Transfer portal for college football: Top players available in the spring window

College football’s spring transfer portal window extravaganza has begun and there’s already several immediate impact starters who have made themselves available nearing the end of spring practice. With depth charts coming into focus ahead of the 2024 season and spring exit meetings out of the way, now’s the time for those looking for opportunities elsewhere or NIL enhancements to go public.

The spring window runs for two weeks through Tuesday, April 30. Initially the NCAA set the spring transfer window to open May 1, but the NCAA later amended it to trigger in April. Teams are allowed to host recruits on visits throughout the spring window since it’s a contact period. The winter window rules were far stricter in that regard. Fifteen of the 30 days the portal was open in the winter were dead, which means schools were not allowed to make in-person recruiting contact.

Transfer grade: 99

Kadyn Proctor, a five-star freshman last season for Alabama who entered the portal and landed at his native Iowa earlier this offseason, is back on the market. Proctor started every game at left tackle for Alabama last season. The former five-star signee, a Des Moines native, earned True Freshman All-American honors and helped the Crimson Tide reach the College Football Playoff. He’s expected to transfer from Iowa back to Alabama, per 247Sports.

Transfer grade: 93

Oregon State’s Damien Martinez, one of college football’s top returning running backs will have a bevy of potential options. The All-American ball carrier was reportedly expected to be the Beavers’ highest-paid player in NIL next season and now takes 2,000-plus career rushing yards with him to a new destination. Several power conference programs in need of a high-end ballcarrier are expected to reach out given Martinez’s proven productivity. He’ll be rated right up there with Ohio State signee and former Ole Miss standout Quinshon Judkins along with ex-Florida ballcarrier Trevor Etienne, who signed with Georgia, as the top transfer at the position.

Transfer grade: 92

Per Lions247, the Norfolk, Va., native finished the 2023 season as the Nittany Lions’ leading receiver with 53 catches for 673 yards and four touchdowns to earn All-Big Ten honorable mention, but had a quiet end to the campaign. Keandre Lambert-Smith officially entered on Monday as a graduate transfer. Lambert-Smith had just two catches for 28 yards in the final four games of the season. In the loss to Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, Lambert-Smith played a season-low 21 offensive snaps and didn’t record a catch. James Franklin declined comment on Lambert-Smith’s expected departure following Penn State’s spring game.

Jacoby Matthews, a former four-star signee expected to start at Texas A&M this season, entered the portal Tuesday. Via GigEm247, Mathews appeared in 21 games with 12 starts over two years in College Station while recording a combined 67 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, one interception and eight passes defended. He took over in the third game of the 2023 season for Jardin Gilbert who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. Overall, Mathews tallied 42 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, one interception and five passes defended. Pro Football Focus graded him at 80.8 in coverage.

Arizona cornerback Tacario Davis entered the transfer portal in late January as the wave of departures out of Tucson began following Jedd Fisch’s departure to Washington. However, initial reports indicated he was still with the Wildcats ahead of the start of spring practice. As of Tuesday, he remains a free agent. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound soon-to-be junior made 11 starts for the Wildcats last season and led the Pac-12 with 15 pass breakups. Davis earned second-team All-Pac-12 while finishing with a career-high 25 total tackles and an interception.

Miami edge Nyjalik Kelly is the top-rated edge rusher available in the portal for the spring cycle and should command much attention given his position of need. Per Inside The U, Kelly played in four games in 2023, totaling eight tackles and one tackle for loss. According to Pro Football Focus, Kelly generated six quarterback pressures in 131 defensive snaps last year. His season was cut short due to injury. Kelly signed with Miami in the 2022 recruiting class and was one of the gems of Mario Cristobal’s transition class, ranking as the No. 87 overall player in the country, according to 247Sports.

SMU starting center Branson Hickman is one of the most seasoned players available and has drawn interest from Arkansas, Washington and others. He played in nine games in 2021 and once he started the final seven games of that season, Hickman never gave the position up outside of missing one contest due to injury. He started the final 33 games he played, including 12 in 2022 and all 14 during the 2023 campaign. For schools in need of a plug-and-play starter up front, he’s the guy.

A former quarterback at Texas A&M, Eli Stowers transferred to New Mexico State where he planned to play under center, but found more playing time at the tight end spot. Stowers did not make a 2022 impact at Texas A&M despite some turmoil at the quarterback position. Haynes King entered the year as Texas A&M’s starter but was eventually replaced by LSU transfer Max Johnson. Both of those guys are no longer with the Aggies. Johnson suffered a season-ending injury against Mississippi State and King re-entered the game. King went out with an injury against South Carolina, causing the Aggies to turn to true freshman Conner Weigman over Stowers.

Tennessee’s leading tackler last season over the final 10 games, Elijah Herring is in the portal with two seasons of eligibility remaining. Herring was thrust into action in September after a season-ending injury to Keenan Pili, whose return in 2024 creates a traffic jam of sorts at the linebacker spot for the Vols — and Herring wants first-team reps exclusively, per Vols247.

Transfer grade: 86

After Arkansas took Boise State’s Taylen Green at quarterback during the fall portal cycle, Jacolby Criswell has decided to enter the portal after taking second-team reps during the spring at the position. Per HawgSports, Criswell originally transferred to Arkansas from North Carolina ahead of the 2023 season and has two years of eligibility remaining due to a bonus year in 2020. Criswell played behind three-year starter KJ Jefferson last season and completed 17 of 27 passes (63.0%) for 143 yards with three touchdowns. He also ran 23 times for 44 yards and had a 60-yard run in mop-up time against Auburn.


Colorado is going back to the drawing board for its offensive line in 2024 following the loss of expected starter Savion Washington to the portal this week. Washington started nine games during Deion Sanders’ first season with the Buffaloes and played 660 snaps at right tackle. Colorado’s offensive front gave up more sacks than any Power Five program nationally last season, so an overhaul was expected. Five-star 2024 signee Jordan Seaton is expected to be a true freshman starter at one of the tackle spots.