The most compelling transfer portal storylines in the Big Ten
With the college football season openers just around the corner, we take a look at the most compelling transfer-related storylines within the Big Ten.
1. Will Nebraska's transfer game keep Scott Frost off the hot seat?
Frost has accumulated an overall record of 15-29 and has yet to make a bowl appearance as he enters his fifth year at the helm of Nebraska. To say his seat is hot coming into the 2022 season would be an understatement. The Cornhuskers will be relying on a league-high 15 transfers in hopes of turning last year's 3-9 team into a bowl campaign this season.
Among the notable additions include former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, who will replace Adrian Martinez, who is now at Kansas State. On defense, Nebraska added former TCU defensive end Ochaun Mathis, who was All-Big 12 second team a season ago. Frost and his staff have also added plenty of potential starters and depth at offensive line, wide receiver, defensive line, secondary and special teams.
We'll see if this new-look Nebraska squad can keep Frost in Lincoln through the 2022 season and beyond.
2. Does Michigan State have the most talented linebacker group in the Big Ten?
Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker and his staff made some solid additions through the transfer portal this offseason. Perhaps, their biggest pickups came at linebacker with the additions of Aaron Brule from Mississippi State and Jacoby Windmon from UNLV.
Brule started 19 games during his three seasons at Mississippi State. Last season, he posted 52 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in eight starts. Windmon was a two-year starter at UNLV and tallied 118 tackles last season to go along with 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
Both are Louisiana natives and have been with the Spartans since January. Add those two to complement All-Big Ten honorable mention Cal Haladay and the Spartans have a linebacking core that could be the best in the conference.
3. Purdue adds WR talent courtesy of Iowa, setting up a compelling matchup in November.
Purdue had some depth issues at wide receiver heading into the 2022 season with David Bell now in the NFL and Milton Wright ruled academically ineligible. The Boilermakers added some talent to that position group courtesy of Big Ten West Division foe Iowa, as former Hawkeyes wideouts Tyrone Tracy Jr. and Charlie Jones are now a part of Purdue's high-powered offense led by quarterback Aidan O'Connell.
Tracy Jr., a native of Indianapolis, led the Hawkeyes in receiving as a freshman with 589 yards during the 2019 season. However, his production has dropped since then, tallying just 154 yards in 2020 and 106 yards in 2021. Jones caught 21 passes for 323 yards and three scores last season for Iowa while also averaging 25.4 yards per kickoff return, which included a return score against Illinois.
Purdue will host Iowa on Nov. 5 in a matchup that should have extra meaning for both Tracy Jr. and Jones.
4. Bret Bielema leaning on transfer QB to take the next step at Illinois.
Illinois finished 5-7 in Bret Bielema's first season at the helm. Now, Bielema is looking to take that next step in returning to his previous Big Ten glory days and will likely do so with former Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito under center. The Illini's passing attack was abysmal last season, finishing last in Big Ten passing offense, averaging just 156 yards per game.
DeVito wasn't a highly-touted transfer during the offseason. His best season with the Orange came in 2019 where he threw for 2,360 yards and 19 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Last season, he was benched in favor of Garrett Shrader and entered the portal three games into the season.
Regardless, DeVito has been impressive throughout spring football and fall camp for Illinois. While Bielema remains tight-lipped on naming a starter heading into the opener against Wyoming on Saturday, many around the program believe DeVito will get the nod.
5. Mitchell Tinsley, a significant part of Penn State?
Replacing the production of All-American wide receiver Jahan Dotson was a big need for the Nittany Lions this offseason and received a more than suitable replacement in the form of Western Kentucky product Mitchell Tinsley.
Last season, Tinsley hauled in 87 passes for 1,409 yards and 14 touchdowns and was a favorite target of record-setting quarterback Bailey Zappe.
Tinsley averaged 100 receiving yards per game last season, so the newcomer combined with Parker Washington should provide one of the Big Ten's best 1-2 punches at wide receiver for quarterback Sean Clifford and Penn State's passing attack.