Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Glance at Big Ten East Transfers: Michigan State At It Again, Indiana Attacking The Portal

December 25, 2021

The transfer portal has changed the game of college football recruiting. Like every conference, the Big Ten has been impacted. The conference’s West Division saw solid additions from the portal, and you can see them right here.

As for the Big Ten’s East Division, a couple teams are really starting to do work in identifying talent and convincing it to come to their programs. Here’s a quick glance at all seven teams from the East and how they fared so far with the portal.

Tom Allen and Indiana attacked the portal, found two talented running backs

After a downright bad season on offense where they averaged just 17.3 points per game—that ranked 123rd in the nation—the Hoosiers went looking for help.

Indiana and head coach Tom Allen attacked the portal hard and, according to 247Sports, has a whopping seven incoming transfers that include two talented running backs from the SEC and ACC.

Running back Shaun Shivers transfers to Indiana after spending four seasons at Auburn where he rushed for a combined 1,020 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2021, Shivers turned into more of a receiving threat in the backfield with a career-high 22 catches for 163 yards and one score. The Hoosiers also bring in running back Josh Henderson, who played three seasons at North Carolina behind a couple current NFL running backs in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter and 1,000-yard rusher in Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler.

Henderson wasn’t the only former Tar Heel to head to Bloomington, as his teammate, receiver Emery Simmons, also tagged along. Simmons caught 30 passes for 516 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons as Chapel Hill.

But Indiana didn’t just dip its toes in the transfer portal for offensive help. The Hoosiers also got commitments from four defensive players according to 247Sports. Bradley Jennings Jr. comes to Indiana from Miami (Fla.) where he spent four seasons racking up 68 tackles and three sacks. Indiana’s defensive line added help in JH Tevis, a transfer from California who played three seasons for the Bears and recorded 59 tackles and three sacks.

The Hoosiers also snagged a couple transfer d-linemen from Ole Miss in Patrick Lucas and LeDarrius Cox. Those are big, strong additions as Lucas is 6-foot-3, 320 pounds while Cox is 6-4, 315.

Like Nebraska, Indiana has a quarterback situation it wants to figure out sooner rather than later. Michael Penix Jr., the Hoosiers’ longtime starter who’s been injured off and on for most of his career, transferred to Washington for his final season. Allen said that he’ll be looking for a transfer quarterback, but as of Saturday, he hasn’t gotten one.

Due to injuries, Indiana was forced to throw quarterback Donaven McCulley into the fire last season as a true freshman. It didn’t go that well, as the Indianapolis native completed just 42.68 % of his passes with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

Maryland loses five-star talent, but gains former Alabama linebacker

The Terrapins saw 11 players enter their names in the portal, including highly-rated linebackers in former five-star Terrence Lewis and four-star Branden Jennings. Lewis didn’t play as a true freshman due to a torn ACL while Jennings had 23 tackles and one forced fumble.

Maryland also lost a couple running backs in Peny Boone and Isaiah Jacobs. Boone, a massive back at 6-1, 245 pounds, rushed for 258 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons at Maryland while Jacobs, the younger brother of Oakland Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs, had 177 yards in two seasons. Boone has since landed at Toledo, which is closer to his hometown of Detroit.

Head coach Mike Locksley did reel in a transfer addition in linebacker VanDarius Cowan, a former four-star prospect who signed with Alabama out of high school before transferring to West Virginia, where he’s been for the past three seasons. In his career, Cowan, a 6-4, 242-pounder, has 40 tackles and four sacks.

Not much action at Michigan…yet

There hasn’t been much transfer action for the Wolverines, who won the Big Ten championship over Iowa and are preparing for a College Football Playoff semifinal against Georgia. According to 247Sports, there’s just been two players who have entered their names in the portal—offensive linemen Nolan Rumler, who has committed to Kent State, and Mahdi Hazime.

Michigan will be one to watch following the end of its season. Will both quarterbacks—Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy—still be on the roster in 2022? McCarthy, the dual-threat backup to McNamara, will most likely have plenty of opportunities to start elsewhere.

Michigan State reels in four instant-impact transfers 

Michigan State saw 13 players enter the portal, but it’s who head coach Mel Tucker is bringing in that will grab headlines.

After adding around 20 transfers last season, which wound up including a running back in Kenneth Walker III who was getting Heisman buzz, the Spartans are doing well with the portal additions yet again. They currently have commitments from four players who, on paper, look like instant-impact starters in edge defender Khris Bogle from Florida, linebackers Aaron Brule from Mississippi State and Jacoby Windmon from UNLV and running back Jalen Berger from Wisconsin.

Bogle, a 6-4, 242-pounder and former four-star prospect, spent three seasons with the Gators and had 66 tackles with eight sacks. He’ll be expected to bolster a pass rush that led the Big Ten in sacks in 2021 with 38. Brule, a former three-star, spent four seasons with Mississippi State and recorded 141 tackles and eight sacks.

The former three-star Windmon has turned himself into a good linebacker as he developed in the Mountain West Conference. In three seasons with the Rebels, the 6-2, 230-pounder had 169 tackles and 12 sacks. This past season was his breakout year that put his name on the radar of bigger programs as he had 118 tackles and 6.5 sacks while earning second-team all-conference honors.

With the emergence of running backs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi at Wisconsin, the former four-star Berger took to the portal looking for an opportunity to get carries elsewhere. He landed at East Lansing, where he hopes to have the same transfer success as Walker did.

Ohio State is losing quarterbacks, but Buckeyes shouldn’t shed tears 

The Buckeyes have had 10 players enter the portal, including former four-star prospects in defensive lineman Darrion Henry-Young, safety Amir Riep and offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby. Henry-Young and Riep are still looking for a new program while Jacoby has committed to Pitt.

The Buckeyes lost highly-touted five-star freshman quarterback and NIL darling, Quinn Ewers, who is looking for playing time right away. He may have found it at his next stop back home in Texas with Steve Sarkisian’s Longhorns. Ohio State likely won’t shed too many tears, however. It’s still sitting in great position at quarterback with Heisman candidate CJ Stroud returning, as well as high-profile backup Kyle McCord and four-star signal caller Devin Brown in the 2022 class.

That wasn’t the only attrition on the Buckeye-quarterback front as two backups moved on, including former four-star Jack Miller to Florida and Jagger LaRoe.

Penn State says goodbye to four-star backup quarterback…will there be more to come?

There isn’t a ton of action over at Happy Valley yet, as Penn State only has four players with their names in the transfer portal.

Maybe the most high-profile of the names is 5-11, 197-pound dual-threat backup quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson, a former four-star who completed 11 of his 28 passes this season for 85 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.

Like Michigan, keep an eye on the Nittany Lions’ roster following the Outback Bowl against Arkansas. There could be movement.

Rutgers losing a few contributors 

Head coach Greg Schiano’s Scarlet Knights program saw nine players enter the portal and it appears there hasn’t been any additions yet.

Veteran defensive lineman/linebacker CJ Onyechi is looking for a new home after spending the past four seasons in Piscataway where he had 87 tackles and five sacks. The next program to get the services of the 6-1, 250-pounder will get an instant-impact player near the line of scrimmage.

Naijee Jones is another veteran defender who is moving on from Rutgers. The 6-foot, 205-pound safety has 36 tackles and one interception in three seasons with the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers lost offensive lineman Brendan Bordner to the portal and his new program, Florida Atlantic. Bordner, a 6-5, 305-pounder, played in all 12 games in 2021 with a combined five starts at left and right tackle.

Backup quarterback Cole Snyder is transferring to Buffalo, where he’ll join a quarterback room that will be looking to replace starter Kyle Vantrease. Snyder could battle backup Matt Myers, who saw reps down the stretch in 2021 when Vantrease went down with a season-ending injury. Snyder played in nine games at Rutgers and completed 21 of 31 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown.

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