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College Football Transfer Portal 2023: Top RBs Include LJ Johnson

The college football transfer portal has completely changed the landscape of the sport. The 2022 College Football Bowl Season may be just around the corner, but plenty of players across the country are already in search of a new school and team for next year. Several talented running backs are among the players that have already entered the college football transfer portal. Regardless of how one feels about the portal itself, there’s no denying that it has added a new layer of drama to the sport’s offseason.

What is the College Football Transfer Portal?

Launched in the Fall of 2018, the college football transfer portal is an online database designed to manage and facilitate the process of student-athletes transferring between member institutions. Those athletes who desire to transfer to a college football program can place their names in the portal. Once this is done, coaches from other NCAA institutions can contact the players regarding their desire to transfer. This contact can include scheduling campus visits and offering scholarships.

Although it has been around for a handful of years now, the stature of the college football transfer portal increased dramatically last year. In the spring of 2021, the NCAA Division I Council approved a rule change that allows student-athletes to transfer and be eligible to play immediately. Prior to this decision, transfer athletes were required to sit out a year before being eligible to play for their new school.

With the rule change, college football essentially now has its own version of the free agency signing period that takes place in the NFL and other professional sports leagues. Although entering the college football transfer portal does not guarantee that a student-athlete will in fact transfer, roughly 30% of the more than 3,000 players to enter during last year’s cycle found new homes.

This year marks the first time in which specific dates have been implemented by the NCAA for student-athletes to express their desire to transfer. The 2022-23 college football transfer portal cycle for FBS players officially began on December 5th and will last through January 19th. A second window to enter the portal will take place in the spring, lasting from May 1-15.

LJ Johnson college football transfer portal 2023 top RBs what is the college football transfer portal
Credit: Maria Lysaker – USA TODAY Sports

Top RBs Who Have Entered the College Football Transfer Portal 2023

After the first official day of the college football transfer portal cycle, more than 1,000 student-athletes had officially entered their names. Plenty of highly-touted running backs are among the group of players in search of a new home for the 2023 season.

The following identifies seven of the top RBs in the college football transfer portal whose future landing spots will be worth noting.

LJ Johnson Transfer From Texas A&M

Age: N/A
Class: Redshirt Freshman
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 4

Ranked as a top-5 running back in the 2021 recruiting class, LJ Johnson failed to make much of an impact in his two seasons with Texas A&M. After redshirting in 2021, Johnson missed the majority of spring ball this past year with a hamstring injury. As such, he spent the 2022 campaign buried on the Aggies’ depth chart. If the recruiting offers he received out of high school are any indication, Johnson will most certainly land on his feet at another prominent program.

Ray Davis Transfer From Vanderbilt

Age: N/A
Class: Senior
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 2

After finishing fourth in the SEC with 1,042 rushing yards this past season, Ray Davis will be one of the most highly sought-after RBs in the college football transfer portal. Davis is set to graduate from Vanderbilt in December and thus will classify as a graduate transfer. However, thanks to the COVID year, he still has two full years of eligibility remaining. This isn’t Davis’ first foray into the transfer portal either. He joined the Commodores in 2021 after starting his collegiate career at Temple.

Dominic Richardson Transfer From Oklahoma State

Age: 21
Class: Fifth-Year Senior
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 2

Much like senior quarterback Spencer Sanders, running back Dominic Richardson is also set to leave Oklahoma State via the transfer portal. Although he may not be the most physically imposing RB, Richardson can certainly contribute to a Power 5 backfield. He overcame nagging injuries to tally 543 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this past season. Thanks to the COVID year, Richardson will have up to two years of eligibility at his new school.

Trey Sanders Transfer From Alabama

Age: 23
Class: Senior
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 2

A 5-star recruit out of high school, Trey Sanders was used sparingly during his time at Alabama. After garnering 72 carries in 2021, he took a back seat to incoming transfer, Jahmyr Gibbs, this past season. However, he has averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry in each of the last three years. Sanders has two years of eligibility remaining and is reportedly interested in playing for new Colorado coach, Deion Sanders.

Carson Steele what is the college football transfer portal 2023 RBs
Credit: Ball State University Athletics

Carson Steele Transfer From Ball State

Age: 20
Class: Third-Year Sophomore
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 2

Carson Steele will hope to capitalize on a phenomenal 2022 campaign in the college football transfer portal. Steele is hard to miss on the field thanks to his flowing mane of hair. He also stood out in the box score for Ball State on numerous occasions this past season. Steele led the MAC in rushing yards with 1,556 on his way to earning First Team All-League honors. That yardage total also ranked sixth in the entire FBS overall. Steele will have two years of eligibility remaining at his next stop.

Marquez Cooper Transfer From Kent State

Age: 21
Class: Senior
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 2

Another RB from the MAC who is bound to draw plenty of interest in the transfer portal is Marquez Cooper. He was the only one to finish in the same zip code as Steele in terms of rushing yardage this past season. As the focal point of Kent State’s offense in league play, Cooper piled up 1,331 yards and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. He earned All-MAC honors in each of the last two seasons and will bring two years of eligibility to his new school.

Sean Dollars Transfer From Oregon

Age: 20
Class: Sophomore
Years of Eligibility Remaining: 2

After failing to find a new home via the college football transfer portal last year, Sean Dollars is back to try again for the 2023 season. His playing time has been limited during his first three collegiate seasons at Oregon, but Dollars possesses tremendous upside as a pass-catching RB. The California native had his 2021 campaign wiped out entirely due to injury. This past season, Dollars was limited to just 50 total touches as the new Oregon coaching staff prioritized other backfield options.

Other Notable RBs in College Football Transfer Portal 2023

  • Kobe Pace (Clemson)
  • Kavosiey Smoke (Kentucky)
  • Jaylan Knighton (Miami)
  • Dillon Johnson (Mississippi State)
  • Sean Tyler (Western Michigan)

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