Most of the talk surrounding the NCAA transfer portal these days has to do with men’s basketball, but as spring football has wrapped up around the country, it stands to reason that there will be an influx of pigskin players in the portal over the next short while.
On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Max Olson and Bruce Feldman released a list of the top 50 impact transfers for the 2021 season — whether they’re committed to a new school already or undecided — and four players with Utah ties made the list.
Coming in at No. 5 is former East High standout Siaki “Apu” Ika, who transferred from LSU to Baylor. At No. 19 is new Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer, who transferred from Baylor. Coming in at No. 48 is new BYU receiver Puka Nacua, the former Orem High star who transferred from Washington. Rounding out the list at No. 50 is new Utah State linebacker Justin Rice, who followed new head coach Blake Anderson from Arkansas State.
Here’s what Olson and Feldman wrote about each of the four players:
Ika: “At LSU, ‘Apu’ Ika looked like he had an incredibly bright future as a true freshman rotation player on the defensive line of the 2019 national championship team. But the young nose tackle struggled with the Tigers’ switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front last year and went in the portal during the season.
He reunited with his former LSU coaches at Baylor and looked downright unblockable at times this spring. One source called him an “absolute freak show” at 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds who’s made everybody on their line better. Ika should quickly emerge as one of the Big 12’s best defensive linemen.”
Brewer: “Brewer could’ve become a five-year starter at Baylor but preferred a change of scenery for his final college season. He left as the Bears’ all-time leader in completions, throwing for 9,700 yards and 65 touchdowns and rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 22 scores. Brewer helped lead Baylor to the Big 12 title game and the Sugar Bowl in 2019, but the Bears’ offensive issues last fall made for a frustrating senior season. The veteran passer’s decision-making and command of the Utes’ offense impressed this spring, and he went 15-for-15 in his spring game debut. He’ll still have to compete with Cam Rising but is in good shape to win this starting job.”
Nacua: “After catching 16 passes for 319 yards and three scores in two seasons with the Huskies, Nucua joined his brother Samson Nacua in transferring back home to BYU this offseason. The former top-150 recruit will have a chance to make good on his potential and break out as BYU’s No. 1 wideout.”
Rice: “Rice was one of the more unique transfer stories of the wild 2020 season. The linebacker left Fresno State in the middle of August as a grad transfer after being named preseason defensive player of the year in the Mountain West. He joined Arkansas State and was on the field two weeks later. Rice had another terrific season there with 76 tackles and a nation-leading 18.5 tackles for loss.
He then opted to follow coach Blake Anderson to Utah State for his super senior season and performed well this spring. Texas transfer Byron Vaughns also had an excellent spring and is a long, twitchy athlete with a high motor and three years to play. Between those two, the Aggies have added some serious talent at linebacker.”
New Oklahoma running back Eric Gray, who transferred from Tennessee, tops the list.