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SEC Football: Ranking the Transfer Classes for 2023

Athlon Sports 1/30/2023 Steven Lassan
© Provided by Athlon Sports

A complete breakdown and ranking of SEC transfer portal classes for the 2023 college football season.

College football's transfer portal and immediate eligibility rules have shaped how rosters are constructed more than ever every offseason. For the most part, all 133 teams use the portal in some way to add to the roster or reload or build at a position of need. All of those factors certainly hold true in the SEC this year, as LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn rank among the nation's best transfer hauls. For LSU, coach Brian Kelly's work in the portal should have the Tigers in contention for the CFB Playoff. The Rebels should be a Top 25 team again thanks to coach Lane Kiffin's talent acquisition, while the portal gives new coach Hugh Freeze a chance to guide Auburn to immediate improvement in '23. Georgia is only bringing in three transfers, but all three players could be high-impact performers for the two-time champs.

How do the transfer classes for the 2023 college football season rank in the SEC? Athlon Sports has ranked all 14 SEC teams by the biggest impact of its transfers for this upcoming year:

SEC Football: Ranking the Transfer Classes for 2023

1. LSU

Key Additions: WR Aaron Anderson (from Alabama), DL Jordan Jefferson (from West Virginia), LB Omar Speights (from Oregon State), CB Denver Harris (from Texas A&M), DB Duce Chestnut (from Syracuse)

Key Losses: WR Jack Bech (TCU), OL Cameron Wire (Tulane), LB DeMario Tolan (Auburn), S/RB Derrick Davis (Pitt)

LSU hit the portal hard for the second year in a row under coach Brian Kelly and reeled in arguably one of the top classes in the nation. Anderson will alleviate the loss of Kayshon Boutte to the NFL, while Speights could be one of the top linebackers in the SEC after earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in '22. Harris and Chestnut should be impact additions in the secondary.

Related: College Football's Very Early Top 25 for 2023

2. Ole Miss

Key Additions: 

QB Walker Howard (from LSU), QB Spencer Sanders (from Oklahoma State), WR Tre Harris (from Louisiana Tech), WR Chris Marshall (from Texas A&M), TE Caden Prieskorn (from Memphis), LB Monty Montgomery (from Ole Miss), DB Zamari Walton (from Georgia Tech)

Key Losses: QB Luke Altmyer (Illinois), LB Austin Keys (Auburn), DB Tysheem Johnson (Oregon), DB Davison Igbinosun (TBD), DB Miles Battle (Utah)

Lane Kiffin - the portal king - is at it again with another standout class of transfers. The addition of Walker Howard and Spencer Sanders will compete with Jaxson Dart for the starting quarterback job, while Marshall and Harris are needed additions to replenish a thin receiving corps. Montgomery and Walton should be starters on defense.

3. Auburn

Key Additions:

 RB Brian Battie (from USF), TE Rivaldo Fairweather (from FIU), OL Dillon Wade (from Tulsa), OL Avery Jones (from East Carolina), OL Gunner Britton (from Western Kentucky), DL Justin Rogers (from Kentucky), DL Lawrence Johnson (from Purdue), DL Elijah McAllister (from Vanderbilt), LB DeMario Tolan (from LSU), LB Austin Keys (from Ole Miss)

Key Losses: OL Keiondre Jones (Florida State)

This haul of transfers boosts Auburn's chances of making marked improvement under new coach Hugh Freeze. Landing three Day 1 starters on the offensive line was crucial with the entire group in transition. Battie and Fairweather add to a thin group of playmakers, with Battie capable of sharing carries with Jarquez Hunter. Depth is crucial to any defense in the SEC, and even if Rogers, Johnson, Keys and Tolan don't start, Auburn just needed more talent on this side of the ball. These additions accomplish that, plus add starter-capable players in the front.

Related: Team-by-Team Additions from College Football Transfers

4. Arkansas

Key Additions: 

QB Jacolby Criswell (from North Carolina), WR Andrew Armstrong (from Texas A&M-Commerce), WR Tyrone Broden (from Bowling Green), WR Isaac TeSlaa (from Hillsdale College), OL Josh Braun (from Florida), DL John Morgan (from Pitt), DL Trajan Jeffcoat (from Missouri), LB Antonio Grier (from USF), DB Al Walcott (from Baylor), DB Lorando Johnson (from Baylor)

Key Losses: QB Malik Hornsby (Texas State), WR Ketron Jackson (Baylor), TE Trey Knox (South Carolina), DL Jordan Domineck (Colorado), DL Isaiah Nichols (Purdue), S Myles Slusher (Colorado), DB Simeon Blair (Memphis), DB Jalen Catalon (Texas)

The Razorbacks lost a decent chunk of talent through the portal but also added several capable starters. Armstrong, Broden and TeSlaa are crucial to restock a receiving corps losing its top four options from last year. Defense was a major issue in 2022 and help is needed at all three levels. Morgan, Grier and Walcott could rank among the SEC's most impactful defensive transfers for '23.

Related: Projecting the Starting Quarterback for All 133 College Football Teams

5. Kentucky

Key Additions: 

QB Devin Leary (from NC State), RB Ray Davis (from Vanderbilt), OL Marques Cox (from Northern Illinois), DL Keeshawn Silver (from North Carolina), CB JQ Hardaway (from Cincinnati)

Key Losses: RB Kavosiey Smoke (Colorado), OL Kiyaunta Goodwin (Florida), DL Justin Rogers (Auburn), DB Kobi Albert (Mississippi State)

Landing Leary was huge with quarterback Will Levis off to the NFL Draft. Davis ran for more than 1,000 yards at Vanderbilt in '22 and immediately fills the void left behind by Christopher Rodriguez's departure to the next level. The Wildcats desperately needed help up front, and the additions of Cox and Tanner Bowles (Alabama) add more competition up front. Silver and Hardaway should both contribute significant snaps this fall.

6. GeorgiaKey Additions: WR Dominic Lovett (from Missouri), WR RaRa Thomas (from Mississippi State), DB Smoke Bouie (from Texas A&M)

Key Losses: WR AD Mitchell (Texas), WR Dominick Blaylock (TBD), TE Arik Gilbert (Nebraska), OL Jacob Hood (Nebraska), DL Bill Norton (Arizona), LB Trezmen Marshall (Alabama), LB MJ Sherman (Nebraska), CB Jaheim Singletary (TBD)

Quality, not quantity. That's what Georgia's portal class is all about. Lovett - a second-team All-SEC selection - and Thomas (44 catches for 626 yards and seven touchdowns) solidify a receiving corps losing AD Mitchell and needed more big-play ability. Bouie ranked as one of the top defensive backs in the '22 signing class and will push for snaps right away.

Related: Early SEC Predictions for 2023

7. Tennessee

Key Additions: 

WR Dont'e Thornton (from Oregon), OL John Campbell (from Miami), DL Omarr Norman-Lott (from Arizona State), LB Keenan Pili (from BYU), DB Gabe Jeudy-Lally (from BYU)

Key Losses: QB Tayven Jackson (Indiana), RB Justin Williams-Thomas (California), WR Walker Merrill (Wake Forest), WR Jimmy Calloway (Louisville), DL Jordan Phillips (Maryland), LB Juwan Mitchell (TBD)

Thornton is the biggest addition for coach Josh Heupel. With Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman off the NFL, the Volunteers are looking to reload at receiver around Bru McCoy and Squirrel White. Campbell made 17 starts at Miami and seems likely to push for snaps at either right or left tackle. Pili, Norman-Lott and Jeudy-Lally should all crack the defensive two-deep this offseason. Jeudy-Lally started his career at Vanderbilt and is back in the SEC after starting 10 games at cornerback for BYU in '22.

8. FloridaKey Additions: QB Graham Mertz (from Wisconsin), RB Cameron Carroll (from Tulane), OL Kiyaunta Goodwin (from Kentucky), OL Micah Mazzccua (from Baylor), OL Damieon George (from Alabama), DL Caleb Banks (from Louisville), DL Cam'Ron Jackson (from Memphis), LB Teradja Mitchell (from Ohio State), LB Deuce Spurlock (from Michigan), LB Mannie Nunnery (from Houston)

Key Losses: WR Daejon Reynolds (Pitt), OL Josh Braun (Arkansas), OL Ethan White (USC), OL Michael Tarquin (USC), DL Jalen Lee (LSU), DB Tre'Vez Jonson (Missouri), DB Jordan Young (Cincinnati), CB Corey Collier (Nebraska), CB Avery Helm (TCU)

Mertz was an essential get from the portal given Florida's inexperience at the quarterback position. The Gators also added three potential starters up front from the portal, including Goodwin who ranked as a four-star prospect coming out of high school. Five transfers on defense add depth to a unit that surrendered 28.8 points a game last season.

Related: College Football's Biggest Winners in the Transfer Portal

9. MissouriKey Additions: QB Jake Garcia (from Miami), WR Theo Wease (from Oklahoma), WR Dannis Jackson (from Ole Miss), OL Marcellus Johnson (from Eastern Michigan), DL Joe Moore from Arizona State), DB Tre'Vez Johnson (from Florida)

Key Losses: RB Elijah Young (WKU), WR Dominic Lovett (Georgia), OL Hyrin White (SMU), DL Trajan Jeffcoat (Arkansas), 

Wease (19 catches for 378 yards in '22) was a big get to replace Dominic Lovett on the outside. With Brady Cook out in the spring due to shoulder surgery, and backup Sam Horn having little experience, Garcia was a crucial add to give Missouri QB depth and another arm to push for the starting job. Johnson should compete for a starting job on an offensive line that struggled in '22. 

10. Mississippi State

Key Additions:

QB Mike Wright (Vanderbilt), WR Freddie Roberson (Eastern Washington), CB Raydarious Jones (LSU), DB Khamauri Rogers (Miami), DB Christopher Keys (Indiana), DB Kobi Albert (Kentucky)

Key Losses: QB Sawyer Robertson (Baylor), RB Dillon Johnson (Washington), WR RaRa Thomas (Georgia), DL Jevon Banks (Kansas State)

Adding depth and potential starters to a secondary losing a couple of key cogs, including standout cornerback Emmanuel Forbes was a must for new coach Zach Arnett. With four players on the way to Starkville, some concerns about the pass defense for '23 should be eased. Roberson starred at Eastern Washington (141 career catches) and will help replace the loss of RaRa Thomas to Georgia. The Bulldogs also added a starting kicker and punter through the portal.

Related: College Football Players in the Transfer Portal

11. South Carolina

Key Additions:

RB Mario Anderson (Newberry), WR Eddie Lewis (Memphis), TE Trey Knox (Arkansas), LB Jaron Willis (from Ole Miss)

Key Losses: RB MarShawn Lloyd (USC), TE Jaheim Bell (Florida State), TE Austin Stogner (Oklahoma), DL Jordan Burch (Oregon), DL Gilber Edmond (Florida State)

This year's portal class doesn't have the big-time names like Spencer Rattler or Juice Wells that the '21 haul produced, but coach Shane Beamer landed a couple of impact players. Lewis (42 catches at Memphis in '22) will help alleviate some of the pressure on Wells on the outside. Anderson is an intriguing transfer from Division II Newberry. Trey Knox should fill the void at tight end created when Jaheim Bell and Austin Stogner both transferred this offseason.

12. Texas A&M

Key Additions:

WR Tyrin Smith (UTEP), CB Tony Grimes (North Carolina), S Sam McCall (Florida State)

Key Losses: QB Haynes King (Georgia Tech), RB LJ Johnson (SMU), WR Chris Marshall (Ole Miss), OL PJ Williams (SMU), DL Anthony Lucas (USC), DL Elijah Jeudy (Nebraska, DL Tunmise Adeleye (Michigan State), LB Andre White (Georgia Tech), DB Marquis Groves-Killebrew (Louisville), DB Smoke Bouie (Georgia), CB Denver Harris (LSU)

This article is all about the gains, but it's hard to ignore Texas A&M's losses in the portal. Smith - a 5-foot-7 speedster - will help the Aggies stretch the field. Grimes and McCall are crucial just to add depth and competition to a secondary that lost several players to the portal. 

Related: Every SEC's Team's Biggest Impact Transfer for 2023

13. Alabama

Key Additions:

TE CJ Dippre (Maryland), LB Trezmen Marshall (Georgia)

Key Losses: RB Trey Sanders (TCU), WR Aaron Anderson (LSU), WR Christian Leary (Georgia Tech), WR Traeshon Holden (Oregon), WR JoJo Earle (TCU), OL Tommy Brockermeyer (TCU), OL Damieon George (Florida), OL Javion Cohen (Miami), DB Khyree Jackson (Oregon)

Alabama had one of the nation's best transfer hauls last season, but coach Nick Saban has been relatively quiet in the portal. Dippre (30 catches in '22) will immediately fill the void left by Cameron Latu. Marshall could start at inside linebacker to replace Henry To'o To'o.

14. VanderbiltKey Additions: DL Aeneas DiCosmo (from Stanford), DL Jacob Katona (from Stanford), LB Carson Casteel (from Michigan State)

Key Losses: QB Mike Wright (Mississippi State), RB Ray Davis (Kentucky), DL Elijah McAllister (Auburn)

DiCosmo, Katona and Casteel will help a defense that surrendered 36 points a game last year. Davis (1,042 yards in 2022) was one of Vanderbilt's top playmakers and will be missed. No other running back ran for more than 151 yards for this offense in '22.

Podcast: Debating the Way-Too-Early Preseason College Football Top 25 for 2023

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