Many of college football‘s top performers from 2022 are preparing for next month’s NFL draft. Others have arrived at their new campuses after entering the transfer portal and changing schools.
Schools have various holes they need to address. Alabama lost Heisman Trophy quarterback Bryce Young and two-time Nagurski Trophy winner Will Anderson Jr., both of whom are projected top-10 draft picks. North Carolina lost two former starting cornerbacks, Tony Grimes and Storm Duck, to the portal.
Some teams already had depth on their roster. Some schools are bringing in transfers to make an impact and fill voids. Others are recruiting high school talent to replace outgoing players.
Here is a look at some of the more important losses for each team in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 and the players who will fill those voids in 2023.
Biggest loss: QB Stetson Bennett. This very well could have been defensive tackle Jalen Carter or any of the defenders departing, but Bennett guided Georgia’s offense to two national championships and was a Heisman finalist, throwing for 4,127 yards and 27 touchdowns — while running for 10 more — in 2022.
Who will replace him? Georgia has some good options behind Bennett already in Brock Vandagriff, who was the No. 37 prospect in the 2021 class, and Carson Beck, the No. 234 recruit in the 2020 class. The coaches also signed Gunner Stockton, who was the No. 110 prospect in the 2023 class.
Biggest loss: QB C.J. Stroud. Stroud was a Heisman finalist the past two seasons and put up big numbers ever since he was named the starter: 8,123 yards and 85 passing touchdowns. He will leave a big hole in the offense, and it’ll be a challenge to replace him.
Who will replace him? The Buckeyes signed two quarterbacks in the 2021 class, which proved to be smart as Quinn Ewers, who was the No. 1 quarterback in the class, transferred to Texas. The other quarterback, Kyle McCord, is now in line to start in 2023 for Ohio State. He was the No. 31 prospect overall and will have to compete with Devin Brown, the No. 81 prospect in the 2022 class.
Biggest loss: C Olusegun Oluwatimi. Michigan has not utilized the transfer portal as much as some other schools in the past, but the coaches got Oluwatimi to transfer from Virginia. He won the Rimington Award for the nation’s best center but is now off to the NFL.
Who will replace him? Michigan once again used the portal to try to help the offensive line stay at a consistent level and added Stanford center Drake Nugent, who allowed just two pressures in 497 pass-blocking plays last year. He will battle with Greg Crippen and Raheem Anderson.
Biggest loss: DB Jammie Robinson. Robinson was all over the field for the Seminoles, leading the team with 99 tackles, breaking up five passes and recording one interception and one sack in 2022. His presence in the secondary helped Florida State rank sixth in pass defense (165.4 yards per game) and win the Cheez-It Bowl over Oklahoma.
Who will replace him? Coach Mike Norvell used the transfer portal quite a bit this offseason but did not add a safety to replace Robinson. The staff has Shyheim Brown, who had 36 total tackles and broke up two passes, already on the roster. Omarion Cooper (14 tackles, one interception) will also have a shot at helping at safety, and the Seminoles also signed three-star safety Kenton Kirkland in the 2023 class.
Biggest loss: QB Bryce Young. On defense, Will Anderson Jr. is a huge loss for the Crimson Tide, but Young was the quarterback who made the offense go for Alabama. A former Heisman winner, Young threw for 8,200 yards and 79 touchdowns over the past two seasons and is considered a top-five draft pick.
Who will replace him? Jalen Milroe saw some action in 2022, throwing for 297 yards and five touchdowns on 31 completions. He also ran for 265 yards and a touchdown and has a good shot at taking the starting job next season. He will have to compete with Ty Simpson, who was the No. 34 prospect in the 2022 class, as well as two ESPN 300 recruits who signed in 2023 in Eli Holstein and Dylan Lonergan. Either way, Alabama has some talented options at the position.
Biggest loss: S Ji’Ayir Brown. While cornerback Joey Porter Jr., a first-round talent, could also be in this spot, Brown led the team in total tackles (74) and interceptions (four). He also recorded seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, making his presence all the more difficult to replace.
Who will replace him? The staff is returning safety Keaton Ellis, who played opposite Brown, but will likely see Jaylen Reed or Zakee Wheatley take Brown’s spot. Reed, a 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore, had 31 tackles last season along with three pass breakups and would be a good option at the position.
Biggest loss: WR Jordan Addison. Addison was a surprise transfer when he left Pitt and decided to join USC prior to the 2022 season. He fit right in and led the team in receiving yards (875) and touchdowns (eight) despite missing three games.
Who will replace him? The staff is returning Tahj Washington and Mario Williams, who were second and third in receiving yards, which will help replace Addison’s production. Lincoln Riley also went to the transfer portal again and got Arizona receiver Dorian Singer, who led the conference in receiving yards (1,105) and also had six receiving touchdowns. Singer should be able to step in right away and help replace Addison.
Biggest loss: LB Micah Baskerville. BJ Ojulari was second on the team in sacks and Jarrick Bernard-Converse led the team in interceptions. But Baskerville led the team with 89 total tackles and was a fifth-year senior, a team leader on defense who seemed to make important plays in most games for LSU, which made the SEC title game and won the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl.
Who will replace him? Luckily for the Tigers, their linebacker corps is anchored by freshman Harold Perkins Jr., who finished with 72 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He’ll be back next season, as will Greg Penn III, and the staff added Oregon State linebacker Omar Speights, who had 83 total tackles and eight tackles for loss last season.
Biggest loss: DB Christian Gonzalez, a transfer from Colorado, started all 12 regular-season games for Oregon and led the team with four interceptions. He had seven pass breakups and 50 total tackles while becoming a potential first-round draft pick.
Who will replace him? The staff is returning Trikweze Bridges, who played opposite Gonzalez, and they also added Alabama corner Khyree Jackson in the transfer portal. Dontae Manning was a top-25 recruit in the 2020 class who signed with Oregon. He and Jackson will have a chance to compete for the starting job.
Biggest loss: QB Hendon Hooker. Hooker was a Heisman contender before his season-ending ACL injury. He played a huge part in the Vols’ revival, and the offense thrived under him, as he totaled 3,135 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Who will replace him? While Hooker is off to the NFL, backup Joe Milton III did receive his share of playing time last season. Milton had 971 passing yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions on 82 pass attempts, leading the Vols to an Orange Bowl win over Clemson. He will have a leg up on incoming freshman Nicholaus Iamaleava, who was the No. 23 recruit overall in the 2023 class.
Biggest loss: RB Wayne Taulapapa. Taulapapa transferred in from Virginia and wound up being one of the more productive players for Washington this past season. He led the team in rushing yards with 887 and he tacked on 11 touchdowns in 2022.
Who will replace him? The staff is returning Cameron Davis, who ran for 522 yards and 13 touchdowns this past season. They also added Dillon Johnson (1,198 career yards, 11 touchdowns) from Mississippi State and Daniyel Ngata (689 career yards, six touchdowns) from Arizona State. The coaches signed three-star Tybo Rogers in the 2023 class, so they should have plenty of options to get production from the running back room.
Biggest loss: QB Max Duggan. Duggan started the season as the backup to Chandler Morris, but became the starter once Morris was injured. All Duggan did was become a Heisman finalist and help TCU to the national championship game. He’s off to the NFL, though, and TCU will have to replace the production from last season.
Who will replace him? Sam Jackson transferred to Cal, leaving Morris and sophomore Josh Hoover as the options at quarterback in 2023. Sonny Dykes tried to land ESPN 300 quarterback Jaden Rashada after he was released from his national letter of intent from Florida but was unsuccessful, with Rashada signing with Arizona State. TCU doesn’t have a quarterback in the 2023 class.
Biggest loss: TE Dalton Kincaid. Kincaid led the Utes in receiving yards (890) and receiving touchdowns (eight). He is one of the top three tight ends in this year’s NFL draft class and was one of the key players on the Utah offense.
Who will replace him? As difficult as replacing Kincaid will be, Utah has no shortage of tight ends on the roster. Thomas Yassmin, who had 301 receiving yards and six touchdowns of his own last season, is returning. The Utes are also getting Brant Kuithe back after he suffered an ACL injury that ended his 2022 season.
Biggest loss: TE Michael Mayer. Mayer led Notre Dame in receiving yards (809) and receiving touchdowns (nine). As the consensus No. 1 tight end in the draft, it will be difficult to replace what he brought to the team.
Who will replace him? Notre Dame does have other options at the position, though, including Kevin Bauman, who suffered a season-ending injury in September, and Mitchell Evans, who caught a touchdown in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The coaching staff signed ESPN 300 tight end Holden Staes and three-star Eli Raridon in 2022, then signed ESPN 300 tight end Cooper Flanagan as well as four-star Preston Zinter in 2023. It’s not clear who will step up as of now, but there are options.
Biggest loss: DE Myles Murphy. This is more of a package deal, with Murphy, Bryan Bresee and K.J. Henry entering the draft. They combined for 13.5 sacks and 120 total tackles last season. Murphy is the consensus No. 2 defensive end in the draft and a top-10 pick, according to Mel Kiper Jr.
Who will replace him? Despite losing them, Clemson still has a pretty deep group up front. Defensive tackle Tyler Davis (15.5 career sacks) is back, as are defensive ends Justin Mascoll and Xavier Thomas. Ruke Orhorhoro (four sacks in 2022) will likely step in at defensive tackle, and the staff still has Greg Williams, Cade Denhoff, Tre Williams, Payton Page and DeMonte Capehart on the bench. The staff also added five-star defensive tackle Peter Woods, who will likely see the field in some fashion because of his combination of power and speed. The coaches also added ESPN 300 defensive tackles Vic Burley and Stephiylan Green, as well as ESPN 300 defensive ends Tomarrion Parker and David Ojiegbe.
Biggest loss: RB Bijan Robinson. Robinson, a consensus top-10 draft prospect, led the team in rushing yards (1,580) and scored 18 touchdowns. He also had 314 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the season. The Longhorns are also losing the second-leading rusher, Roschon Johnson, to the NFL.
Who will replace him? The staff returns Keilan Robinson, who transferred in from Alabama prior to the 2022 season. The staff signed ESPN 300 running back Jaydon Blue in the 2022 class and signed Cedric Baxter Jr., the No. 30 prospect overall in the 2023 class, as well as four-star Tre Wisner. Whoever takes over will lack experience, but the Longhorns boast some talent on the roster.
Biggest loss: LB Omar Speights. Speights led the team in total tackles (83) and also had eight tackles for loss this past season. He was a leader on defense and will be a big loss after he transferred to LSU.
Who will replace him? Oregon State does have John Miller, who recorded seven total tackles in four games during the 2022 season. The staff also added former ESPN 300 linebacker Mason Tufaga from Utah, as well as Wyoming linebacker Oluwaseyi Omotosho. Miller, who is entering his third season with the Beavers, has experience and the potential to stand out in 2023, no matter how difficult replacing Speights may be.
Biggest loss: RB Deuce Vaughn. Though cornerback Julius Brents (team-high four interceptions) is a big loss on defense, the 5-foot-6, 176-pound Vaughn seemed to make big play after big play for the offense, including in the Big 12 championship game against TCU and the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. He led the team in rushing yards (1,558) and was second on the team to quarterback Adrian Martinez in rushing touchdowns (nine). He also had 378 receiving yards and three touchdowns as well.
Who will replace him? The team returns DJ Giddens, who had 518 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2022, and the staff also added running back Treshaun Ward from Florida State. This past season for the Seminoles, Ward had 649 yards and seven touchdowns and will likely have a big role this season for Kansas State.
Biggest loss: RB Tyjae Spears. Tulane is losing quite a few stars from last season, including linebackers Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson, who combined for 244 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2022. Those two could very well be the biggest loss, but the team is also losing Spears. He led the team in rushing yards with 1,581 yards and had 19 rushing touchdowns.
Who will replace him? Tulane returns its third- and fourth-leading rushers in Shaadie Clayton-Johnson (333 yards, two touchdowns) and Iverson Celestine (306 yards, no touchdowns). They averaged 5.8 and 4.0 yards per carry, respectively, and will have every opportunity to step up to replace Spears’ production.
Biggest loss: WRs Malik Heath and Jonathan Mingo. The Rebels are also losing their leading tackler in linebacker Troy Brown and defensive lineman Tavius Robinson, who led the team in sacks. But Ole Miss needs playmakers on offense, especially with what looks like an impending battle for the starting quarterback position. Heath led the team in receiving yards with 971 and was tied with Mingo for the most touchdowns (five).
Who will replace them? Lane Kiffin did a lot of work in the portal to add to the position group with Louisiana Tech’s Tre Harris, who had 935 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and Chris Marshall, a true freshman transferring in from Texas A&M. They will be new targets for whomever is under center, whether that is Oklahoma State transfer Spencer Sanders, returner Jaxson Dart or LSU transfer Walker Howard.
Biggest loss: CB Storm Duck. North Carolina was hit hard in the secondary, losing Duck, Tony Grimes, Cam’Ron Kelly, Tymir Brown, Dontavius Nash and Dontae Balfour to the transfer portal. Duck, who left for Penn State, led the team in interceptions (three) and also had nine pass breakups in 2022.
Who will replace him? The staff lost quite a bit, but they were able to add a few players in Virginia Tech corner Armani Chatman (five pass breakups, 22 total tackles), Eastern Tennessee State corner Alijah Huzzie (six interceptions, 56 total tackles), Georgia Tech safety Derrik Allen (29 total tackles) and Georgia State safety Antavious Lane (86 total tackles, two interceptions). The coaches are returning Lejond Cavazos, who had 18 tackles and two pass breakups last season, as well as Ladaeson DeAndre Hollins, who had entered the portal but withdrew his name. Marcus Allen will also be back — he had 16 total tackles as a freshman and showed he could be a reliable option in the secondary.
Biggest loss: S Clifford Chattman. Chattman was a ballhawk for UTSA and had a whopping five interceptions with 14 pass breakups last season. He was tied for second on the team in total tackles with 72.
Who will replace him? The Roadrunners are returning Ken Robinson (four pass breakups, 37 total tackles) and bring back All-Conference USA first team defender Rashad Wisdom, whose season was cut short in October. His replacement in 2022, Kelechi Nwachuku, also will be back, and the staff brought in Elliot Davison (three interceptions, four pass breakups) from Incarnate Word.
Biggest loss: EDGE Tyree Wilson. Texas Tech also loses linebacker Krishon Merriweather, who had 112 total tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries and 2 forced fumbles in an excellent season. Wilson, considered a potential top-five draft pick, led the team with 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2022. His pass-rush presence will be missed and will certainly be difficult to replace.
Who will replace him? The team is returning Jesiah Pierre, who was third in sacks (4.5) and also recorded 40 total tackles in 2022. Isaac Smith, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound linebacker, also returns, as do Robert Wooten, who played in 10 games with one start in 2022, and a handful of other outside linebackers. The coaches also added Oregon edge rusher Terrell Tilmon as a preferred walk-on.
Biggest loss: WR Kris Thornton. Thornton led the team in receiving yards (1,015) last season, more than 600 yards more than the Dukes’ second-leading receiver (Reggie Brown, 401). Thornton was tied for the most touchdown receptions with seven and will be a big loss for the James Madison offense.
Who will replace him? Brown will be back this season, though, as will running back Kaelon Black (510 total yards, five touchdowns) and tight end Zach Horton (159 yards, two touchdowns). The coaches put an emphasis on the position in the transfer portal and brought in USF wide receiver Omarion Dollison (666 career receiving yards), Saint Francis receiver Elijah Sarratt (700 yards in 2022) and North Dakota State’s Phoenix Sproles (888 career yards), along with tight end Taylor Thompson (580 career yards) from Charlotte and Kyi Wright (37 career yards) from Pitt.
Biggest loss: LB Jack Campbell. Campbell was a force at linebacker for the Hawkeyes, winning the Butkus Award in 2022 as the top linebacker in the country. He was a consensus All-American and led the team in tackles (128) during the 2022 season.
Who will replace him? Replacing his production on the field and his leadership in the locker room will be difficult, but Iowa has some options. On the roster, Jay Higgins has already contributed with 39 total tackles this past season. The staff also brought in Virginia linebacker Nick Jackson, who led the Cavaliers with 104 total tackles and also recorded five sacks and four pass breakups.