In 2022, first-year coaches at Oregon, USC and Washington utilized the transfer portal to bring in high-caliber quarterbacks and provide much-needed jolts for the Pac-12's premier programs. Now, three more teams hope for a similar road to success, with Arizona State, Colorado and Stanford welcoming new regimes after falling to a combined 7-29 last season.
Arizona State and Colorado are leaning heavily on transfers to reinvigorate their rosters, with ASU at 29 so far and CU at a whopping 49 and counting, according to 247Sports. The Buffaloes' unprecedented roster overhaul under Deion Sanders dominated the college football news cycle for months. The offseason hype has ratcheted up anticipation as fans clamor for a glimpse of what Sanders can produce in his first season.
The Buffs' transformation has been well-documented as the 2023 season approaches, but there are transfers ready to make an instant impact across the Pac-12 landscape. In fact, some of the players who left Colorado amid the program's coaching transition have stayed in the league and will face their old team in the season ahead.
As the countdown to the kickoff inches closer, let's look at the Pac-12's top five transfers who are ready to shine right away at their new homes, followed by an examination of the top transfer from each remaining team in the league.
Colorado WR/CB Travis Hunter
Hunter famously flipped from Florida State to Sanders and Jackson State during the 2022 recruiting cycle, so the top recruit from that class is finally headed to the Power Five stage. After nabbing two interceptions -- one of which went for a pick six -- as a corner and scoring four touchdowns as a receiver in his freshman season, Hunter brings his elite speed and a diverse skillset to Colorado. Given the huge spotlight Sanders brings to Boulder, Hunter will have a chance to cement himself as one of college football's most electric players in front of a national audience.
The former Clemson quarterback is getting a fresh start after things grew stale over two years a starter with the Tigers. Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith is a former QB himself and a respected offensive mind who might be able to unlock more of the potential Uiagalelei showed as a five-star prospect and the No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2020. If this works out, the Beavers could post consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in program history.
Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders
Sanders made it clear from his first day on the job that his son will be the Buffaloes' signal-caller in 2023, but this isn't just a case of nepotism. The younger Sanders received Power Five offers as a three-star prospect in the Class of 2021 and proved he can play during his two years at JSU. He threw for 70 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions in two seasons playing for his father at Jackson State. He also amassed a 23-3 record as the starter and set school records for most touchdowns (40) and completions (344) in a season.
Arizona State QB Drew Pyne
First-year coach Kenny Dillingham quickly upgraded Arizona State's quarterback room by landing former Notre Dame starter Drew Pyne and touted freshman Jaden Rashada. Pyne completed 64.6% of his passes with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions last season after he was pressed into action early last year. He will have to beat out Rashada and returning starter Trenton Bourguet for the job, but should have a leg up as a veteran recruited by Dillingham.
USC WR Dorian Singer
As if the likes of Tahj Washington, Mario Williams, Brenden Rice and five-star freshman Zachariah Branch weren't enough, the Trojans added another big-time receiver to catch passes from Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. Singer earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors after catching 66 passes for 1,105 yards and six touchdowns at Arizona last season. Matching that production in a loaded receiver room at USC may be tough, but you can expect to see Singer playing a key role on a team with College Football Playoff aspirations.
Top transfers for remaining Pac-12 teams
- Oregon EDGE Jordan Burch: Burch enjoyed a breakout junior season at South Carolina, delivering on his five-star hype from his days as a prospect. He racked up 7.5 tackles for loss -- including 3.5 sacks -- for the Gamecocks among his 60 total tackles. He should provide an immediate lift to an Oregon defense that struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks last season. Burch will help solve that problem and has a chance to play himself into 2024 NFL Draft consideration.
- Washington RB Dillon Johnson: Johnson averaged 5.2 yards per carry in three seasons at Mississippi State and caught a whopping 149 passes out of the backfield while playing in the Bulldogs' Air Raid offense. Washington doesn't incorporate its backs into the passing game quite so much, but Johnson's versatility and bona fides will make him a useful cog in a prolific offense.
- California CB Nohl Williams: Cal's passing defense dipped in 2022, but reinforcements are on the way. Nohl Williams looks ready to hold down a starting role at cornerback. He intercepted three passes and deflected five more on the way to honorable mention All-Mountain West honors at UNLV last season.
- Arizona WR Montana Lemonious-Craig: Despite an abysmal team offensive output at Colorado, Lemonious-Craig caught 23 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Now he'll pair with the highly productive tandem of Jacob Cowing and Tetairoa McMillan to catch passes from veteran quarterback Jayden de Laura. McMillan had three catches for 154 yards with two touchdowns in the Buffs' spring game before hitting the portal. He'll get a shot at his old team on Nov. 11.
- Utah CB Miles Battle: Battle transitioned from receiver to cornerback after the second season of his five-year Ole Miss career. He's big for the position at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds but blossomed last season as a key cog in the Rebels' secondary. Now he will be part of the effort to replace star corner Clark Phillips III at Utah. The early reviews suggest Battle is in for a big role in his sixth and final season of college football.
- Washington State WR Kyle Williams: Williams proved to be a steady pass-catching threat in three seasons at UNLV and broke through with 12 touchdown receptions in just nine games last season. Washington State is replacing its top four receivers, which means there is a good chance he'll be racking up targets early and often. First-year offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle is bringing a pass-happy system from Western Kentucky and quarterback Cam Ward is back. That combination gives Williams a chance to enjoy a big year.
- UCLA WR J. Michael Sturdivant: UCLA is replacing buckets of offensive production from a 9-4 team. Landing a proven weapon from within the conference will ease the transition. The 6-foot-3 target caught 65 passes for 755 yards and seven touchdowns last season at Cal and should be a primary target for whomever wins the Bruins' quarterback battle.
- Stanford OL Trevor Mayberry: Landing transfers is tough for Stanford because of the school's lofty academic standards. But former Ivy League standout Trevor Mayberry has the potential to be a difference maker in coach Troy Taylor's first season. He started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore for Penn. The son of former Pro Bowl center Tony Mayberry projects as a starter for the Cardinal in 2023.