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Stan Becton | | August 27, 2023

Here's what you might have missed from the FCS transfer portal

QB Jason Brown wins MEAC/SWAC Challenge MVP in his Jackson State debut

August is here, football is in the air and preseason FCS camps are underway around the country. Plenty of FCS rosters will have a new look this fall after players moved in and out of the transfer portal all offseason. 

Let's take a look at what you may have missed from FCS teams in the transfer portal heading into 2023.

UIW reloads

After Incarnate Word made its first FCS semifinal appearance in program history in 2022, it lost its head coach and starting quarterback for the second straight year. Those two weren't the only departures from the Cardinals, however, as UIW lost almost 20 transfers from last year's team.

However, UIW went deep into the transfer portal to reload its roster. UIW grabbed three FBS quarterbacks for its offense: Ryan Stubblefield (East Carolina), Richard Torres (Nebraska) and most notably, Zach Calzada (Auburn). One of the three incoming quarterbacks will follow in the footsteps of Cameron Ward — a Jerry Rice Award winner — and Lindsey Scott Jr. — a Walter Payton Award winner. There are big expectations for the winner of the starting job.

On defense, All-MEAC defensive lineman Marcus Brown comes in from Howard, and former Under Armour All-American Ayodele Adeoye joins from Sacramento State. Both will add to a pass rush that lost two first-team All-Southland defensive linemen. These are some of the bevy of moves UIW made this offseason as one of the most active teams in the transfer portal.

Big Sky schools pick up transfer quarterbacks

A trio of Big Sky schools hope the transfer portal can provide their teams with solid options at quarterback. Cal Poly transfer Sam Huard is the most noteworthy quarterback addition to the Big Sky as the former five-star recruit comes in from Washington. Elsewhere, Carson Camp heads to Sacramento State after showing flashes at South Dakota over the last three seasons. If Camp wins the starting job, he'll have to replace Sacramento State's All-Big Sky quarterback duo of Jake Dunniway and Asher O'Hara from last year.

Injuries at quarterback threw a wrench in Montana's season last fall and starter Lucas Johnson has moved on. While his backup Kris Brown remains on the roster, the Grizzlies brought in Sam Vidlak from Boise State and Clifton McDowell from Central Arkansas. Vidlak enters fall camp after going 11 for 15 for 152 yards and two touchdowns in Montana's spring game, while Brown went 8 for 12 for 79 yards and a touchdown through the air and on the ground. 

QB1: The top 10 returning FCS quarterbacks in 2023

FCS playoff hopefuls add to the trenches

Rhode Island was one of the first teams out of the 2022 playoffs, but the Rams return plenty of talent. Quarterback Kasim Hill remains in the upper ranks of FCS quarterbacks, and Rhode Island returns four starters to its offensive line to protect him, including potential All-American Nick Correia. However, the Rams lost arguably their best offensive lineman in the transfer portal last year as Ajani Cornelius went to Oregon. Kevin Pyne (Boston College) and Brock Bethea (Chattanooga) are the top two candidates to replace him at offensive tackle, hoping to replicate Rhode Island's offensive success.

Rhode Island's CAA counterpart William & Mary added Tyler Payne to an offensive line that lost NFL draft pick Colby Sorsdal this offseason. Meanwhile, Furman added a trio of offensive linemen in Kody Varn, Fred Norman Jr. and Tex Elliott. All three beef up a Paladins team with have high expectations this fall after tying for first in the preseason SoCon poll.

ROOKIE COACHES: 6 FCS coaches primed for success in year one

Standout FCS running backs find new homes

New Central Arkansas running back ShunDerrick Powell transferred over from North Alabama this offseason. Powell ran for the fourth-most rushing yards in the FCS in 2022 and now joins All-ASUN selection Darius Hale to form one of the best backfields in the FCS.

Other notable running backs to find new homes include Juwon Farri heading from Monmouth to Eastern Illinois, Devon Starling leaving Tennessee State for Northern Arizona and Caleb Johnson going from Mississippi Valley State to Prairie View A&M.

HBCUs stock up in a transfer portal arms race

A look at any FCS transfer portal tracker will show that HBCUs were some of the most active FCS teams in the transfer portal. Teams like Jackson State and Florida A&M added double-digit transfers, while some players went from one HBCU to another in an offseason of transfer portal musical chairs. After all of the movement, some transfers with the biggest potential impact lie in the secondary.

Safety Esaias Guthrie sat out most of 2022 after announcing his intentions to transfer from Delaware State, and now the Freshman All-American is at Jackson State. Guthrie quickly took on a leadership role for the Tigers — both on the field or recruiting other players on social media — and he figures to lead a secondary that lost multiple starters. Cornerback Brandon Savage missed the 2022 season at Norfolk State due to injury after entering the season as one of the top corners in the FCS. Now, Savage heads back to his home city of Baltimore to play for a Morgan State team that could make some noise in the MEAC. Lastly, All-NEC safety Jeremiah Josephs transferred from Duquesne to Tennessee State, providing Eddie George with a fearless hitter who has ball skills on the backend.

2023 HBCU FOOTBALL: Schedule, scores, rankings and updates

Top FCS talents find new FBS homes

If those transfers weren't intriguing enough, here's a look at 30 notable FCS players who have played their final FCS snaps by transferring to the FBS level.

  • QB Bronson Barron | Weber State to Western Kentucky
  • QB Tony Muskett | Monmouth to Virginia
  • QB Shedeur Sanders | Jackson State to Colorado
  • RB Ryan Butler | Princeton to Stanford
  • RB Isaiah Ifanse | Montana State to Cal
  • RB Kobe Johnson | North Dakota State to Colorado State
  • RB Bhayshul Tuten | North Carolina A&T to Virginia Tech
  • RB Cameron Skattebo | Sacramento State to Arizona State
  • RB Zak Wallace | UT-Martin to Arkansas State
  • WR Andrew Armstrong | Texas A&M-Commerce to Arkansas
  • WR Dequece Carter | Fordham to Indiana
  • WR Jacari Carter | Merrimack to Georgia State
  • WR Joey Hobert | Utah Tech to Texas State
  • WR/CB Travis Hunter | Jackson State to Colorado
  • WR Makai Jackson | Saint Francis (PA) to Appalachian State
  • WR Drae McCray | Austin Peay to Texas Tech
  • WR Phoenix Sproles | North Dakota State to James Madison
  • TE McCallan Castles | UC Davis to Tennessee
  • OL Corey Bullock | North Carolina Central to Maryland
  • OL Ajani Cornelius | Rhode Island to Oregon
  • OL Nick Gargiulo | Yale to South Carolina
  • OT Nash Jones | UIW to Texas State
  • DL Kamari Stephens | Florida A&M to Jacksonville State
  • DL Nyles Gaddy | Jackson State to Missouri
  • LB B.J. Davis | South Carolina State to East Carolina
  • LB Trey Laing | Southern to Indiana
  • LB Stone Snyder | VMI to Virginia Tech
  • CB Antonio Carter | Rhode Island to Notre Dame
  • CB Alijah Huzzie | ETSU to North Carolina
  • CB Zy Alexander | Southeastern Louisiana to LSU

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