College football transfer trends: Offensive linemen and linebackers ‘adapt quickest,’ per ESPN data

Additional transfer trends are good news for USC

ESPN’s Bill Connelly wrote a story detailing college football transfer trends from the 2022 season and what they could mean for 2023. 

For USC, the data looks encouraging. 

Connelly created a scoring system to grade transfers, which in his words “is an extremely subjective process, but the goal was to scope out macro-level trend data for an increasingly huge data set, and this was a solid process for achieving that.”

The biggest takeaway from the data is that linebackers and offensive linemen were best at adapting at their new schools. In other words, those two position groups found success at their new schools at higher rates than the others. 

USC has added one true linebacker in Oklahoma State transfer Mason Cobb and three offensive linemen in Florida transfers Ethan White and Michael Tarquin and Washington State transfer Jarrett Kingston this cycle. All four are expected to contribute for the Trojans in the fall.

Connelly’s data of course doesn’t guarantee that Cobb, White, Tarquin and Kingston will all have good years, but those two positions finding success more often than the others is definitely an interesting trend.

The trend that will make USC fans the happiest is the consistent success of Power 5 school to Power 5 school transfers. Connelly referred to those moves as “the gold standard” in his story. Out of the Trojans’ 12 transfers, 11 are from Power 5 programs. 

While USC hasn’t taken enough defensive transfers to qualify for a “massive defensive overhaul,” according to Connelly, large scale defensive overhauls via the transfer portal largely worked in 2022. 

That’s another important trend for USC because as Trojans fans know very well, their team is in line for one of those in the fall. 

USC has taken six defensive transfers so far. Connelly characterizes a massive defensive overhaul as taking at least eight transfers on defense. Even though the Trojans fall short of that benchmark, the mere fact that adding a high number of players in the portal largely improved defenses in 2022 from where they were at in 2021 should make USC fans jump for joy. 

“The trend lines weren’t clear on defense, but one thing was certain: Teams that went for huge changes were rewarded,” Connelly wrote. 

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