College Football Summer School: Transfer Rankings, Incoming Roster Score

Written By Brett Gibbons on June 17, 2022
Transfer Rankings

The transfer portal is a new staple to the way college football teams build their rosters. It’s here to stay, love it or hate it. Do college football transfer rankings affect things like win totals and futures odds? What will their lasting effect be on these teams? How should we be considering college football transfer rankings when evaluating and projecting teams for this coming season?

Below, we’ll look at some of the teams that have capitalized on the transfer portal most and how it affects college football odds.

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College Football Transfer Rankings: Incoming Roster Score

The table below is sorted by teams with the top-15 transfer portal talent scores heading into the 2022 season via 247sports.

TeamTransferRecruitingCompositeWin Total
Ole Miss83.65222.38257.407.5
South Carolina56.65220.16234.506.5
Miami (FL)53.03235.03264.528.5
Florida State52.79229.46247.876.5
Michigan State48.69221.83232.567.5

A New Era In College Football

The transfer portal was implemented in 2018 as a method of tracking players who wanted to transfer schools. It was used sparingly in the first few seasons and when a player did use it, it was usually a rotational player. With NIL and relaxed transfer guidelines, the portal has turned into an almost free agency-like system for college football.

The impacts of transfers on win totals and futures is yet to be seen. However, the positive effects on a team are clear. Land already-proven talent and you’re going to be competitive.

What Is Incoming Roster Score?

It’s a grade set by 247Sports that adds what a team brought in via the transfer portal, through recruiting, and what it lost in the transfer portal. Incoming roster scores and roster talent rankings are important in evaluating a team’s performance versus expectation during a given year. Because of large talent gaps in college football, these scores can be used as a solid benchmark or handicapping tool, especially in smaller markets.

However, incoming roster score isn’t everything. For example, teams like Texas and Miami (FL) consistently rank near the top of recruiting boards, but they also have consistently underdelivered in wins. Like all metrics in college football, it should be used as one of many tools.

Incoming roster score should also not be used as an immediate handicapping tool. Use it in a case-by-case basis; for example, Texas A&M is going to use a lot of their new, record-breaking class right away whereas Alabama won’t plug in any of their guys for two years or so. Think of it as a good benchmark for where the program is headed rather than a catch-all and immediate impact metric.

More College Football: least returning production in 2022

Top College Football Transfer Rankings

Below, we’ll look at three cases of top transfer teams that utilized the portal in wildly different ways. How does the portal affect each of their outlooks?

USC Trojans ()

Incoming roster score/transfer score: 165.48/92.97

Lincoln Riley worked the portal to bring a couple of his top players from Oklahoma (Caleb Williams, Mario Williams) and land other top talent from around the country (Jordan Addison, Eric Gentry). In the eyes of oddsmakers, this is the way to go, listing USC’s win total at , up massively from their five wins a season ago.

The 2022 Trojans are almost entirely transfer-built, ranking just 70th in recruiting. It’s not unusual to see teams’ recruiting scores suffer when teams change coaching staffs, especially with the way younger kids are being recruited and prospects commit sometimes before their junior year.

No doubt, USC has the most players that will make the most impact from Day 1. This is an example in which transfer rankings should be used heavily in the evaluation process of a team.

  • Forecast: Caleb Williams is one of the top Heisman candidates for good reason; we saw flashes of his ability in the Red River Shootout last year and at various points in the season. Following his head coach matters a great deal, especially with cohesiveness. He also brings his number-one target. To think USC’s offense won’t hit the ground running is foolish. However, opposing coaches believe USC will need “two years” to overtake Utah in the conference (Athlon Sports).

Ole Miss Rebels ()

Incoming roster score/transfer score: 257.40/83.65

Jaxson Dart is the player hogging all of the headlines for Ole Miss’ transfer class. What’s not to be overlooked is the absolute haul the Rebels got in the backfield and the stud pass rusher coming over from Georgia Tech (Jared Ivey). TCU’s Zach Evans and SMU’s Ulysses Bentley make up the most powerful duo in college football backfields and will likely play a much bigger role in the offense than is currently being evaluated.

In contrast to USC, Ole Miss had an established system under coach Lane Kiffin in place. Overhauling a roster with plenty of returning starters brings uncertainty rather than starting fresh with a clean slate.

Oddsmakers foresee a big regression coming to Ole Miss (over wins), but it’s hard to go up from their 10-win season a year ago.

  • Forecast: New OC Charlie Weis Jr. spearheaded a USF offense last year that rushed the ball 58.7% of the time (45th highest nationally). That was partly due to QB limitations, but Weis will bring a similar philosophy to Ole Miss. Dart has yet to prove he’s a world-beater– though expectations tell you he is– and the Rebels will likely want to lean into the ground game against the gauntlet of SEC West pass rushes.

Alabama Crimson Tide ()

Incoming roster score/transfer score: 326.98/59.31

The Tide are ranked sixth in 247Sports’ transfer rankings. Why include them here? The top four classes signed an average of 16.5 players in their transfer class– Alabama signed five.

It’s not breaking news to say that Nick Saban worked college football’s newest feature to perfection. Instead of overhauling their entire roster like USC or bringing in a new crop of skill positions from all over like Ole Miss, Alabama brought in a few key contributors that will see action from Day 1. Their most notable lands:

  • Georgia Tech’s Jahmyr Gibbs (stepping in for Brian Robinson)
  • Georgia’s Jermaine Burton (stepping in for any of the departed WRs)
  • LSU’s Eli Ricks (filling a hole in an underperforming secondary from 2021)
  • Vanderbilt’s Tyler Steen (stepping in for Evan Neal)

Each transfer landed by Saban and Alabama, although few, has a very specific starting role for the team in 2021.

  • Forecast: Though Alabama’s class ranks sixth and other teams might have more guys that impact their season, the Crimson Tide’s transfer class will be the most impactful. Each player was carefully selected, almost like the NFL Draft, to fit very specific needs on the roster. An opposing coach said of Alabama, “If you’re sick of Bama, buckle up, because it’s going to be the longest season of your life.”

What Is The Impact Of The Transfer Rankings On Futures Odds?

The 2022 season will be an interesting case study because there’s no data on transfers and college football odds yet. This is 247Sports’ first year rating transfer classes as opposed to just recruiting classes. At season’s end, we’ll have our first set of data points that we can use when evaluating the transfer portal.

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Written by
Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons