The NCAA transfer portal has seen more than its fair share of player movement in recent years, but none more-so than this offseason. While a good number of guys probably would have transferred regardless, simply looking to put themselves in a new situation they feel is better for their career, there is another huge added wrinkle this time around. As a result of the extra year of eligibility provided in response the COVID-19 pandemic, many athletes are now searching for new homes to continue their collegiate playing days.
Whatever the reason is for each individual, the Big Ten is certainly not immune to this wave of transfers, and there are a number of talented guys leaving the Midwest in search of greener pastures. These are some of the biggest names in the portal from each B1G school, listened in alphabetical order by program.
Illinois: WR Casey Washington
With Josh Imatorbhebhe off to the NFL Draft, the Illini wide receiver room was already taking a big hit, but that position group got even thinner with both Casey Washington and Trevon Sidney entering their names into the transfer portal. Washington, a three-star recruit in the 2019 class, was the team’s third-leading wideout in 2020 behind Imatorbhebhe and Brian Hightower, and was expected to be one of the team’s top-two receivers next season. Incoming head coach Brett Bielema now has his work cutout for him in the hunt for pass-catchers.
Indiana: WR Rashawn Williams
Head coach Tom Allen has a really good culture established in Bloomington, and he has been rewarded with a pretty quiet front in terms of outgoing transfers. Perhaps the biggest name leaving the program is Rashawn Williams, who despite not playing a snap with the Hoosiers as a freshman, was the 11th-highest rated recruit to commit to Indiana since 2000. Whop Philyor has declared for the NFL Draft, and while Williams and fellow wideout Jordan Jakes are leaving, the team returns Ty Fryfogle as well as incoming Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews to keep the cupboard stocked.
Iowa: CB Julius Brents
The Hawkeyes are another team that haven't been too heavily impacted by the transfer portal. While a handful of guys are on their way out of Iowa, the only real potentially significant loss is corner Julius Brents. After starting five games for the team in 2018, Brents was expected to play a big role in 2019 before a knee injury in fall camp forced him to miss the entire season. As a result, he fell behind in the depth chart in 2020, and is now committed to Kansas State.
Maryland: LB Chance Campbell
One of the bigger outgoing names in the conference in terms of their significance to their team, linebacker Chance Campbell is a huge loss for Maryland. The leading tackler for the Terps in 2020, Campbell finished third in the Big Ten and 18th nationally with 11 tackles per game, also leading Maryland with 5.5 tackles for loss on the season and earning an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. One of the Terrapins’ best defensive players, head coach Mike Locksley will surely be upset to see Campbell go.
Michigan State: CB Davion Williams
Part of a mass exodus out of East Lansing as new head coach Mel Tucker looks to turnover the roster, cornerback Davion Williams is one of 15 players to enter the portal out of Michigan State thus far. A former three-star recruit, Williams played in 23 games over three seasons, with a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He played sparingly as a redshirt sophomore in 2020, registering eight tackles over seven games. Joining Williams in the portal from Sparty includes QB Rocky Lombardi, fellow CB Julian Barnett, and a host of others.
Michigan: RB Zach Charbonnet
Much like their in-state neighbors, Michigan has seen a bunch of guys on their way out after a terrible 2020 season and some questions among the coaching staff. One of the biggest names of the 15 Wolveriness to enter the portal since October is Zach Charbonnet. Named the team’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 in a campaign that saw him put up 757 all-purpose yards as a freshman, Charbonnet fell victim to a four-man running back rotation in 2020 that left him with limited snaps. Michigan is also losing QB Dylan McCaffrey to the portal, as well as center Zach Carpenter, among others.
Minnesota: DT Noah Hickcox
Even despite the down year for the Golden Gophers, they have luckily not seen all too many transfers. Their biggest name on the way out is likely defensive tackle Noah Hickcox, who played in 26 games at Minnesota and had just seven total tackles in his career. They are also losing some potentially important depth pieces in guys like defensive end D’Vion Harris and safety Benny Sapp, but if anything they have benefited from the portal with the additions of former Clemson defensive lineman Nyles Pinckney and former Texas A&M wideout Dylan Wright.
Nebraska: QB Luke McCaffrey
On the flip side of Minnesota, you have a team like Nebraska, which has been just decimated by the transfer portal. Just this morning, the Huskers learned that quarterback Luke McCaffrey would be among those on their way out. McCaffrey started two games in 2020 as he split time with Adrian Martinez, and was in line to fight for the starting job next season. A dual-threat QB, McCaffrey compiled 830 total yards and four TDs this year. In addition to McCaffrey, the team also lost leading receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and fellow wideout Kade Warner.
Northwestern: RB Isaiah Bowser
A name potentially familiar to Ohio State fans after the matchup between the two teams in the Big Ten title game, Isaiah Bowser is on his way out of Northwestern. Part of a running back room by committee, Bowser ran for 230 yards and a TD this past season. Bowser was never quite able to recreate his breakout season with the Wildcats that saw him rush for over 860 yards as a freshman. Joining him in the portal is fellow RB Drake Anderson, who was also part of the backfield committee in 2020 with 256 yards rushing, as well as safety Gunner Maldonado.
Ohio State: WR Mookie Cooper
As of today, the Buckeyes only have one player in the transfer portal, and that is freshman wide receiver Mookie Cooper. A talented wideout out of St. Louis, Cooper saw the writing on the wall as likely the lowest man on the totem poll in one of the deepest receiver rooms in the country. While is no doubt a skilled player, it would have been tough for him to see the field in Columbus. He has since found himself a new home at Missouri, and we wish him the best as he gets off to a new start with the Tigers.
Penn State: OL/DL C.J. Thorpe
The Nittany Lions haven't been hit too hard by the transfer portal after a dismal 2020 campaign, but they will miss the services of C.J. Thorpe. A consistent piece on Penn State’s offensive line for the past two seasons, Thorpe appeared in 19 games while making eight starts at right guard. Bouncing between offensive and defensive line in his time with the Nits, Thorpe is hoping to play more on the defensive side of the ball at his next home. Penn State is also losing defensive tackle Antonio Shelton, who had a career year in 2020 with 3.5 sacks to finish second on the team.
Purdue: RB Tirek Murphy
Despite not playing a down at Purdue, the departure of Tirek Murphy is significant, as it leaves the Boilermakers with just two returning scholarship running backs. A former four-star recruit, Murphy was the No. 20 RB in the 2020 class, but did not touch the field and would wind up opting out of the season. He also found himself in a bit of trouble in West Lafayette, getting arrested in October for possession of marijuana prior to the team’s season opener. In addition to Murphy, the Boilermakers are losing WR Amad Anderson.
Rutgers: RB Kay’Ron Adams
A bit of a surprise entry into the portal, Rutgers will be losing sophomore Kay’Ron Adams. The team’s second-leading rusher among running backs in 2020, Adams posted 159 yards on 35 carries with a touchdown on the ground as well as four catches for 73 yards and another score through the air. Adams had some real bright moments in Piscataway, including a 37-yard TD in the second half against Indiana and a long TD to spark a comeback against Purdue in late November. He had committed to the Scarlet Knights under previous head coach Chris Ash.
Wisconsin: RB Nakia Watson
Watson was the heir apparent to Jonathan Taylor, serving as his backup in 2019 before the latter entered the NFL Draft. However, the emergence of Jalen Berger cut into Watson’s snaps, and by the end of the year Watson had fallen out of the rotation entirely, listed as inactive for the team’s last two games. Still, the back put up 191 yards rushing with a team-high three rushing touchdowns in 2020. With Berger returning and three RBs in the 2021 class, Watson has decided to take his talents elsewhere. The Badgers are also losing former starting QB Jack Coan, who has since transferred to Notre Dame.