The introduction of the transfer portal has drastically changed college athletics. Just look at the last three weeks for Ryan Day. The Ohio State head coach felt his seat start to get warmer after the Buckeyes looked totally inept in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. Then Day not only puts together a massive haul in the transfer portal, he also brings in Bill O’Brien to take over as offensive coordinator for Ohio State. Not that Day won’t have a ton of pressure on him in 2024, he has just been able to make a string of smart moves to try and stack the deck in his favor.
What a last couple weeks it has been for Ohio State football in the transfer portal. The Buckeyes found a replacement for quarterback Kyle McCord, bringing in Kansas State quarterback Will Howard. Then Ohio State made a splash just as Michigan was winning the national title last Monday by receiving the commitment of Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins. Just a few days later, Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced his retirement, paving the way for safety Caleb Downs and five-star freshman quarterback Julian Sayin to decide their future would be brightest in Columbus.
Since it’s a long offseason, today we figured we’d have a bit of fun with the transfer portal. Because Ohio State has been killing it in the portal lately, why not get greedy? What if you had the power to bring any player in college football to Columbus via the transfer portal to play for the Buckeyes? Who would you take? Would it be a player for a position of need for Ohio State? Or would it be one of the most exciting players in the country at a position of strength for the Buckeyes?
Today’s question: Which college football player would be your dream target for Ohio State in the transfer portal?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Luke Lachey
Cade Stover was one of the best tight ends in school history, becoming just the only other tight end aside from John Frank to record at least 1,000 receiving yards during their Ohio State career. “Farmer Gronk” is now off to the NFL, leaving a big hole at tight end. With Emeka Egbuka injured for a chunk of the season, Stover was the second option in the passing game behind Marvin Harrison Jr. Stover finished the 2023 season with 41 catches for 576 yards and five touchdown receptions.
As if losing a receiver the caliber of Harrison isn’t going to be hard enough for Ohio State, the Buckeyes will also have to try and fill the void left by Stover. Unlike at wide receiver, where Ohio State already has talents like Carnell Tate and incoming freshman Jeremiah Smith to try and replace Harrison, the outlook isn’t quite as clear at tight end. That’s why in a perfect world where Ohio State could bring in any player they wanted, I have the perfect option for them in the transfer portal at tight end.
The 2023 season for Luke Lachey was one to forget. The Iowa tight end was injured three games into the season, finishing the year with just 10 catches for 131 yards. Lachey entered 2023 coming off a sophomore year that saw him haul in 28 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns. In the Hawkeye offense, 28 receptions might as well be 50-60 catches in a normal offense. Plus, Lachey will definitely have something to prove in 2024 after his junior season was cut short because of injury.
As if bringing in one of the top tight ends in the country wouldn’t be a huge get for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes, another reason my dream transfer portal target this year for Ohio State would be Lachey is because it would be a tremendous story. The father of the Iowa tight end is former Buckeye offensive lineman Jim Lachey, who teams with Paul Keels on the school’s radio broadcasts of the game. The additions of Howard, Downs, Judkins, and others has been great, but if Ohio State found a way to bring in Lachey it would really hit a lot of fans in the feels.
Matt’s answer: Francis Mauigoa
Since this is ostensibly an exercise in greed, untethered to reality, I would love for the Buckeyes to secure the services of Miami Hurricane offensive tackle Francis Mauigoa. The reasons are obvious; despite the incredible run in the transfer portal and retaining players from last year, the offensive line is still the one position with significant question marks. The Buckeyes added erstwhile Alabama starting center Seth McLaughlin, but otherwise, they have stood firm at o-line, having missed out on a homesick Kayden Proctor who left Tuscaloosa for his hometown Iowa Hawkeyes.
Bringing in Mauigoa would be an immediate line-changing move. Not only was the Bradenton, Florida native a top-10 player in the 2023 class, but he proved how good he could be by being named to numerous freshman All-America lists. He played right tackle for the Canes this season — Proctor was the LT on most freshman AA lists — so he could easily slide into that position for OSU, assuming Ryan Day, Bill O’Brien, Brian Hartline, and Justin Frye are comfortable leaving Josh Simmons on the left side; he started the season looking a little overwhelmed making the jump from San Diego State, but he finished the year as arguably the team’s best offensive lineman.
That would give you a starting offensive line of Simmons at LT, Donovan Jackson at left guard, McLaughlin at center, Josh Fryar at right guard, and Mauigoa at right tackle. While I still might have questions about some of those spots and wouldn’t mind further upgrades, bringing in another lock-down tackle would sure make me feel more comfortable about what Will Howard and the offense could do in 2024.
Of course, the added benefit of bringing in a player like Mauigoa is that you would have him for two seasons. Like Caleb Downs — another freshman All-American — he would almost certainly make an immediate impact, but would be on hand for two years. If he and Simmons didn’t flip sides in 2024, Mauigoa could easily move to the blindside for his junior campaign.
The Buckeyes are unlikely to add another offensive lineman from the transfer portal before the start of spring practice, but they could afterward — as they did last year. But they will assuredly give Luke Montgomery and Tegra Tshabola a chance to solidify starting spots on the line before the team decides if they need to go into the portal once more before the season starts.