. That makes Sabb invaluable. He was a key fixture in Michigan’s secondary rotation in 2023, beginning 5 video games at security for a Wolverines squad that went 15-0 en path to a Faculty Soccer Playoff Nationwide Championship. 

Certainly one of Sabb’s begins got here in that nationwide title recreation, the place he had six whole tackles and two move breakups in opposition to an explosive Washington offense. Now a junior with loads of Large Ten expertise beneath his belt, Sabb steps into Alabama’s protection as an unquestioned starter and an anticipated chief in a gaggle that has a protracted highway in the direction of coming collectively. Sabb ranked because the No. 5 security within the portal. 

Arkansas’ main rusher final season was quarterback KJ Jefferson, who had 447 web yards speeding. Not a single operating again on the Razorbacks’ roster received near the 400-yard bar. So as to add insult to harm, former 1,000-yard rusher Raheim Sanders entered the switch portal after an injury-riddled 2023 that noticed him restricted to simply six video games. Jefferson’s gone, too. That pitiful speeding assault was unusual to see for an Arkansas program that has traditionally pumped out elite operating backs, and it was one of many greatest catalysts behind this system’s 4-8 downturn.  

Ja’Quinden Jackson will attempt to get Arkansas’ operating recreation again on monitor in 2024. 

Jackson is the gem of a 22-player switch class, which Arkansas boss Sam Pittman hopes will revitalize his roster forward of a pivotal yr. The quarterback-turned-running again is tailor made for a power-running system. Jackson provides new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, who had two 1,000-yard rushers in 4 seasons as Arkansas’ head coach from 2008-11, a deadly weapon out of the backfield after speeding for 797 yards and 4 touchdowns at Utah in 2023. Jackson left an impression in Arkansas’ spring recreation with three whole touchdowns, certainly one of which he caught from equally vital switch quarterback Taylen Inexperienced. He’ll be a gradual hand for an Arkansas offense present process waves of change and may emerge as one of many SEC’s greatest rushers by yr’s finish. Jackson ranked because the No. 5 RB within the portal.

Ole Miss received a program-record 11 video games final season and cruised previous Penn State within the Peach Bowl regardless of fielding a protection that, at greatest, carried out simply above common and as a rule struggled in opposition to elevated competitors. Chief among the many points that plagued first-year defensive coordinator Pete Golding was an absence of physicality in opposition to the run. The Rebels allowed 151.9 yards speeding per recreation, which ranked ninth amongst SEC groups, and precisely 4 yards per carry. Meaning, on common, opposing groups may get a primary down and a few change by operating the ball three straight instances. 

Enter Nolen, the No. 3-ranked participant total within the portal that would virtually singlehandedly repair what ails the Rebels. The 6-foot-4 and 290-pound Nolen is tough to push round along with his sturdy middle of gravity and strong decrease physique. He is additionally lots disruptive, with 5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in two seasons at Texas A&M, and he has the flexibility to kill a run play earlier than it will possibly actually develop. He was already one of many SEC’s greatest inside linemen with the Aggies. Now, he fills a big space of want for a CFP competitor. 

Texas’ roster is in nice form after final season’s CFP run, and the Longhorns appear like a legit competitor of their first yr as an SEC program. However they did enter the offseason with one obtrusive downside: every of their high 5 receivers from that 2023 Large 12 championship workforce are gone. That features all three beginning wideouts — Xavier Worthy, Adonai Mitchell and Jordan Whittington — and tight finish Ja’Tavion Sanders, who mixed accounted for simply over 75% of Texas’ receiving yards and 19 of its 25 touchdowns via the air in 2023. 

Coach Steve Sarkisian hit the switch portal arduous to herald some expertise and upside. No addition means greater than that of Bond, who’s primed for a breakout after a robust near the 2023 marketing campaign. He gained nationwide acclaim along with his heroic landing catch to save lots of Alabama in its last-second win in opposition to Auburn and adopted that up with 9 catches for 128 yards within the postseason. An enormous-time playmaker, Bond ought to flourish with Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers delivering the ball. Bond ranked because the No. 4 total participant within the portal. 

After main the Large Ten in sacks final fall, Scourton — a product of Bryan, Texas — determined to return nearer to house after two years at Purdue. He received to the quarterback 10 instances in simply 11 video games, managing no less than half a sack in eight of these appearances. Scourton, the top-rated EDGE on this portal class, additionally had 42 whole quarterback pressures and wreaked havoc in opposition to sturdy competitors like Michigan and Ohio State, with three whole sacks throughout these contests. 

With Shemar Turner, who had six sacks final season, again to man the opposite edge, Texas A&M ought to discipline one of many SEC’s most ferocious move rushes. That will likely be an enormous boon as former Aggies defensive coordinator Mike Elko seems to make an impression in his first yr as coach. 

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High transfers for remaining SEC groups 

Auburn WR Robert Lewis: Penn State large receiver switch KeAndre Lambert-Smith additionally deserves a nod right here as he possible has extra upside, however there’s some concern about his lackluster near the 2023 season. Lewis offers extra consistency and can give the Tigers some much-needed playmaking out of the slot, the place he had 877 yards and 7 touchdowns at Georgia State in 2023. 

Florida WR Elijhah Badger: Badger has flown beneath the radar regardless of main Arizona State in receiving in consecutive seasons, with 1,579 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving in that span. He ought to emerge as a go-to goal for equally underrated Florida quarterback Graham Mertz in an offense that sorely wants dynamic choices outdoors of Eugene Wilson III

Georgia WR Colbie YoungerGeorgia is extremely deep at large receiver, thanks partially to a loaded switch haul that brings three new choices to the room. Younger is probably the most spectacular. At 6-foot-3, he has the pace to stretch the sector and offers the Bulldogs size on the wideout spot. 

Kentucky QB Brock VandagriffThe switch from Georgia steps in as Kentucky’s unquestioned starter and appears like a superb match for what the Wildcats love to do offensively. His lack of expertise — he had 21 move makes an attempt in three years with the Bulldogs — makes this a tough projection, however Vandagriff could have loads of assist due to Kentucky’s wealth of talent expertise. 

Brock Vandagriff lacks expertise, however his upside may assist Kentucky’s offense shine. 

LSU DB Jardin Gilbert: LSU wants all the assistance it will possibly get on protection after a poor 2023 that resulted in coordinator Matt Home’s ouster. Gilbert provides Blake Baker, Home’s alternative, an efficient security with loads of high-level SEC expertise after he began 10 video games at Texas A&M a yr in the past. 

Mississippi State QB Blake Shapen: He is not the kind of quarterback who’s going to compete for postseason awards, however Shapen is a strong veteran presence for first-year coach Jeff Lebby that threw for over 5,500 yards in three years at Baylor. He additionally impressed with 312 yards and three touchdowns in State’s spring recreation, which is proof that he is greedy Lebby’s up-tempo offensive scheme effectively. 

Missouri OL Cayden Inexperienced: Anytime a program like Missouri, which is constructing off a breakout 11-win yr, can land a former in-state top-100 prospect from the switch portal, it is a win. The truth that Inexperienced performed vital snaps as a freshman at Oklahoma with the flexibility to standout at both guard or sort out elevates this addition to a different stage. 

Oklahoma WR Deion BurksOklahoma retooled its offensive line with a number of transfers and plugged some gaps on protection, however Burks has immense star potential. A powerful season with QB Jackson Arnold feeding him the ball may see him develop right into a Day 2 NFL Draft prospect on the very least.   

South Carolina EDGE Kyle Kennard: South Carolina had 21 sacks as a workforce final season. Kennard had six by himself whereas starring at Georgia Tech. That may have simply led the Gamecocks, who have to do lots higher at getting after the passer. 

Tennessee OL Lance Heard: Heard, a former five-star prospect and the No. 3 offensive sort out in 247Sports’ Switch Rankings, performed some snaps at proper sort out as a freshman at LSU however entered the switch portal on account of some skilled choices forward of him. He’ll defend former five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava’s blindside at Tennessee, arguably a very powerful place on the offense outdoors of the QB itself. 

Vanderbilt QB Diego Pavia: Vanderbilt has a logjam at quarterback after taking three transfers. Pavia, the 2023 Convention USA Participant of the Yr, is the apparent choice to step in at starter after logging 2,973 yards passing and 33 touchdowns as a junior at New Mexico State. It helps Pavia’s case that former NMSU offensive coordinator Tim Beck joined Vanderbilt’s workers in December. 

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