Thousands of college football players entered the transfer portal this past offseason looking for a new school. Some players jumped from the , while others took the leap from the Group of Five to a power conference program. Still others went down a level (or more).
By now, the biggest names have been established. Travis Hunter, the former No. 1 overall recruit who originally signed with Deion Sanders and Jackson State, followed Coach Prime to Colorado. Quarterback Sam Hartman arrived at Notre Dame after spending the first five years of his college career at Wake Forest. The No. 7 overall player and top-ranked quarterback in the transfer portal rankings, according to 247Sports, made his debut in Week 0 with four touchdown passes in a blowout over Navy.
But who are the lesser-known transfers ready to make an instant impact this season? With so many new faces in new places, there are bound to be breakout stars that were previously overlooked during the offseason portal frenzy. Here are eight transfer portal sleepers to watch for this fall.
Jack Plummer, QB, Louisville
Previous schools: Cal, Purdue
Plummer wasn't a highly ranked portal prospect (No. 451 overall, No. 34 quarterback) despite coming off the best statical season of his career. The lack of team success at Cal (4-8 in 2022) didn't help his cause, but he had 3,095 yards passing and 21 touchdowns in 12 starts. The talent around Plummer at Louisville will be better than what he ever had in Berkeley, though. The Cardinals return two of their top three pass-catchers from a year ago and added the following wide receivers via the portal: Georgia State's Jamari Thrash, Cincinnati's Jadon Thompson, Jackson State's Kevin Coleman and Tennessee's Jimmy Calloway. Reuniting with his old coach, Jeff Brohm, also sets up Plummer for success in his final college season.
Cameron Skattebo, RB, Arizona State
Previous school: Sacramento State
Skattebo is one of the best running backs in college football you probably haven't heard of ... yet. Skattebo rushed for nearly 1,400 yards, averaging 7.0 yards per carry, and earned Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year honors in his first season as a starter. The No. 340-ranked player from the transfer portal plays a bruising style of football and routinely made highlight reels by trucking or hurdling defenders. Arizona State Southern Utah.for the 2023 season and is in the midst of a major rebuild under first-year coach Kenny Dillingham. Still, Skattebo will be a player to watch after rushing for 75 yards and a score in the Sun Devils' Week 1 win over
Sean Tyler, RB, Minnesota
Previous school: Western Michigan
Tyler entered the transfer portal following the 2022 season and initially committed to Oklahoma State before changing his mind weeks later and enrolling at Minnesota. The former Western Michigan star ranked as the No. 197 overall player and the No. 13 running back despite consecutive 1,000-yard rushing efforts. He has big shoes to fill after Mohamed Ibrahim, one of the best running backs in Minnesota history, graduated Tyler should serve as a solid replacement and could establish himself as one of the best at his position in the Big Ten.
John Paul Richardson, WR, TCU
Previous school: Oklahoma State
The national runner-up from last season has to replace a majority of its offensive production, including top wide receiver Quentin Johnston. Richardson ranked as the No. 231 overall player and the No. 48 wide receiver in the portal but should make an immediate impact in Fort Worth. Projected to be TCU's starting slot receiver, Richardson caught 49 passes for 503 yards and four touchdowns in 2022 for the Cowboys. He is familiar with the Big 12 and should serve as a security blanket for TCU starting quarterback Chandler Morris.
Previous school: UCF
O'Keefe was a stalwart among UCF's pass-catchers, even leading the team in yards receiving in 2021. Still, he was ranked as the No. 218 overall player and No. 46 wideout in the portal. With Boston College replacing three of its top four pass-catchers from a year ago, most notably star wideout Zay Flowers, O'Keefe should see plenty of playing time this fall. He'll have an opportunity to establish a strong rapport with new starting quarterback, Emmett Morehead, who made four starts during the 2022 season.
Nick Jackson, LB, Iowa
Previous school: Virginia
How do you replace Butkus Award-winning linebacker Jack Campbell? How about by going out and getting one of the most impactful players at the position available. Jackson recorded at least 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons and has 10.5 sacks in his career. He is an immediate starter for the Hawkeyes and should've been ranked higher than No. 130 overall; a plug-and-play guy with that kind of experience at the power conference level doesn't come around every day. The Hawkeyes found a gem that can anchor their defense this fall while the offense works on scoring more than 25 points per game.
Jalen Catalon, DB, Texas
Previous school: Arkansas
The best season of Catalon's career came during his redshirt freshman campaign in 2020 when he was named a Freshman All-American after recording 99 tackles and three interceptions. His career since has been defined by injuries, however. Catalon missed the final seven games of the 2021 season because of a shoulder injury and missed nearly the entire 2022 season due to shoulder surgery. The No. 128 player from the portal gets a fresh start with the Longhorns in their final Big 12 season and could make an immediate impact in the secondary for a College Football Playoff hopeful. If Catalon plays like he did during his redshirt freshman season, Texas will be in good hands in the secondary.
Davonte Brown, DB, Miami
Previous school: UCF
Brown elected to remain in state when he transferred from UCF to Miami. Now, he has the opportunity to start at cornerback opposite of his younger brother, Damari, who is a true freshman for the Hurricanes. Brown spent the last three seasons of his career with the Knights and started 31 games during his final two seasons. Despite being ranked the No. 95 overall player and the No. 18 player at his position in the portal, he could prove to be one of the most valuable additions for coach Mario Cristobal. The Hurricanes gave up far too many explosive pays last season, allowing 10 of 50 yards or more -- the most of any Division I program. Brown will be Miami's most experienced cornerback on the roster, and it will be up to him to help limit those explosive plays that haunted the Hurricanes defense in 2022.