Wilner – Pac-12 football: USC, Colorado lead our final transfer portal power ratings of 2023

The Pac-12’s dizzying 2022-23 transfer cycle is coming to a close after several hundred players passed through the portal over a six-month span. Some of them did so twice.

Our second and final canvassing of the upheaval led to slight changes in the Hotline’s transfer portal power ratings but no significant movement.

In contrast to the state of affairs across the conference last year, the focus was less on quarterbacks and more on the lines of scrimmage. So while the relevant bodies are big, the names are not.

(The initial rankings can be found here.)

1. USC
The Trojans understandably focused on the defensive line with Kyon Barrs (Arizona), Jack Sullivan (Purdue), Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M) and Bear Alexander (Georgia), who had two tackles-for-loss and a sack in the national title game. (That group accounts for more than a quarter of the total additions.) New faces at the skill positions were not nearly as head-turning as during the first offseason under Lincoln Riley, but receiver Dorian Singer (Arizona) should quickly become one of Caleb Williams’ favorite targets. And crucially, the Trojans were not hit hard by attrition. The departures were not high-impact players. Previous ranking: 2

2. Colorado
The unprecedented use of the transfer portal in Boulder cannot be covered in a few sentences, for CU essentially flipped its roster in a single offseason. Although more talent arrived than departed — the ace newcomers include quarterback Shedeur Sanders and cornerback Travis Hunter, who followed coach Deion Sanders from Jackson State — we wonder if the attrition left the Buffaloes perilously thin at certain positions. Also, a barrage of players who underperformed during the 2022 season have joined other Pac-12 schools. CU might have helped the competition more than many realize. Previous ranking: 1

No team made greater use of intra-conference transfers than the Bruins, who recently added offensive lineman Jake Wiley from Colorado. He joins receivers Kyle Ford (USC) and J.Michael Sturdivant (Cal), tight end Moliki Matavao (Oregon), defensive lineman Keanu Williams (Oregon) and linebacker Oluwafemi Oladejo (Cal) on the list of Pac-12 transplants now rooted in Westwood. But two players from the Mid-American Conference, quarterback Collin Schlee (Kent State) and tailback Carson Steele (Ball State), could have major impacts. Previous: 3

4. Washington
Two five-star recruits from a previous era, edge rusher Sav’ell Smalls and quarterback Sam Huard, are among UW’s 20 listed departures in the 247 Sports database. The collection of newcomers appears impactful and includes offensive tackle Jalen Klemm (Kansas State), tailbacks Dillon Johnson (Mississippi State) and Daniyel Ngata (ASU) and receiver Germie Bernard (Michigan State). The Huskies have a substantial returning core from their breakthrough season and didn’t require major changes. They needed targeted upgrades — and got them. Previous: 4

5. Utah
A late-spring decision stands as one of the most notable moves in the conference this offseason: Receiver Mycah Pittman, who caught 38 passes in three years at Oregon (2019-21), joined the Utes following a single season at Florida State. Utah rarely loses impact players to the portal, and the 2023 cycle was no exception. Meanwhile, the Utes fortified their defense with linebacker Levani Damuni (Stanford) and edge Logan Fano (BYU). Also, make note of kicker Cole Becker, who made 10-of-11 attempts for Colorado and should improve one of Utah’s few weaknesses. Previous: 6

6. Oregon State
Since the publication of our initial portal power ratings in February, the Beavers have added one player and lost … nobody. The addition is linebacker Calvin Hart (Illinois), who started 10 games for the No. 1 scoring defense in the country and should help OSU offset the loss of Omar Speights (to LSU). But the key newcomer was secured just prior to Christmas when coach Jonathan Smith received a commitment from Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, the highest-profile transfer to enter the Pac-12 this winter. If Uiagalelei plays to his potential, OSU should challenge for the conference title. Previous: 5

7. Arizona
Our assessment of Arizona has brightened this spring, thanks largely to Colorado. The Boulder exodus resulted in two impact players joining the Wildcats: receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig, who had 23 receptions last season, and edge rusher Taylor Upshaw, who spent five years at Michigan and a few months at Colorado before settling in Tucson. They join an incoming group that includes Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe, a former blue-chip prospect. The talent lost exceeds the talent acquired, but not to the extent it appeared a few months ago. Previous: 8

8. Oregon
Of the Ducks’ 33 departures listed in the 247 Sports database, 11 were former blue-chip recruits (four- or five-star ratings). Their collective on-field impact, however, did not match the level their reputations suggest. The newcomers are modest in numbers but seemingly high in quality. Atop that list is receiver Traeshon Holden, who caught six touchdowns for Alabama, and coveted offensive lineman Ajani Cornelius from Rhode Island. Coach Dan Lanning also landed cornerback Nikko Reed from Colorado, who followed the path carved by former Boulder-to-Eugene cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Previous: 6

9. Cal
A barrage of spring arrivals boosted Cal’s incoming transfer class to 20, signaling the school’s willingness to adjust its admissions policy to meet the reality of the portal era. (Put another way: Not all of the transfers are from MIT!) The recent additions include receiver Taj Davis (Washington), offensive lineman Matthew Wycoff (Texas A&M) and safety Patrick McMorris (San Diego State), whose impact could be immense. Much depends on quarterback Sam Jackson, who played sparingly at TCU and projects as the Week One starter. Previous: 10

10. Arizona State
If not for Colorado, ASU would stand as the Pac-12’s most active portal participant. All in all, the Sun Devils lost and gained approximately 60 players. The incoming group features two quarterbacks, Drew Pyne (Notre Dame) and Jacob Conover (BYU), plus a notable late addition in receiver Jordyn Tyson, who averaged 21.4 yards per catch last season for Colorado. But the emphasis for first-year coach Kenny Dillingham was on the line of scrimmage. ASU lost several starters but has acquired numerous potential replacements, many of them Power Five transplants. Previous: 7

11. Washington State
The output leads the input by a large margin, with 30 players leaving Pullman and only nine arriving. The personnel losses include linebacker Francisco Mauigoa (to Miami) and receiver De’Zhaun Stribling (to Oklahoma State). However, the Cougars can claim several quality newcomers, with two Mountain West receivers, Josh Kelly (Fresno State) and Kyle Williams (UNLV), atop the list. One recent acquisition is worth mentioning and, naturally, he’s from Colorado: defensive lineman Na’im Rodman, a likely starter given WSU’s dire need for experience along the front. Previous: 11

12. Stanford
The Cardinal added a handful of newcomers from the talent factories at LSU, Oklahoma and Penn State — oops, check that: Stanford’s three arrivals are from Florida International, Pennsylvania and Syracuse. (The admissions bar isn’t as flexible as the version in Berkeley.) Meanwhile, the lengthy list of departures is impressive and includes two players heading to Michigan (Myles Hinton and Drake Nugent) and one to Oklahoma (Walter Rouse). New coach Troy Taylor is playing the portal game with both hands tied behind his back and his legs in quicksand. Also, he’s blindfolded. Previous: 12