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The 15 best players in college football's transfer portal - RIGHT NOW!

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

With the college football regular season complete, the fun has really just started.

That's right, people! It's TRANSFER PORTAL SEASON!

We here at Aaron Torres Media take the portal very seriously (some might say "too seriously") actually. That's why in addition to our regular content on the podcast and YouTube, we also run the college football transfers Twitter page. You can follow along here - and make sure to follow the live blog here.

Still, with the portal now open for a full 72 hours, we're starting to get a feel for all the big names who've entered and where they stack up - because of it, it's time for the first version of our "Best 15 players in the transfer portal RIGHT NOW."

We'll continue to update this throughout the winter, as everything moves fast (We've already had a few players who would be on this list) commit.

So, let's get to all the big names, and remember - this is a constantly updating page.

Also, one note: Until a player actually enters the portal they do not make this list. That is why you won't see Texas A&M's Fadil Diggs or Florida State's Patrick Payton (who would arguably be No. 1 and 2 on this list), who have both publicly indicated they're leaving - with nothing official yet.

1. Walter Nolen, DL, Texas A&M

While it had been speculated that Nolen would enter the portal as far back as Sunday, he didn't officially enter until Wednesday - but when he did, it sent shockwaves through college football.

You simply don't find players this good, with this much experience and talent, available at a premium position.

Nolen was the No. 2 overall ranked player in the 2022 high school class (behind only Travis Hunter) and top ranked player in the historic 2022 Texas A&M recruiting class. And once he got to campus, he did not disappoint, finishing this season with 8.5 TFL's and four sacks. He did it on a deep defensive line and playing through a late season injury suffered at Tennessee.

Add it up, and Nolen has "Top 10 in the NFL Draft type talent" which is why he has schools lining up to try and sign him.

An early report from 247 Sports' Steve Wiltfong indicates that home-state Tennessee (Nolen is from outside Knoxville), Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Oregon and LSU are early suitors.

2. Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma

Gabriel's listing at No. 2 on this list might feel a little bit controversial, given that he is only portaling because Oklahoma clearly plans to replace him with five-star Jackson Arnold next year.

So no, Gabriel isn't the perfect prospect - if he was, he'd be in the NFL already. But he is a guy who just led Oklahoma to a 10-win season, is the only QB to beat Texas this season, and it's hard to argue there's anyone in the portal with more big game experience than him.

After five years in college football (he redshirted after getting hurt early in 2021), Gabriel's stats are borderline insane, as he's thrown for over 14,000 yards and 125 touchdowns in his career. That included 30 TD scores this year, all while completing 69 percent of his passes as a Sooner.

In terms of his recruitment, the early leader appears to be Oregon - which he will visit later this week. USC and Mississippi State (where his former offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby is now the head coach) seem like they could be factors as well.

3. Riley Leonard, QB, Duke

It's a shame college football fans didn't get to see the real Leonard, for the entire 2023 season. Because when he's on, he's as dynamic and versatile as virtually any QB in the country.

Leonard was limited to just seven games in 2023 (which included a win over Clemson by the way) but in 2022, his full skill-set was on display, as he threw for 2,900 yards and 20 touchdowns, to go along with 700 rushing yards and 13 TD's on the ground as well in 2022.

After injuries slowed him this year, he smartly decided to come back to school to get more film out there for the NFL, and after Mike Elko left for Texas A&M, he decided to enter the portal.

The early indications are that Notre Dame will be his landing spot. He visits Wednesday and Thursday, meaning and he could be committed by the time you read this.

4. LT Overton, DL, Texas A&M

A second Texas A&M defensive lineman makes this list (and likely a third if/when Fadil Diggs officially enters the portal), as Overton announced on Tuesday he was out after two years.

Overton was actually regarded as one of the top players in the high school class of 2023, before deciding to reclassify and enroll at Texas A&M in 2022. His best season came as a true freshman where he had three TFL's and one sack, before tallying 17 total tackles before.

While the production isn't off the charts, the bottom line remains that there just aren't that many guys his size, who move like he does.

Overton is originally from Georgia, so the presumption is he'll transfer somewhere closer to home. He originally chose A&M over Georgia, Alabama and many of the other biggest schools in college football.

5. Will Rogers, QB, Mississippi State

Poor Rogers has had a near impossible last year, as he - and all of the Mississippi State football community - lost head coach Mike Leach right around a year ago. Then he returned to Starkville, only to see former head coach Zac Arnett completely change up the offense, before injuries plagued him throughout the season.

Because of it, it's hard to forget of just how productive this kid was, when he was in a system that fit his skill-set and abilities. Remember, his 12,315 career passing yards are second most in SEC history, and his 94 career passing touchdowns rank fourth as well. That included back-to-back 35 touchdown performances in 2021 and 2022, helping the Bulldogs to a 9-win season a year ago.

Rogers has officially been in the portal for a few days now, and it appears as though Washington has emerged as the favorite to land his services.

6. Antwane "Juice" Wells, WR, South Carolina

Another player who was beset by injuries this year, Wells was quite literally one of the most productive receivers in the SEC when healthy in 2022.

During his debut season at South Carolina (after transferring in from James Madison), Wells led the SEC in receiving yards with 928, making 68 catches, and averaging 13 yards per grab. Unfortunately, he was beset by injuries that limited him to just three games this season.

Now in the portal as a grad transfer, expect him to be as coveted as any skill position player available.

7. Cam Ward, QB, Washington State

After transferring in from the FCS level two years ago, Ward quickly established himself into one of the most prolific passers in all of college football the last two seasons.

In two years in Pullman he threw for 7,165 yards with 61 total touchdowns, including 25 touchdowns this past season. In the process, the Cougars finished sixth nationally in total offense.

Since entering the portal, Ward has been linked to pretty much all the major schools, with a lot of buzz seemingly centering around Ohio State.

8. Aidan Chiles, QB, Oregon State

One of the highest rated recruits to ever commit to Oregon State, Chiles was the quarterback of the future in Corvallis under Jonathan Smith. But when the Pac-12 fell apart and Smith opted to go to Michigan State, Chiles decided to enter the portal.

The former four-star QB from the Los Angeles area, Chiles played one season in Corvallis, throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns in limited snaps.

With Smith heading to East Lansing, there are reports that Chiles could follow him and be the focal point of Michigan State's rebuild.

9. Dante Moore, QB, UCLA

Another highly-coveted QB in the high school class of 2023, Moore - like Chiles - is on the move. In Moore's case, it was after one year at UCLA.

Unlike Chiles, Moore got plenty of reps, starting several games, completing 53 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. And while the returns weren't great (there's been conversation from Moore's side about how he was used in Chip Kelly's offense) everyone in college football seems ready to bet on the upside of Moore. He was ranked as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class after all, behind only Arch Manning.

A report from 247 Sports seems to indicate that an early four have emerged for Moore, a four which includes Florida State, Miami, Michigan and Oregon.

Remember, Moore is from Michigan originally. And was once committed to Oregon, before flipping to UCLA.

10. Chris "Pooh" Paul Jr., LB, Arkansas

There haven't been a lot of high-level defensive players who've hit the portal to this point (shout out to all the collectives working overtime to retain their guys) but Paul is one of them.

The former All-SEC Freshman Team member was one of Arkansas' most productive defensive players the last two years, tallying 62 tackles, eight TFL's and four sacks in 2022, and adding six TFL's and 2.5 sacks in 2023.

There are no known leaders for Paul's services at this time, although Ole Miss has emerged as a potential landing spot.

11. Kyle McCord, QB, Ohio State

If you listen to the Aaron Torres Pod at all, you know that I've become a bit of a Kyle McCord truther.

Do I think he's the perfect prospect? Far from it. Do I think he's as good as CJ Stroud or Justin Fields before him? Absolutely not. Do I think he got wayyyyy too much of the blame for Ohio State's loss to Michigan? I do.

And I think it's best for all parties that he move on.

In terms of what he brings, well, we've all seen him at this point. He isn't super-athletic, but did still throw for over 3,100 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.

McCord reportedly met with Nebraska earlier this week, and will receive interest from a number of other Power 5 type programs.

12. Will Sheppard, WR, Vanderbilt

It was a largely forgettable season at Vanderbilt, but Sheppard's play - not only this year, but for the last few - has been one of the Commodores' few bright spots.

Sheppard was again awesome this year, making 47 catches, 684 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers are actually a bit down from a year ago, when he had 60 catches for 776 yards and nine scores.

The bottom line is that Sheppard is elite, and frankly maybe too low on this list.

It will be interesting and fun to (hopefully) see him in a more dynamic offense come to 2024.

13. Samuel Okunlola, DE, Pitt

A redshirt freshman this year, Okunlola was a breakout star for an otherwise forgettable Pitt team. In his first full season on the field, the 6’4 rusher had five sacks, six TFL’s, and one forced fumble.

And if there was any doubt of just how coveted Okunlola is, well his early offer list tells the story. Among the schools to extend scholarship offers are Florida State, Washington and USC among many others.

It's also worth noting that Okunlola's younger brother Samson, just completed his freshman year at Miami.

14. Jake Johnson, TE, Texas A&M

Of all the former Texas A&M players now in the portal, Johnson was one of the least surprising - considering his older brother Max entered the portal as soon as the regular season ended.

But while Max is easily replaceable, Jake isn't.

The big tight end emerged as a big-time receiving threat this year, catching 24 balls, including four touchdowns, as one of the lone bright spots on the Aggies this season.

In terms of his future, it'll be interesting to see if Johnson follows his older brother (who committed to North Carolina) or tries to forge his own path somewhere else. He could play for much any program in college football.

15. Rocket Sanders, RB, Arkansas

Yet another player who was limited in 2023 because of injuries, just know that when healthy, Sanders was as good as any back in the SEC (or America, for that matter) in 2022.

Last season, Sanders rushed for 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns, earning All-SEC first team honors from the AP. In 2023 he was limited to just 62 carries and 209 yards, but saved his best for the Hogs biggest win of the season. That's right, he went over 100 yards in the Razorbacks' win over Florida in the Swamp.

Originally from the Miami-area, there's buzz that Sanders wants to be closer to home to be with family.

Other names to know

16. RJ Oben, DT, Duke

17. Chase Bistonis, OL, Texas A&M

18. Will Howard, QB, Kansas State

19. DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Oregon State

20. Justin Joly, TE, UConn

Players committed

Brock Vandagriff, QB, Georgia


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