College Football’s Best Transfers of All Time: Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton Top the List

    From OJ Simpson to Baker Mayfield making the move from Texas Tech to Oklahoma, who are the best college football transfers of all time?

    While the transfer portal is a relatively recent invention in college football, players have transferred schools since the beginning of the sport for various reasons. College Football Network has compiled a list of the 10 best transfers of all time.

    College Football’s Best Transfers

    Players transfer for a myriad of different reasons and have for a long time. While statistically more players are transferring today than in past eras of college football, teams often sought impact transfers even in the mid-1900s.

    MORE: College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    This list is meant to take a more holistic approach, factoring the entire career arc of each player, from original enrollment to NFL Draft, and all the transfers in between, if applicable. They’re also weighted towards impact, so yes, there will be several quarterbacks on this list. Here’s the top 10.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Bo Nix: Auburn to Oregon,
    • Michael Penix Jr.: Indiana to Washington,
    • Russell Wilson: NC State to Wisconsin

    10) Scott Frost: Stanford to Nebraska

    Though his career stats aren’t as impressive as some of the other guys on this list, Frost gets the nod at No. 10 due to his impact. He started at Stanford, where the Cardinal won just 10 games in his first two seasons, and he attempted just 86 passes. But, he transferred to Nebraska, where he led the Cornhuskers to a National Title in 1997.

    9) Jordan Addison: Pittsburgh to USC

    Addison didn’t leave the Pittsburgh Panthers under the best of circumstances, at least according to some fans, but he’s one of the few transfers on this list to transfer as a high-profile player and continue that play at his new school.

    Addison had 2,259 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in two years at Pittsburgh with Kenny Pickett, adding nearly 900 more yards and eight touchdowns for the USC Trojans.

    8) Caleb Williams: Oklahoma to USC

    Williams took over for Spencer Rattler, a guy who just missed this list, in 2021 before following Lincoln Riley to Southern California. He won the Heisman in 2022, his first year at USC, becoming just the second transfer quarterback to do so in his first year at a new school.

    Williams has a chance to be the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

    7) Kyler Murray: Texas A&M to Oklahoma

    As a freshman with the Texas A&M Aggies, Kyler Murray completed just 59.5% of his passes while throwing seven interceptions to five touchdowns.

    Transferring to the Oklahoma Sooners, he saw game action in 2017 behind Baker Mayfield but didn’t take over as the starter until 2018, when he threw for 4,300 yards, ran for another 1,000 yards, and had 54 total touchdowns.

    6) Jayden Daniels: Arizona State to LSU

    Daniels is the lone five-year starter on this list. The most recent Heisman winner had a pedestrian career for the Arizona State Sun Devils before transferring to the LSU Tigers and putting up incredible numbers.

    Daniels tallied 124 touchdowns and nearly 13,000 passing yards in his career, adding another 3,300 yards on the ground.

    5) OJ Simpson: San Francisco City College to USC

    Simpson is one of the greatest running backs of all time but didn’t have the grades to go straight to the Division 1 level. Instead, he went to San Francisco City College and played both ways as a running back and defensive back.

    At USC, Simpson ran for 3,124 yards and 33 touchdowns in two seasons, finishing as the Heisman runner-up in 1967 and scooping the accolade in 1968. He was the first overall pick in the 1969 draft.

    4) Randy Moss: Notre Dame to Florida State to Marshall

    Moss had a rocky path to the Marshall Thundering Herd after being deemed academically ineligible for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and being kicked off the Florida State Seminoles. Once he landed at Marshall, though, he had the greatest 1-AA receiving season of all time, followed by the greatest-ever FBS receiving season.

    Moss compiled 174 receptions, 3,529 yards, and 54 touchdowns in just two seasons, helping Marshall to a 25-3 record across the 1996 and 1997 seasons. He was drafted in the first round and recently inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    3) Joe Burrow: Ohio State to LSU

    Burrow’s story of development is unmatched in the history of college football. He attempted 39 passes in three years with the Ohio State Buckeyes before transferring to LSU in 2018 and having a decent, if not spectacular, year.

    Then 2019 came, and Burrow threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns while waltzing to a National Championship and Heisman Trophy. Like the next guy on this list, he parlayed that into the top overall pick in the draft and a Pro Bowl career.

    2) Cam Newton: Florida to Blinn Junior College to Auburn

    Putting Newton over Burrow is a matter of personal preference and relative talent around them. While Burrow threw to the likes of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase in college, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield, the rest of Newton’s offense saw action in a combined 28 NFL games.

    In my opinion, Newton’s 2010 season is the greatest in college football history. That alone, plus his status as a No. 1 draft pick, is enough to put him in the second spot on this list.

    1) Baker Mayfield: Texas Tech to Oklahoma

    Of all the All-Americans and Heisman winners on our list, no player had the full career that Mayfield had. He started eight games as a freshman at Texas Tech, throwing for over 2.300 yards. He then transferred to Oklahoma, where he threw for 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns in three seasons, winning the Heisman in 2017.

    MORE: Baker Mayfield College Stats

    Unlike Burrow and Newton, Mayfield had multiple years of high-level production, ending his career as the 7th-leading passer in NCAA history. The Heisman and No. 1 draft pick status are just icing on the cake for college football’s best transfer of all time.

    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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