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Caleb Williams leads talented crop of transfers who signed with Pac-12 schools

Feb 7, 2022

Last year, Cameron Rising, a transfer quarterback from Texas, earned the starting job early in the season and led Utah to its first-ever Rose Bowl appearance. Rising didn't begin his career in Salt Lake City—he joined the Utes before the 2020 season—but he will forever be a hero in the state of Utah.

With so many talented transfers signing with Pac-12 schools this offseason, another newcomer could follow in Rising’s footsteps in 2022. 

Ever since Lincoln Riley took over at USC, transfers have been flocking to Los Angeles to get a chance to play for the storied football program. The Trojans currently have the top transfer class in the country, according to 247Sports

Quarterback Caleb Williams stands out as a the top prize. Playing for Riley as an Oklahoma Sooner, Williams took over starting duties as a true freshman and finished the season with 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns, leading the Sooners to an 11-2 record.

The former five-star recruit put together a truly spectacular performance last October when he passed for over 400 yards and an astounding six touchdowns to lead Oklahoma past Texas Tech.

Wideout Mario Williams and cornerback Latrell McCutchin are also following Riley from Oklahoma to USC. Williams and McCutchin are both sophomores and former four-star recruits. 

The Trojans landed other names Pac-12 fans will be familiar with. After a historic four-year career at Oregon, Travis Dye is heading to USC as a grad transfer. The running back put together a monster 2021 season in Eugene, rushing for 1,271 yards and amassing 18 total touchdowns. Dye set an FBS record last October when he scored four touchdowns on four consecutive touches in the Ducks' win over UCLA.

USC also plucked running back Austin Jones (Stanford) and wide receivers Brendan Rice (Colorado) and Terrell Bynum (Washington) from other Pac-12 schools to surround Williams with plenty of weapons.

The Ducks don’t need to fret too much about losing Dye, however, as they are welcoming a host of talent via the transfer portal as well.

Christian Gonzalez, a star cornerback who played for Colorado last year, and Sam Taimani, a defensive lineman who played for Washington, will be key parts of the Ducks’ new-look defense. 

It isn’t hard to see why defensive players want to come to Oregon. New Ducks head coach Dan Lanning is known as a defensive wizard. His schemes as Georgia’s defensive coordinator led the Bulldogs to a national championship last season. 

As for the offense, former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix is also headed to Eugene. Nix amassed over 8,000 yards and 57 touchdowns during his Auburn career. He will compete for the starting job with Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield, though Nix might have the advantage since he worked with new Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham when they were both at Auburn in Nix's freshman season (2019).

Lanning is excited for the competition, telling the media,We were really clear with Bo, when you come here, there’s certainly an opportunity to compete, but we’re really excited about the guy we have on our roster as well. Excited to see the guys come in and compete and work.” 

Despite coming off an 1-11 season, Arizona brought in a highly-regard recruiting class that includes two stellar transfers.

Former two-star recruit wide receiver Jacob Cowing is returning to his home state after two seasons at UTEP. The Arizona native eclipsed 100 receiving yards in an astounding eight different games last season, finishing the season with 1,354 receiving yards, the ninth-most in FBS.

The reigning Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year will be suiting up for the Wildcats as well. Quarterback Jayden de Laura is heading south after an impressive season at Washington State. De Laura passed for a Pac-12-best 2,751 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2021. 

The Cougars can rest well knowing that they’re getting a star quarterback from the transfer portal of their own. 

Cameron Ward put up jaw-dropping numbers in one and half seasons at Incarnate Word, passing for 6,908 yards and 71 touchdowns. Ward was in hot demand once he entered the transfer portal but said he landed in Washington State because of the Cougars’ proven track record in developing NFL-caliber quarterbacks such as Drew Bledsoe and Gardner Minshew. 

Ward will also be reuniting with new Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris, who was his head coach last year at Incarnate Word. 

The California Golden Bears and Washington Huskies are also bringing in veteran quarterbacks to compete for the chance to start under center. Jack Plummer, the older brother of Arizona QB Will Plummer, is headed to Berkeley after starting parts of three seasons for Purdue, amassing over 3,405 yards and 26 touchdowns. 

Washington landed Indiana transfer quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who is reuniting with Kalen DeBoer, the new UW head coach who was Penix's offensive coordinator at Indiana in 2019 when Penix was 5-1 as the starter as a redshirt freshman before suffering a season-ending injury.

Speaking of past relationships, All-Pac-12 honorable mention linebacker Jackson Sirmon transferred from Washington to Cal, where his father Peter is the defensive coordinator. Sirmon actually forced the fumble in overtime of last year's Washington win over Cal.

After winning the Pac-12 Football Championship for the first time in school history, Utah isn’t done trying to improve its program. Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate is coming over after three years at Florida. Diabate will have a tall task, attempting to replicate some of the production from Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Devin Lloyd. But with a four-star pedigree and a sound Utah infrastructure, Diabate will be in position to succeed.

Interestingly enough, Diabate's first game as a Ute will be against his former team as Utah opens the 2022 season at Florida on Sept. 3.

All of these transfers will hit the field for their Pac-12 squads this fall. Until then, follow #Pac12FB and for all your Pac-12 football needs.