2024 CUSA Transfer Portal Rankings: Western Kentucky, Liberty, and UTEP Lead the Pack

    UTEP Miners on the move? Liberty Flames red hot? WKU top of the hill? The 2024 CUSA Transfer Portal Rankings assess the latest portal moves.

    The transfer portal giveth and the transfer portal taketh away. It’s usually more so the latter for programs coming off a coaching change, as was the case for three Conference USA programs after last season.

    The portal won’t open again until April, so most of the action has been paused. While we wait for the portal to bless us with its chaos again, let’s look at the CUSA Transfer Portal Rankings to assess how the 10 teams compare to each other.

    CUSA Transfer Portal Rankings

    10) Kennesaw State Owls

    Total Transfers: Two
    Top Offensive Transfer: Christian Moss, WR
    Top Defensive Transfer: Donovan Westmorland, LB

    The Owls will be in CUSA as a full member this season after being FBS independent in 2023. Portal pandemonium hasn’t hit nine-year head coach Brian Bohannon yet, as he only has two reported commits from the transfer portal. That will surely change after a few more seasons at the FBS level.

    Until then, Bohannon found solid value in getting two Power Five players to transfer in with South Carolina linebacker Donovan Westmorland and Virginia Tech receiver Christian Moss. Westmorland didn’t register any stats in nine games with the Gamecocks, while Moss caught six passes for 71 yards with the Hokies. 

    Kennesaw State’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Donovan Westmoreland, LB, South Carolina
    • Christian Moss, WR, Virginia Tech

    9) New Mexico State Aggies

    Total Transfers: Three
    Top Offensive Transfer: Deuce Hogan, QB
    Top Defensive Transfer: Avery Morris, LB

    Newly-minted coach Tony Sanchez is left picking up the pieces in Las Cruces after head coach Jerry Kill stepped down following consecutive winning seasons. 28 Aggies have reportedly entered the portal since the end of the season, most leaving for bigger programs.

    So far, Sanchez has only been able to yield three transfer commitments in return from the portal. He may have found a new starting quarterback in former Iowa and Kentucky backup Deuce Hogan. UTSA linebacker Avery Morris likely has just one season left, but he registered 48 tackles, three for a loss, with two sacks last season for the Roadrunners. 

    New Mexico State’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Deuce Hogan, QB, Kentucky
    • Josiah Cox, S, Arizona State
    • Avery Morris, LB, UTSA

    8) Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

    Total Transfers: Six
    Top Offensive Transfer: Gamarion Carter, WR
    Top Defensive Transfer: Brendon Harris, S

    When Rick Stockstill was fired from MTSU after 18 years as head coach, it prompted around 18 Blue Raiders to enter the portal, leaving the cupboard relatively bare for new coach Derek Mason. Most coaches in today’s college football climate look to the portal to infuse their team with experienced talent, but Mason’s recruiting efforts have focused mostly on high school prospects.

    MTSU signed 17 high school recruits and two junior college players during the first signing period. The portal hasn’t been completely ignored, with six transfer commitments. Wake Forest safety Brendon Harris played in 14 games over two seasons with the Demon Deacons, recording 21 tackles with one pick-six interception and one scoop-and-score fumble recovery. 

    Middle Tennessee’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Gamarion Carter, WR, Vanderbilt
    • Omari Kelly, WR, Auburn
    • Brian Brewton, RB, Connecticut
    • Felix Hixon, DL, South Carolina
    • Brendon Harris, S, Wake Forest
    • James Monds III, CB, Indiana

    7) Jacksonville State Gamecocks

    Total Transfers: Three
    Top Offensive Transfer: Zion Turner, QB
    Top Defensive Transfer: N/A

    The Gamecocks shocked the college football world with a nine-win effort in their first season at the FBS level. They even earned an early bowl invitation despite NCAA transition restrictions that prevent a program from post-season play the first two seasons after moving up. 

    Head coach Rich Rodriguez has built a winner in his two seasons but not so much through the portal, with only six transfers signed in 2023 and three committed this year.

    All three transfer commits for this class are on Rodriguez’s favorite side of the ball – offense – including Zion Turner, a potential replacement for a seven-year Gamecock signal-caller with a familiar first name, Zion Webb.

    Webb started eight games in his final season, and the player who started the other four, former Nebraska transfer Logan Smothers, has one year left. Not the most eventful portal program this cycle, but we got a quarterback competition out of it.

    • Zion Turner, QB, Connecticut
    • Brannon Spector, WR, Clemson 
    • Samario Rudolph, WR, UAB

    6) Florida International University Panthers

    Total Transfers: Five
    Top Offensive Transfer: Juju Lewis, WR
    Top Defensive Transfer: N/A

    Head coach Mike MacIntyre, 8-16 in two seasons with the Panthers, will see his starting quarterback return after true freshman Keyone Jenkins took over last season.

    Macintyre is losing more in the portal than he is getting back, like former starting quarterback Grayson James to Boston College and receiver Kris Mitchell to Notre Dame. However, he has five committed from the portal, including a nice weapon for Jenkins with Juju Lewis.

    Lewis didn’t register a catch in two seasons at Georgia Tech, but he is a former highly recruited high school prospect. He caught 77 passes for 1,260 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior year at Western High School in Florida, where he was named all-Broward County in one of the country’s most competitive high school football districts.

    Florida International’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Daniel Ogundipe, OL, UTSA
    • Nazeviah Burris, WR, Stetson
    • Juju Lewis, WR, Georgia Tech
    • Jaleel Davis, OL, North Carolina State
    • Ben Schellenback, OL, Tusculum

    5) Sam Houston Bearkats

    Total Transfers: Five
    Top Offensive Transfer: Jase Bauer, QB
    Top Defensive Transfer: Dylan Frazier, DL

    KC Keeler led the Bearkats to an FCS Championship in 2020 and has accumulated an 88-36 record in 10 seasons at the helm in Huntsville, but his first season in CUSA didn’t go as smoothly as he hoped with just three wins.

    MORE: Longest Tenured College Football Head Coaches

    While Keeler and the Bearkats adjust to their new environment, they will at least have some continuity with no players entering the transfer portal.

    They will also have some new faces with five players transferring in, including Central Michigan quarterback Jase Bauer. He made 10 starts for the Chippewas, passing for 2,316 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 13 picks. Bauer is likely a developmental project for Keeler, with incumbent starter Keegan Shoemaker returning for his senior season.

    Sam Houston State’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Jase Bauer, QB, Central Michigan 
    • Fernando Garza III, TE, Texas A&M
    • Austin Smith, TE, Memphis 
    • Dylan Frazier, DL, SMU
    • Jaylon Jimmerson, S, Liberty

    4) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

    Total Transfers: 12
    Top Offensive Transfer: Donerio Davenport, RB
    Top Defensive Transfer: Keenan Landry, DL

    After consecutive three-win seasons and last season’s starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier’s transfer to Wake Forest, head coach Sonny Cumbie is looking to revamp the Bulldogs before his third campaign in Ruston.

    While it appears the main focus for the Bulldogs has been among the high school and junior college ranks – 15 total signed in the early signing period – Cumbie has some relief in store via the portal with a decent haul of 13 committed transfers.

    Running back Donerio Davenport joins the Bulldogs after one season at Texas State, gaining 458 yards rushing (5.1 per carry) with five total touchdowns as the third-string running back. He’ll be expecting the bulk of the carries in Ruston this season. 

    Louisiana Tech’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Blake Thompson, S, Iowa State
    • Donerio Davenport, RB, Texas State
    • Mekhi Mason, LB, Syracuse
    • Cayden Hawkins, LB, Wyoming
    • Avery Huff, LB, FIU
    • Keenan Landry, DL, Florida
    • Sifa Leota, LB, UNT
    • Jordyn Morgan, S, UNLV
    • Ashanti Cole, OL, Grambling
    • Jeremiah Ballard, WR, UTEP
    • Zarian McGill, OL, ULM
    • Emmonte Davis, CB, Central Oklahoma
    • Jamarcus Jones, WR, UAB

    3) UTEP Miners

    Total Transfers: 16
    Top Offensive Transfer: Jevon Jackson, RB
    Top Defensive Transfer: Dylan Brown-Turner, LB

    When Dana Dimel was fired after going 20-49 in six seasons, former Austin Peay head coach Scotty Walden took over and was immediately hit with over 20 Miners announcing their intentions to transfer.

    Walden, back in CUSA after four seasons in the conference on staff at Southern Miss as receivers coach (2017-2018) and then co-O.C. (2019-2020), countered with 16 transfer commitments, including 10 that are following him from Austin Peay.

    MORE: Conference USA 2024 Football Schedule

    Walden’s leading rusher last season, Jevon Jackson (1,373 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns), is joining him, along with three of his top four receivers at Austin Peay – Trey Goodman (34 catches, 721 yards, seven touchdowns), Kam Thomas (50 catches, 629 yards, five touchdowns) and Kenny Odom (28 catches, 301 yards, three touchdowns).

    Still a long way to go in El Paso but the portal is seeming to help the Miners get there. 

    UTEP’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Skylar Locklear, QB, Austin Peay
    • Marquez Taylor, RB, Austin Peay
    • Jevon Jackson, RB, Austin Peay
    • Trey Goodman, WR, Austin Peay
    • Kenny Odom, WR, Austin Peay
    • Ashton Nickleberry, WR, Austin Peay
    • Kam Thomas, WR, Austin Peay
    • Brennan Smith, OL, Austin Peay
    • Isaiah Wright, OL, Austin Peay
    • Kory Chapman, CB, Austin Peay
    • Dylan Brown-Turner, LB, Florida State
    • Calvin Hill, RB, Texas State
    • Jaylon Shelton, DB, Texas State
    • Tray Dunson, LB, Fresno State
    • Dorion Hopkins, LB, Tulsa
    • Jaden Smith, WR, EKU

    2) Liberty Flames

    Total Transfers: Nine
    Top Offensive Transfer: Brian Burger, QB
    Top Defensive Transfer: Aidan Vaughan, LB

    Jamey Chadwell proved that Liberty’s $4 million a year investment in him was worthy after leading the Flames to a NY6 bowl his first season in Lynchburg. He secured his biggest transfer portal win last month by convincing starting quarterback Kaidon Salter to hop out of the portal and return to Liberty.

    Chadwell has nine new transfers committed to join Salter, including another quarterback to develop under him with Brian Burger. Salter also has a couple of weapons joining him, with receivers Donte Lee and Tyson Mobley.

    Wisconsin transfer linebacker Aidan Vaughan didn’t register any stats in two seasons with the Badgers. Still, he was a sought-after recruit out of Walled Lake Western High School in Michigan, playing linebacker, safety, receiver, and running back.

    Liberty’s Portal Class, 2024

    • Brian Burger, QB, App State
    • Donte Lee, WR, Shaw
    • Tyson Mobley, WR, Coastal
    • Aidan Vaughan, LB, Wisconsin 
    • Dominick Hill, CB, Temple
    • Taylor Jackson, LB, ECU
    • Elijah Hall, DL, Wake Forrest
    • Alex Oliver, CB, Virginia Military Institute
    • Jahmar Brown, S, Coastal Carolina

    1) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

    Total Transfers: Nine
    Top Offensive Transfer: T.J. Finley, QB
    Top Defensive Transfer: Kent Robinson, CB

    Tyson Helton has led the Hilltoppers to four winning campaigns in his five seasons in charge, and he has done so primarily by finding great value at quarterback in the transfer portal.

    MORE: Top 10 Highest-Paid College Football Head Coaches 

    Current New England Patriots quarterback Baily Zappe transferred to WKU from Houston Baptist (now Houston Christian) to play the 2021 season with great success – 5,967 yards passing, 62 touchdowns and a 9-5 record.

    Austin Reed followed Zappe, transferring from West Florida to throw for 4,744 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2022 and 3,340 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.

    Now, with Reed graduated, Helton is looking for his next diamond in the rough, and he might have struck rich again with former LSU, Auburn, and Texas State quarterback T.J. Finley among nine transfers for WKU. His addition helps the Hilltoppers secure the number one spot on our CUSA Transfer Portal Rankings.

    Finley started a handful games at two different SEC programs before starting all 13 games for the Bobcats last season, setting a single-season program record for passing yards (3,439) his one season in San Marcos.

    Western Kentucky’s Portal Class, 2024

    • T.J. Finley, QB, Texas State
    • Ta’ron Keith, RB, Bowling Green
    • Kisean Johnson, WR, Angelo State
    • C.J. Kiss, TE, Notre Dame College (Ohio)
    • Stacey Wilkins, OL, ULM
    • Kent Robinson, CB, Texas A&M
    • Jalil Rivera-Harvey, DL, Marshall
    • Chandler Matthews, LB, Limestone College
    • Gabriel Iniguez, DL, New Mexico State

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

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