It’s a new era of college football. As redshirt rules have relaxed and the transfer portal’s utilization has skyrocketed in recent years, coaching staffs now are tasked with re-recruiting their entire roster at all times.
And for all 130, err, 131 FBS teams (welcome to the big leagues, James Madison!), there is one constant theme — transfer portal giveth, transfer portal taketh. While the portal scattered a handful of the MAC’s talent to other programs across the country, all 12 MAC teams received a nice haul in return. Let’s zone in on one transfer for each team as football season becomes less than a quarter of a year away:
Akron Zips: Shocky Jacques-Louis
WR from Pitt
There are plenty of challenges Joe Moorhead faces in his first season as Akron’s head coach, but the main one involves transforming an offense which has been dormant for quite some time. The former Penn State offensive coordinator who worked wonders with Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley, and Chris Godwin for the 2016 Big Ten champions is hoping to apply the same mechanics 220 miles west in Northeast Ohio.
He brought in Pitt wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis, who shared a receiving room with Jordan Addison, Jared Wayne, and Taysir Mack on the reigning ACC champions. Jacques-Louis was a steady contributor in the Steel City over the past three seasons, hauling in between 23 and 26 receptions each year from 2019 through 2021, peaking at 348 yards in 2019. Pitt utilized the speedy receiver in the rushing attack too. Adding the longtime Pitt standout should allow Akron to become more creative on offense and bolster the Zips’ passing attack — which has not ranked in the FBS top 75 since 2016.
Ball State Cardinals: Jaquan Amos
FS from Michigan State
Ball State’s defense is no longer spearheaded by the graduated Bryce Cosby, a 5-year starter who served as a longtime heartbeat of the team. Not only do the Cardinals lose their star free safety who registered 108 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks in 2021, they also lose strong safety Brett Anderson who provided meaningful contributions for five years.
The Cardinals’ 2021 defense was a group laden of super seniors. To replenish veteran presence, Ball State acquired Jaquan Amos on the transfer market. Amos will have one year of eligibility after spending three seasons at Villanova and one at Iowa State. The former Cyclone registered just two tackles last season, but his all-conference résumé and experience from the FCS level should pay dividends for this young defense in Muncie.
Bowling Green Falcons: Chris Bacon
SS from Georgia State
One of the more pleasant surprises of 2021 was the progression of Bowling Green’s defense. After fielding bottom 10 scoring defenses from 2016 through 2020, the Falcons’ defense immediately transformed under first-year defensive coordinator Eric Lewis. They wreaked considerably more havoc in the backfield, and that havoc led to a landmark 14-10 upset over Minnesota in September.
The defense returns its major contributors including Darren Anders, Jordan Anderson, and Davon Ferguson, but gaining an experienced transfer could further that progression. Georgia State strong safety Chris Bacon joins the unit after registering 105 tackles and one interception in 34 games as a Panther. In Lewis’ defense, the safeties and corners are trained to become menaces in the backfield, as suggested by Ferguson’s 8.0 tackles for loss from the secondary in 2021. As a strong tackler with a handful of TFLs to his name, Bacon’s presence will certainly be welcome alongside a senior-heavy defense.
Buffalo Bulls: Ibrahim Kante
DE from NC State
Buffalo is still in the middle of a rebuild, transitioning from the Lance Leipold era to Maurice Linguist’s program. Despite the transition, one of Buffalo’s identities remained constant amidst all the chaos — the ability to generate sacks. The Bulls ranked 16th in the FBS in 2021 by racking up 3.1 per game. Former First Team All-MAC defensive end Taylor Riggins is gone, but the team already adjusted to life without him as he endured several injuries across 2020 and 2021.
Still, five of the team’s six leading sackmasters return, and they’ll receive an additional boost from NC State transfer Ibrahim Kante. The Wolfpack graduate accrued three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in six games last fall, constantly demonstrating his explosiveness off the edge. Kante is one of the most established transfers for any MAC school this offseason, entering Buffalo with double-digit starts and 14 career tackles for loss. He’ll operate alongside Daymond Williams, Kyler Lainge, Max Michel, and George Wolo to sustain Buffalo’s excellence in the trenches.
Central Michigan Chippewas: Carlos Carriere
WR from Maryland
Central Michigan returns the reigning FBS rushing leader in Lew Nichols, who scorched defenses to the tune of 1,848 yards in his first season as the starter. However, both components of the Chippewas’ All-MAC receiving tandem — Kalil Pimpleton and JaCorey Sullivan — are testing the waters of the NFL. Dallas Dixon returns but the team certainly needs additional help in replacing that departed receiver talent.
Thus, Carlos Carriere is the ideal addition to this offense. The former Terrapin recorded eight starts while playing in the Big Ten, including five in his latest 2021 campaign. Carriere posted career-highs across the board last fall including 24 receptions, 316 yards, and a Maryland-best five receiving touchdowns. He was the offensive star of the Terrapins’ 38-35 victory over Indiana in late October, corralling eight receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. At 6’5”, the big target serves as a great foil to Dixon — forming a new duo for Daniel Richardson to operate with.
Eastern Michigan Eagles: Taylor Powell
QB from Troy
The Eagles conducted a quarterback battle during non-conference play last season. Cincinnati transfer Ben Bryant ultimately emerged over the incumbent Preston Hutchinson. It was expected for Hutchinson to enter the transfer portal after receiving backup status, but Bryant boomeranged back to Cincy, creating a void at the quarterback spot in The Factory.
Enter Taylor Powell, a seasoned quarterback whose college career began at Missouri in 2017. After one start as a Tiger, Powell migrated down south to Troy for the 2021 campaign and claimed the role as Week 1 starter. He made five consecutive starts, but an injury spoiled Powell’s tenure as a Trojan. After firing for 1,251 yards, seven touchdowns, and six interceptions on a 66.1 completion rate, Powell looks fit to be Eastern Michigan’s starter for 2022. The main QB competition for the well-traveled Powell is 2021 recruit Austin Smith, whose in-game collegiate experience is limited to one game and one passing attempt against Texas State last September.
Kent State Golden Flashes: Nolan Rumler
OT from Michigan
Kent State’s entire starting offensive line is gone, save for interior lineman Jack Bailey. Bailey will provide veteran presence from the center or guard slot, but the Golden Flashes lost a considerable amount of tackle depth — most notably Second Team All-MAC honoree Bill Kuduk.
Thus, the Golden Flashes desperately needed to address the trenches in the portal this offseason. Nolan Rumler, a Kent, OH native, committed to the program in December after waiting his turn on the bench at Michigan. Rumler saw limited action for the reigning Big Ten champions, but he’ll have an opportunity in his hometown to rise to the top of the depth chart immediately. With a 6’3”, 315 pound frame, Rumler brings a much-needed degree of power to the o-line, which was well demonstrated in high school when he earned three All-Ohio selections and won four state championships.
Miami RedHawks: Nolan Johnson
CB from East Carolina
As with many MAC teams, there is high turnover among senior classes this year and that’s due to the NCAA extending eligibility to all fall athletes during the 2020 COVID season. Many of the would-be 2020 seniors wound up utilizing 2021 as their final year. Miami is no exception to this trend, and losses on defense include the longtime safety tandem of Sterling Weatherford and Mike Brown, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.
Nolan Johnson restocks that depth, coming from an East Carolina secondary which boasted Second Team All-American cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian. He gained considerable experience in four years as a Pirate, compiling 71 tackles and forcing two fumbles. After playing his final defensive snaps in October, Johnson walked off the plank and into the RedHawks’ organization. Here, he’ll aim to carry over East Carolina’s turnover-producing abilities (seventh in interceptions per game in 2021) to a Miami team which struggled to generate takeaways.
Northern Illinois Huskies: Shermar Thornton
WR from FIU
The offensive firepower of the MAC champion Huskies was sensational to end last season. Northern Illinois averaged roughly 36 points in its final eight games, and the eruption of Rocky Lombardi and the aerial attack was the primary explanation. The Huskies return their top two receivers in Trayvon Rudolph — who dazzled with 309 yards and three touchdowns in a single game at Kent State — and Cole Tucker.
Tyrice Richie, who sustained an injury in that Kent State game, is no longer on the roster, so that’s where FIU transfer Shermar Thornton fits in. Thornton has been around the game for quite some time, maxing his numbers out in 2019 when he led FIU in receptions (51), receiving yards (668), and receiving touchdowns (5). His availability took a hit when he missed the entire 2020 season due to an injury, but the change in scenery could rejuvenate his college career. Armed with Rudolph, Tucker, and now Thornton, that Huskie receiving corps looks lethal as the 2022 opener approaches
Ohio Bobcats: August Pitre
WR from Rice
Ohio’s passing offense didn’t put up numbers to marvel at in 2021, ranking 108th in the FBS and last in the MAC in passing yards per game. Instead of tearing apart the air, the Bobcats ran a more efficient, conservative passing attack which completed attempts at a respectable 64.1 percent rate in Tim Albin’s first season at helm.
To add verticality to this passing attack, the Bobcats consulted the portal and landed an experienced deep threat from Rice. August Pitre III ranked third on the Owls in receptions and receiving yards a year ago, tallying 31 and 494. Although he missed nearly half of the 2021 campaign with injury, Pitre started and finished the year strong with a 41-yard touchdown reception in the opener at Arkansas and a 31-yard touchdown grab in the season finale versus Louisiana Tech.
Toledo Rockets: Dallas Gant
ILB from Ohio State
It’s always a fantastic move to add somebody with national championship experience to the roster. Dallas Gant has that. The former Buckeye logged four tackles in the 2020 College Football Playoff for the perennial Big Ten powerhouse, and now he’ll take his talents to the northern side of the state. In four years donning scarlet and grey, Gant logged 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles.
The Toledo native still has plenty left in the tank as he relocates to his hometown with two years of eligibility. Gant is the ideal replacement for last year’s starting inside linebacker Jonathan Jones who loaded the stat sheet with 94 tackles and 9.0 tackles for loss. With Gant arriving to reload the unit, Toledo has the tools necessary to sustain its 28th ranked scoring defense heading into 2022.
Western Michigan Broncos: Anthony Romphf
CB from Purdue
The 2021 season was Western Michigan’s strongest since the storybook Cotton Bowl run in 2016. For the first time since that iconic year, the Broncos registered eight wins and claimed hardware during bowl season. The asset which pushed Western Michigan to that level of success was high level of play in the secondary. With many returning faces, that secondary might be even more fortified in 2022 with Anthony Romphf.
The ex-Purdue corner started the 2021 opener against Oregon State. Despite not recording any tackles last season, he made recurring appearances in five games for the Boilermakers. Back in his home state, the Southfield, MI resident could realistically start for a Broncos team which ranked 10th in fewest passing yards allowed per game. Romphf isn’t the only member of the Purdue defense from Southfield High School moving to Western Michigan. His high school teammate Bryce Austin also conducted a similar transition in the portal, so multiple Boilermakers could make an immediate impact on this unit.