The five biggest transfer portal winners in the ACC
The transfer portal has continued to become a bigger and bigger part of how college football coaches build their rosters. Here are the five ACC programs that bolstered their 2022 teams the most via the transfer portal this offseason and some of their key acquisitions.
1. FLORIDA STATE
The Seminoles have not finished a season with eight or more victories and a bowl win since the days of the Obama administration. Mike Norvell looks to change that in his third season in Tallahassee.
He added quality talent via the portal, most notably Jared Verse (Albany), who may be the key to improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Verse recorded 74 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks,15 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles at Albany and has emerged as an elite pass rusher and a player on the NFL radar. Verse, who has three years of eligibility remaining, disrupted plays more often than any FSU defender in spring practices.
Linebacker Tatum Bethune (UCF) recorded 185 tackles, 13 for loss with 4.5 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and five quarterback hurries in 35 games and 16 starts for UCF. His average of 9.0 tackles per game ranked second in AAC in 2021. Running back Trey Benson gives the Noles a powerful back with speed. In the spring game he rushed for 77 yards on seven carries.
Winston Wright (West Virginia) led the Mountaineers in receiving yards each of the past two seasons. In his three-year WVU career, Wright caught 129 passes for 1,338 yards and seven touchdowns. He is also a lethal kick returner. Norvell added several other wide receivers from the portal, and Wright gives him a proven playmaker.
The Hurricanes not only limited roster attrition during a coaching change but added age and depth along their defensive line. Mitchell Agude (UCLA) earned Pac-12 Second-Team honors by recording 54 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and four forced fumbles despite playing with a leg injury for much of last season.
Akheem Mesidor (West Virginia) is a very effective pass rusher who was credited with 33 quarterback hurries last season. That ranked top 10 among Power Five defensive tackles. He has experience playing outside as well as nose tackle. Agude and Mesidor join Antonio Moultrie (UAB) and Jake Lichtenstein (USC) as portal additions up front.
On the other side of the ball, Henry Parrish (Ole Miss) has a chance to be the featured back for the Hurricanes. He's got some wiggle and could be used in a very similar manner to the way that Mario Cristobal used Travis Dye last season.
Two key portal adds by the Cardinals were DT Jermayne Lole (Arizona State) and Tiyon Evans (Tennessee). Lole brings much-needed size, quickness and experience to the Louisville line. He is simply a difference-maker on defense. Lole missed last season with a triceps injury. ASU only played four games in 2020, but in 2019 Lole impressed with with 72 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Evans is a big-time weapon with size, speed and power. He rushed for 525 yards on 81 carries and scored six touchdowns last season at Tennessee. Evans was the Vols' leading rusher before an injury caused him to miss the final four games of the season.
A standout at at Central Arkansas, Tyler Hudson played in 33 games and finished his career with the Bears with 167 catches for 3,062 yards and 27 touchdowns. He had 14 100-yard games and earned first-team FCS All-American honors last season.
4. GEORGIA TECH
The Yellow Jackets lost two key players to the SEC, including leading rusher Jahmyr Gibbs. However, Dylan McDuffie (Buffalo) and Hassan Hall (Louisville) will factor into the running back-by-committee approach Geoff Collins and new offensive coordinator Chip Long will use. Hall is also a dangerous kick and punt returner.
Pierce Quick (Alabama) has reportedly played his way into a starting job at guard during the spring. He has three seasons of eligibility remaining. The secondary added Ahmari Harvey (Auburn) and Khari Gee (Notre Dame). Zach Gibson (Akron) settles in at QB2 behind third-year starter Jeff Sims.
5. NORTH CAROLINA
ACC opponents will be familiar with Noah Taylor (Virginia), who had 13 sacks as a three-year starter for the Cavaliers. He was third on the team in tackles (65) last season. UNC will used him at Jack, which should lead to Taylor making more game-changing plays.
Defensive lineman Jacolbe Cowan (Ohio State) returns to his native North Carolina. He redshirted in 2020 as a true freshman. In 2021, Cowan saw action as a backup DE. Corey Gaynor (Miami) and Spencer Rolland (Harvard) provide experience and depth to the offensive line.