On June 3, the SEC announced that players transferring from one SEC school to another will no longer have to sit out a season eliminating the league’s intraconference transfer rule. That means the one-time free transfer rule is free reign among the 14 members in the Southeastern Conference.
Due to this, we have seen plenty of movement throughout the league in the transfer portal. KSR has dug into the portal transactions and found the top 10 SEC intraconference transfers from this offseason.
1. Henry To’o To’o (LB, Tennessee to Alabama)
Perhaps the biggest star in this year’s transfer portal cycle, To’o To’o picked the Crimson Tide over Ohio State on May 8 and now will be immediately eligible in Tuscaloosa for his junior season. The former top-50 recruit from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle started 22 games at Tennessee recording 140 tackles (74 solo) and 12.5 tackles for loss. Joining Christian Harris, Alabama could have the best off-ball linebacker group in college football.
2. Arik Gilbert (WR/TE, LSU to
This one was very interesting. The highest-ranked tight end recruit in the internet era went to LSU and played in eight games for the Bayou Bengals recording 35 receptions for 368 yards. However, the Metro Atlanta native left the team and school before the season ended while entering the transfer portal. On Jan. 31, Gilbert committed to Florida only to back away from that pledge a month later. Now he is headed to Athens.
To replace George Pickens, Georgia and offensive coordinator Todd Monken plan to use Gilbert at X receiver instead of tight end where five-star Darnell Washington seems poised for a huge year. However, there could be some eligibility concerns with Gilbert.
3. Jahmir Johnson (T, Tennessee to Texas A&M)
Jimbo Fisher decided to bring in just one player from the portal to College Station this offseason, but it was one at a position of need. Johnson was one of 34 players from Rocky Top to enter the portal in the last 10 months, and now he’ll move over to the SEC West. The offensive tackle lands at A&M where the Aggies must replace four starters on the offensive line.
Johnson started 17 games for the Vols and will be playing opposite of All-American Kenyon Green who is sliding out to left tackle.
4. TJ Finley (QB, LSU to Auburn)
The only quarterback to intraconference transfer this offseason, Finley started five games for Ed Orgeron’s squad last year going 2-3 with 941 passing yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 242-pound pocket quarterback was a high three-star in the class of 2020 out of Ponchatoula, La.
Bo Nix is back on the Plains for his third year as the starter for Auburn but the numbers are not great — 43.30% passing success rate, 6.76 yards per attempt last season. New head coach Bryan Harsin inherited a quarterback depth issue and has added Finley to solve the problem. Nix is still QB1, but Finley is there if the veteran doesn’t deliver in offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s traditional pro-style offense.
5. Daquan Newkirk (iDL, Auburn to Florida)
After losing Tedarrell Slaton to the NFL, the Gators and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham needed big bodies at nose. Florida went into the transfer portal and added Newkirk to go along with Penn State transfer Antonio Shelton to fill the hole. Newkirk has played in 30 games and will give the Gators a reliable presence on the defensive interior.
6. Jacquez Jones (LB, Ole Miss to Kentucky)
Jones started games all three years at Ole Miss on his way to recording 182 career tackles. However, the addition of Maryland transfer Chance Campbell to go along with the return of super senior Lakia Henry created a crowded position for D.J. Durkin’s defense. Jones entered the portal and was quickly scooped up by Kentucky.
Due to the early departure of Jamin Davis combined with the spring football injury of D’Eryk Jackson, Kentucky all of a sudden had a major hole at Mike linebacker. Jones steps in to fill the void as he reunites with former position coach Jon Sumrall.
7. Major Burns (S, Georgia to LSU)
Burns was a top-200 recruit out of Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep Academy in the class of 2020 that Kirby Smart and Georgia stole out of LSU’s backyard. After playing six games as a true freshman in Athens, Burns entered the portal and quickly landed at LSU.
The blue-chipper enters a young secondary room that was thrown to the wolves last season. However, this talented group is a year older and will make up one of the best defensive back groups in college football this season with Burns adding depth to DBU.
8. Markell Utsey (iDL, Missouri to Arkansas)
Utsey committed to Barry Odom and Missouri out of Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview in the class of 2016 and spent five years in Columbia. Playing for Eli Drinkwitz last season, Utsey had his best year recording 19 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. However, defensive coordinator Ryan Walters departed for Illinois and Utsey decided to make a move for his super senior season.
The sixth-year player will return home to Arkansas and reunite with Odom in Fayetteville. The Hogs were pushed around up front last year and need some size on the defensive line. Utsey — 6-foot-4, 295 pounds — will provide just that.
9. Jace Christmann (K, Mississippi State to Florida)
When Dan Mullen was hired by Florida following the 2017 season, the head coach took committed kicker Evan McPherson with him to Gainesville. The specialist responded by hitting 85 percent of his 60 field goal attempts over three years and will be playing for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021.
Mullen is stealing a Mississippi State kicker again.
Arizona State transfer Brandon Ruiz beat out Christmann last season, and the placekicker is looking for a new gig. He’ll head to Florida bringing an 80 percent field goal success rate on 40 career attempts to The Swamp.
10. Joseph Bulovas (K, Alabama to Vanderbilt)
Among a bunch of other issues, Vanderbilt had major kicking problems last season. Sarah Fuller stepped in at the end of the season, but both Pierson Cooke and Wes Farley combined to make just 4 of 9 attempts with no real range from deep. To fix the special teams problem, new head coach Clark Lea visited the portal.
Bulovas made 22 of 29 career field goals at Alabama before being beaten out by Will Reichard last season. He’ll step in at Vandy to give the ‘Dores a reliable placekicking situation this fall.