From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about checking in on Ohio State’s opponents. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”Behind Enemy Line” articles here.
We have seen the college football landscape change dramatically over the last decade. One of the biggest changes recently has been the introduction of the transfer portal. Student athletes were previously allowed to transfer to another school, but in most cases they had to sit out a year before they were allowed to play at the school they were transferring to. Now in most cases, student athletes are allowed to transfer without having to sit out a year.
Even though the friendlier transfer portal has been only available to student athletes for a short time, we have already seen how big of a difference it can make for players and schools.
Shortly after taking the head coaching job at Michigan State, Mel Tucker used the transfer portal to overhaul the roster, and earn a huge contract extension after the Spartans went 11-2 in 2021. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams entered the transfer portal following the 2021 season to follow Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley to USC after Riley accepted the same position with the Trojans. Along with Williams, USC brought in Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award with the Panthers.
Sometimes the transfer portal can make it hard to keep up with who is playing where. With the season around a month and a half away. we’re going to give you a bit of a “Cliffs Notes” version of what has gone on with the transfer portal so far this offseason, and let you know which incoming transfer could make the biggest impact at their new school.
Today we’ll tackle the other teams in the Big Ten East outside of Ohio State, and later in the week we’ll move over to the Big Ten West.
Indiana: Tayven Jackson - Quarterback
I was tempted to give this spot to defensive lineman Andre Carter, who transferred from Western Michigan, since the Hoosiers pass rush was so bad last season. An even bigger problem for Indiana last year is they had no stability at quarterback. Connor Bazelak threw over 400 passes last season, but he transferred to Bowling Green in the offseason. Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle also hit the transfer portal, moving to Michigan.
Coming out of high school in Indiana, Jackson was a top-20 ranked quarterback. The brother of former Indiana basketball player Trayce Jackson-Davis committed to Tennessee, appearing briefly in three games before deciding to return to his home state. Now a redshirt freshman, Jackson has the chance to win the starting quarterback job in Bloomington.
The key for Jackson if he is able to be named the starter out of preseason camp is to not get too down after the first game of the season, since Indiana plays Ohio State — a game Jackson will likely struggle in. Jackson does have an established target in Cam Camper, who caught 46 passes for 569 yards before tearing his ACL in October. If the Hoosiers give Jackson a chance to grow into the job, they could have an answer at quarterback for a few years.
Maryland: Tyrese Chambers & Kaden Prather - Wide Receivers
Since Maryland lost a lot from their receiving corps from 2022, I decided to go with a duo of transfer receivers to make an impact for the Terrapins this year. Gone from last year’s team are receivers Rakim Jarrett, Jacob Copeland, and tight end CJ Dippre. Even though quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has receiver Jeshaun Jones and tight end Corey Dyches coming back, it was pretty obvious Tagovailoa was going to need more help this season if the Terrapins want to make a bowl game for the third-straight year.
Enter Tyrese Chambers from Florida International and West Virginia transfer Kaden Prather. Chambers is more of a speed receiver, while Prather has some size and is more of a possession receiver. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for Chambers, as he averaged just 10.7 yards per catch and hauled in four touchdowns, which fell way short of his 23.9 yards per catch average and the nine scores he recorded in 2021. Prather’s 52 catches in 2022 ranked second on the team at West Virginia.
Michigan: Ernest Hausmann - Linebacker
While Josaiah Stewart from Coastal Carolina could also make an impact at the EDGE position for the Wolverines, even more intriguing is Ernest Hausmann, who transferred to Ann Arbor from Nebraska. Hausmann appeared in 12 games as a freshman, recording 54 tackles and a sack for the Cornhuskers. Having already seen so much time on the field for a Big Ten team, the future is bright for Hausmann.
What makes Hausmann an even more intriguing player to watch this year is while the Wolverines have Junior Colson and Michael Barrett at linebacker, the Nebraska transfer will still have plenty of opportunities to get on the field. It also doesn’t hurt that the Wolverines have a pretty easy schedule early on, which will allow the team to ease Hausmann into the rotation and get an even better feel for how he can help the team on the field.
Michigan State: Tunmise Adeleye - Defensive Lineman
Mel Tucker may be trying to find his next Kenneth Walker III with UConn running back Nathan Carter coming to East Lansing from UConn, but the best player the Spartans brought in from the transfer portal this year is Texas A&M defensive lineman Tunmise Adeleye. The reason I went with Adeleye over Carter is Michigan State already has running back Jalen Berger, who should see the majority of the carries this season.
The addition of Adeleye should help a defense that gave up over 400 yards per game last season, with nearly 180 yards per game coming on the ground. Adeleye was named an Under Armour All-American in high school in Texas, and regarded as one of the best defensive line prospects in the country. If he is a name you recognize, it is because he was at one point committed to Ohio State.
After committing to Texas A&M, Adeleye had a hard time finding the field, getting lost amongst the large number of talented defensive lineman that Jimbo Fisher had brought in. With more of an opportunity to get on the field at Michigan State, Adeleye should be able to remind people of why he was near the top of the prospect rankings coming out of high school.
Penn State: Dante Cephas - Wide Receiver
After Sean Clifford started at quarterback for the last 36 years for Penn State, the Nittany Lions will finally have a new starter this year behind center, as Drew Allar will take over from Clifford, who finally exhausted his college eligibility. Along with Clifford, Penn State also will be without their two leading receivers from last year, Mitchell Tinsley and Parker Washington, who also are now in the NFL.
Enter Kent State transfer Dante Cephas. The Kent State transfer earned First Team All-MAC honors the last two seasons for the Golden Flashes. Cephas caught 82 passes for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021, and last season hauled in 48 passes for 744 yards and three scores. Even though Cephas played at a Group of Five school, Kent State loaded their non-conference schedule with tough Power Five opponents the last two years, so moving to the Big Ten shouldn’t be a challenge for Cephas. Expect to hear Allar finding Cephas early and often this season.
Rutgers: Michael Dixon - Defensive Back
Let’s be honest, nobody really makes a big impact at Rutgers. Even though Ole Miss defensive end transfer Isaiah Iton could be an interesting pickup after not seeing much playing time for the Rebels, I’ll take Minnesota transfer “Flip” Dixon to be an impact player for the Scarlet Knights this year. Not only does Dixon already have some knowledge of who he’ll be lining up against after playing at Minnesota, he will be reuniting with Rutgers defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak, who held the same position in Minneapolis for two years.