January 30, 2023

It’s been the busiest Transferportal season yet, and it’s not over yet. But who are the winners and losers in the ACC so far? Let’s take a look:

winner

State of Florida

Mike Norvell seems to have this transfer thing under control. The Noles have found huge contributors in recent years, pulling All-ACC artists Jordan Travis, Johnny Wilson, Jammie Robinson, Jermaine Johnson II, Trey Benson and Jared Verse from the portal.

They have a nice haul this year too, adding four players the athlete‘s ongoing best available list. That’s led by Virginia cornerback Fentrell Cypress II, who was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2022 after finishing first in the league with 13 pass separations.

Western Michigan’s Braden Fiske (59 tackles, 12 TFLs, six sacks) joins tackle Darrell Jackson Jr. (Miami) and End Gilber Edmond (South Carolina) as D-Line recruits, and Jeremiah Byers (UTEP) is one of them Best offensive line options this cycle – a difficult position in the portal.

Jaheim Bell (South Carolina) and Kyle Morlock (Shorter) are intriguing tight end options. The Seminoles ended 2022 on an uptrend. This transfer group will only support their outlook for 2023.

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QB moves within the conference

A few schools didn’t go far to fill their quarterback positions.

Pitt will be the third college stop for local hero Phil Jurkovec, who started at Notre Dame before spending three years at Boston College. He threw for 35 touchdowns on his streak with BC but struggled last year in an Eagles offense that hit rock bottom. He could still be an upgrade over the late Kedon Slovis, who was a under-60 percent passer with 10 touchdowns and nine picks in his only year with Pitt.

NC State felt the transfer sting when Devin Leary went to Kentucky but landed a pretty decent replacement in UVa quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who reunites with his former coordinator Robert Anae. Those two were quite a combo with the Cavaliers, with Armstrong throwing for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2021 before proving to be underdogs for Tony Elliott’s new scheme. If he can return anywhere near that form, the Wolfpack has achieved a good one.


Phil Jurkovec will face his two former teams (Notre Dame, BC) in 2023. (David Butler II / USA Today)

Louisville

New manager Jeff Brohm wastes no time hitting the transfer market. Looking to replace Malik Cunningham, he signed quarterback Jack Plummer, who played three years at Purdue before throwing 21 touchdowns and 3,095 yards at Cal last season.

Plummer will have several new receivers to throw at, most notably Georgia State transfer Jamari Thrash, who had 61 catches for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Wisconsin running back Isaac Guerendo could be a starter.

Linebacker Monty Montgomery went to Ole Miss, but it feels like the Cardinals haven’t finished adding. They’re strong in the mix for former stud offensive tackle recruit Kiyaunta Goodwin (Kentucky).

Miami

One would think that the Hurricanes lost more than they added just due to sheer volume considering so many players entered the portal (19 to be exact, despite only three full-time starters).

But they’ve also attracted a good bit of talent, beefing up the offensive line with Matthew Lee, an All-AAC second-team pick from UCF, and Javion Cohen, an All-SEC second-team pick from Alabama. Purdue defensive tackle Branson Deen and UCF cornerback Vomute Brown are vets who should step in immediately. Iowa corner Terry Roberts, who has been struggling with injuries in recent years, could be a nice pickup if he stays healthy.

North Carolina recipients

How do you keep a Heisman Trophy candidate like Drake Maye happy? Get him some receivers.

The Tar Heels lost Josh Downs in the NFL draft, but they made some nice pickups to replenish receiver space by catching Kent State’s Devontez Walker (921 yards, 11 TDs) and Georgia Tech’s Nate McCollum (60 catches, 655 yards ) added ).

Virginia Tech

It’s not a star-studded group, but it’s possible the Hokies added five offensive starters and one key defensive figure.

Baylor transfer Kyron Drones will fight Grant Wells for the quarterback job. They’ll have three new receivers to throw at, led by ODU transfer Ali Jennings III (2,025 yards the last two seasons) and Middle Tennessee’s Jaylin Lane. North Carolina A&T’s Bhayshul Tuten (1,363 yards, 13 TDs) should get plenty of carries, and Georgia Southern cornerback Derrick Canteen led the country with six interceptions in 2020.

The Hokies lost their lead receiver (Kaleb Smith to Notre Dame) and rusher (Keshawn King to TBD) to the portal, but when you’ve got the nation’s 119th offense, everyone is really there the big loss?

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loser

ACC teams that need to play Notre Dame

In the Gasparilla Bowl, Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman threw his 108th career touchdown pass to surpass Clemson’s Tajh Boyd as the all-time top ACC leader. Now he’s a golden domer, one of the most high-profile transfers of the off-season and a blow for the ACC representative to lose such talent.

He’s not the only former ACC player the Irish have snapped (Virginia Tech’s Smith also went to South Bend), but Hartman, who has 12,967 career passing yards, is the one who brought the six ACC teams to the table Notre Dame’s schedule could make it most unfortunate.

Those teams include NC State, Duke, Louisville, Pitt, Clemson and, in a cruel twist of fate, Wake Forest. That move couldn’t have been more painful for the Deacons, who have been hit particularly hard this cycle, also losing defensive end Rondell Bothroyd to Oklahoma and cornerback Gavin Holmes to Texas.

Virginia

The Cavaliers lost a cornerstone of the program in Armstrong, UVa’s career leader in passing yards, touchdown passing and total offense, but he wasn’t alone.

Cypress landed in Florida State, and linebacker Nick Jackson, a three-time All-League pick who has led the Cavaliers in tackles for the past three seasons, is testing the waters. (As of Monday, he still has no goal despite visiting Auburn.) Offensive tackle Logan Taylor, who started every game last year, is still on the portal, and veteran receiver Billy Kemp landed in Nebraska.

The Cavaliers added a few players, most notably Clemson running back Kobe Pace, North Carolina defensive back Cam’Ron Kelly and Monmouth quarterback Tony Muskett, but not nearly enough to recoup the losses.


CB Tony Grimes is leaving UNC after three seasons with Texas A&M. (Rich Story / USA Today)

The pool of talented ACC defenders

Cypress stayed in the league, moving from UVa to FSU, but several talented defenders went to other leagues.

North Carolina dropped a few corners, with former five-star Tony Grimes moving to Texas A&M and second-team All-ACC pick Storm Duck departing for Penn State as part of a major overhaul of a Tar Heels secondary, which was less than the sum of its parts over the past year.

Syracuse felt the pinch too. Ja’Had Carter, an All-ACC honorable mention traded to Ohio State, and cornerback Duce Chestnut, who was a 2021 freshman All-American and a two-year starter, chose LSU. It’s a blow for a Cuse defense that ranks 14th nationally in passing yards allowed.

Clemson’s approach to the portal

You can’t make the winners column here if you choose not to enter, and Dabo Swinney seems determined to do as little as possible on the portal front.

It was easier to defend that stance when the Tigers were a college football playoff team every year, but with some variance over the past two seasons (14th in the last AP poll in 2021 and 13th in 2022) one asks see if Swinney can stick to his recruit-and-develop-em mentality.

One could argue that DJ Uiagalelelei’s move to Oregon State was beneficial for the Tigers because it highlighted how their quarterback situation with Cade Klubnik is developing. But like it or not, there’s a way to add talented players to your team these days, and Clemson’s roster is far from perfect right now. It would be in Swinney’s best interest to try.

(Top Photo by Mike Norvell and Florida State: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

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