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The five biggest early winners in college football's transfer portal

Credit: Deion Sanders (Instagram)

It's been just about one month since college football's transfer portal has opened, and with it, it feels like a good time to revisit the early winners so far.

Now to be clear, we're in the midst of a post-bowl game rush of new players entering the portal.

But with the first wave of players mostly committed, we decided to look at which schools have been the biggest winners so far.

Here are five.

LSU Tigers

Brian Kelly wasted no time digging into the transfer portal this year, trying to fortify the roster with instant impact transfers. They have seven transfers, but all of them are ready to take snaps now. Zy Alexander and Denver Harris are two defensive backs that will compete right away and could start in the defensive backfield. Harris specifically is a candidate to step in Day 1, as a former five-star recruit that was part of that historic 2022 Texas A&M recruiting class.

The Tigers also focused on the defensive line and added Jordan Jefferson, Jalen Lee, Paris Shand, and Bradyn Swinson to fortify their line instantly. Jefferson (no relation to the former LSU quarterback of the same name) seems like he could be the biggest standout there. They only added one big transfer on offense, and it was Aaron Anderson from Alabama. He’s a former four-star recruit from Louisiana who was once committed to the Tigers under Ed Orgeron prior to his firing.

Kelly has utilized the portal as well as anyone, and don’t expect it to slow down.

Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles finally broke through on the football field under Mike Norvell, winning 10 games this season. They then backed it up with a strong off-season in the portal.

They have eight transfers, but all of them could compete for starting spots this year. Jaheim Bell was the biggest get from the portal where he played tight end and even running back at South Carolina. Incredibly, he finished second on South Carolina in rushing as a tight end, while also grabbing 25 passes. The other impact offensive transfers are Keiondre Jones and Jeremiah Byers who will see time on the offensive line.

The defense also gained talent too. Darrell Jackson and Braden Fiske were added to help on the defensive line, while former All-ACC cornerback Fentrell Cypress from Virginia was a big get to help in the secondary.

Mike Norvell has Florida State primed for a big run next year and this transfer class is a good start for that.

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan had another successful season on the field, despite the disappointment of the loss to TCU in the College Football Playoff. Despite it, they still have had a productive season so far in the portal, adding several players who could start right away. They were another team that only got seven commits but expect most of them to have an impact.

On offense, they added Jack Tuttle to back up J.J. McCarthy at the quarterback position. They also added AJ Barner at tight end too. Drake Nugent (Stanford), Myles Hinton (Stanford), and LaDarius Henderson (Arizona State) were also all added to fortify the offensive line. Each is a former starter at their previous school

On defense, Josaiah Stewart will add an impact off the edge and then Ernest Hausmann should start at linebacker too. Jim Harbaugh went hard in the portal to add talent, and it should pay off, even if he decides to leave for the NFL. Expect Michigan to be back around playoff contention thanks to these additions.

Colorado Buffaloes

Deion Sanders came over from Jackson State and has a tall task in front of him rebuilding maybe the worst roster in Power 5 football. The good news of course is that he brought his "Louis" with him.

In total, Colorado has added a staggering 17 transfers. On offense, Shedeur Sanders comes over to be the new quarterback after throwing for 34 touchdowns and completing over 70 percent of his passes at Jackson State. He gets help with Jimmy Horn Jr., who was an All-AAC wide receiver at South Florida. Savion Washington, Landon Bebee, and Tyler Brown also come from different spots to help on the offensive line, while Seydou Traore was an All-Conference tight end at Arkansas State.

The defense got the biggest makeover thanks to the portal. Vonta Bentley and Jeremiah Brown come over to help a linebacking corps that was devoid of talent. Shane Cokes, Marshawn Kneeland, Taijh Alston, and Leonard Payne are all coming over to fortify a defensive line that needs as much help as it can get.

Finally, they added the best player available in the portal in Travis Hunter to the secondary and he’ll be joined by Cam’Ron Silmon and Tayvion Beasley too. Sanders has a huge task in front of him with how low Colorado has sunk, but he’s on the right track so far.

Kentucky Wildcats

Having them listed here may be surprising, but Mark Stoops has taken major steps to revamp Kentucky after a disappointing season. The first move was the re-hiring of former offensive coordinator Liam Coen, and since, they have added just six transfers, but all of them will have some sort of impact next year.

To their credit, the Wildcats signed the best quarterback in the portal, Devin Leary, a legit NFL Draft prospect who is coming off an injury-plagued final season at NC State. He threw for 35 touchdowns and 3,400 yards when healthy in 2021 however. Ray Davis also comes over from Vanderbilt to help immediately at the running back spot, after rushing for over 1,000 yards. The Wildcats also added Marques Cox and Tanner Bowles to bolster the offensive line.

On defense the Wildcats added former four-star JQ Hardaway at cornerback from Cincinnati and Jantzen Dunn of Ohio State at safety, where both should be able to help on defense right away. Kentucky has a chance to be much better this upcoming year and it starts with how well they’ve been doing with the transfer portal.

Other winners: USC, Oklahoma, Oregon, TCU, UCLA, Arizona State

Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter @Jake_Faigus

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