Traditionally, college football rosters were built exclusively through direct recruiting of players from the high school ranks to join the roster. You know the structure: meet them at their schools, watch film, get them to visit, and eventually, pick a team.
The landscape of roster development and talent acquisition changed in 2019 when the NCAA implemented the Transfer Portal. This alternative path is a one-time, immediate eligibility (in most cases) chance for a player to leave their current team to go play for a different school. Some people called it Free Agency, but it’s not exactly that. But the Portal has given players much more free movement around the sport, and teams the ability to bolster their rosters with game-ready talent.
Immediately upon its inception, Miami rocketed to the forefront of teams who used the portal to close gaps on the roster. Then-Head Coach Manny Diaz went all-in on the prospect, to mitigate some failings in traditional prep recruiting ranks and improve the roster.
Miami’s first portal class was a massive group of player who immediately stepped into starring roles for the Canes. Among the names in the 2019 portal group for Miami: S Bubba Bolden (USC), DE Jaelan Phillips (UCLA), WR K.J. Osborn (Buffalo), DE Trevon Hill (Virginia Tech), and DT Chigozie Nnoruka (UCLA). While Phillips redshirted to rebuild his body after being out of football, other Portal players in that class who didn’t end up factoring in (or playing at all) for Miami were guys like QB Tate Martell (Ohio State), OL Tommy Kennedy (Butler), and RB Asa Martin (Auburn).
That same year, FSU added QB Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin), and several other players.
After Miami showed the college football world how the Transfer Portal could be used to great, and immediate, effect, teams all over the country, including Florida State, started to add talented transfer from other places to bolster the top end of their rosters.
I could wax poetic about many teams, but you know why we’re here: this is about Miami and Florida State. Duh.
If you look back at the players that each team has added in the portal, there’s a very strong group of all-stars. The Portal Hall of Fame for each school, if you will. A quick rundown:
Miami’s Portal Hall of Fame
S Bubba Bolden, WR K.J. Osborn, DE Jaelan Phillips, DE Quincy Roche, K Jose Borregales, QB D’Eriq King, and WR Charleston Rambo.
That group includes a bunch of stats, a few school-records (Rambo), and a 1st round NFL Draft Pick (Phillips). That’s a pretty damn solid group considering the Transfer Portal has only been around for 4 years.
Florida State’s Portal Hall of Fame
QB Alex Hornibrook (bc he started a full season and was the best option they had at the time, not for elite performance), WR Andrew Parchment (he of the 4th-and-14 catch against Miami in 2021), RB Jashun Corbin, and DE Jermaine Johnson II, who was an absolute MONSTER for the Noles last year.
While Miami has a great number of Portal Hall of Famers, due mainly to Diaz’s immediate adoption of this new talent acquisition mechanic, Florida State has done well to add top end talent to their roster in recent years.
Shifting the focus to the 2022 installment of Miami-FSU, the portal additions for both rosters will have a major if not game-deciding impact on this year’s rivalry game.
Both teams have a plethora of portal additions, which has become a standard for both institutions and most teams across the sport (other than Stanford, because of their academic standards). And for those who are obsessive about roster construction, you’ve probably been screaming the names because I didn’t put them in their respective school’s Portal HOF. But I didn’t forget them, and you won’t either when they make plays on Saturday evening.
For Florida State, there are impactful portal players on both sides of the ball. On offense, athletic QB Jordan Travis leads the way. He was actually in the first portal class for FSU in 2019 when he left Louisville for Tallahassee. His dual-threat ability is a boon for the Noles, and a pain for the opposition. Combine his athleticism with his improved passing ability, and he’s a player who is very tough to deal with.
Joining Travis to help drive the Noles offense are fellow portal additions WR Mycah Pittman, OL Jazston Turrezine, who starts at RT,and the literal and figurative big player on the list: WR Johnny Wilson. Pittman will want to step up in this game as he plays against his former coach Mario Cristobal, for whom Pittman played at Oregon. He’s a shifty player who is used in the run game, pass game, and on returns for the Seminoles.
But the main player in the passing game is the 6’7”, 235lb Wilson. A monster of a receiver who is a matchup nightmare for pretty much any DB, Wilson averages 20 yards per catch, and has double the receiving yards of any other Noles player. Simply put, FSU’s passing game revolves around two portal players — Travis and Wilson — connecting for deep shot after deep shot to move the ball and score points.
While there are plenty of portal players on offense for FSU, their defenders are of note as well. DB Jammie Robinson is FSU’s leading tackler and was voted preseason All-ACC. LB Tatum Bethune is second in both tackles and TFLs. DT Fabian Lovett is at the top of the rotation along with Robert Cooper (not a transfer) on the inside of FSU’s defensive line. But the headlining superstar on defense for FSU this year is DE Jared Verse, who steps into the starring/Portal Hall of Fame role vacated by Jeremiah Johnson II and leads the Noles in TFLs and Sacks. Jake Marcus actually wrote a feature on Verse, which dives even further into his playmaking ability.
After Jermaine Johnson III Wreaked Havoc Against Miami Last Year, FSU Has Another Highly Touted Transfer EDGE Defender Jared Verse.— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) November 1, 2022
Freshman Right Guard, Anez Cooper, is coming off his best game of the year. He’ll need to maintain that momentum this week. https://t.co/4mOCHyuhZh pic.twitter.com/sC8xO4gntV
As for Miami, there are a few portal transfers who will impact Saturday’s game. RB Henry Parrish is the leading rusher for the Canes, and will be the featured back in the Canes’ offense, as he has been throughout the 2022 season. WR Frank Ladson is another portal player on offense for Miami, but his impact on the game is much more pedestrian than Wilson’s is for Florida State.
The bigger player in Miami’s passing game is JUCO Transfer Colbie Young. Not an FBS-to-FBS portal player but still a transfer, Young has stepped into the leading role for Miami’s passing offense. He trails Will Mallory in catches and yards, but considering Young has only really played in 3 games this year, the fact that those numbers are virtually the same, while Young has 4 TDs to Mallory’s 1, is indicative that the young receiver is the focal point of the Canes’ passing attack of late.
On defense, transfers are the leading the way at every level of the defense. DB Tyrique Stevenson is the top cover man for Miami, and he should shadow Wilson across the field on Saturday. DB Darryl Porter Jr. plays rotation snaps in the secondary, but his major impact at Miami will probably be in the years to come.
LB Caleb Johnson has taken on a bigger role in recent weeks, even starting against Virginia. His athleticism is a bonus, particularly against athletic QB’s such as Travis. It is my sincere hope that he plays plenty of snaps on Saturday in an effort to curtail and control Travis’s running.
Miami’s portal additions this year have been more notable and impactful along the defensive line. DE Akheem Mesidor is a standout star, and to this point of the season has twice been named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week. Fellow transfers DT Darrell Jackson, DE Mitchell Agude join Mesidor among the top 6 in TFLs for Miami. Additional transfers Jacob Lichtenstein and Antonio Moultrie add quality depth along the line.
No matter where you look during this weekend’s Miami-FSU game, you’re bound to see not just one, but multiple portal transfers on the field together. With those players making big plays, with both teams being led on both sides of the ball (and special teams too), you can expect the transfer portal to continue to be a key determining factor in the Miami-Florida State game for years to come.
Which Portal Player will be the most impactful in Miami-Florida State?
This poll is closed
Miami DE Akheem Mesidor
Miami WR Colbie Young
FSU QB Jordan Travis
FSU DE Jared Verse
FSU WR Johnny Wilson
Other (leave name in comments)