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Grading CU’s Transfer Class

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

In the preseason, you can find a stat about a team to fit almost any narrative. If your team is high on “returning production”, that becomes your bellwether for determining success. If your team has a highly ranked recruiting or transfer class, that’s your ticket to future success.

For Buff fans, it’s easiest to point to CU’s Transfer Class ranking (No. 1 in the nation at Rivals; No. 8 at 247 Sports), or even CU’s overall 2024 Class rankings (No. 22 at 247 Sports; No. 26 at Rivals), as a model for seeing better days ahead for the Buffs under Coach Prime.

But there are those who will even question CU’s Transfer Class, citing CU’s losses in the Portal as a better means of overall grading of a roster. In a story put out this weekend, CBS Sports posted its “Net rankings and player totals“. Since I couldn’t figure out their means of calculation, I’ll quote them here:

The transfer portal can improve a program, but how do you really calculate who had the best cycle — and not just which teams landed the best 2024 transfer classes? There are a few ways to break things down and below we analyze the Power Four conferences by categories:

  • Net Rating Gain
  • Average Transfer Rating
  • Transfers In
  • Transfers Out

Why is it important to look at net rating gain? Not every team adds as much as it subtracts in the portal, so the math rarely matches in the ledgers. So, in an effort to simplify the problem and better evaluate teams as we enter the summer, we took the average rating of the players leaving each program — ratings via the 247Sports transfer rankings team — and compared it to the average rating of the players entering the program. We then distill that number to reach a net gain or net loss. 

The Big 12’s rankings …

TeamNet Rating GainAverage Transfer Rating (with transfers in/out)
5Kansas State1.487.131017
6West Virginia1.3786.691325
9Oklahoma State1.1886.88811
10Texas Tech1.1787.071623
12Arizona State0.6886.562929
15Iowa State0.0286.57722

So, even though CU had the most transfers coming in, and had the second-highest average rating of incoming transfer (second only to Utah), Colorado was only sixth-best in net rating gain.

Okay … That would only make sense if CU’s transfers going out the door were also highly rated, but the CBS article goes on to state: “Only 29.3% of Colorado’s departures landed at power programs”. 


So, here’s another way of looking at CU’s Transfer Class of 2024. Below is a list of CU Transfers from the Class of 2023 who came from FBS programs, and the 247 transfer rating assigned to each player (the same rating service purportedly used by CBS Sports, above):

  • WR Xavier Weaver … starter at South Florida, led the team in receptions for the past two seasons … three stars
  • LB Demouy Kennedy … played in five games at Alabama in 2022; mostly on special teams … four stars
  • CB Kyndrich Breedlove … played two seasons at Ole Miss; mostly on special teams … three stars
  • DE Jordan Domineck … played in all 13 games for Arkansas last season, no starts, with 34 tackles … three stars
  • DE Taylor Upshaw … played in all 14 games for Michigan, no starts, with 12 total tackles … three stars
  • RB Kavosiey Smoke … 1,583 career rushing yards at Kentucky, 20th all-time in program history … three stars
  • S Myles Slusher … Three seasons at Arkansas, played in 23 games, started in 15, had 93 total tackles … three stars
  • RB Alton McCaskill … Did not play in 2022 (torn ACL) … four stars
  • OF Yousef Mugharbil … two seasons at Florida, injured throughout. Never played for the Gators … three stars
  • K Jace Feely … Played in four games at Arizona State; four kickoffs; one PAT; one punt … two stars
  • DL Leonard Payne … A starter for Fresno State in 2021; played in ten games in 2022 with no starts … three stars
  • P Mark Vassett … Two-year starter for Louisville; set school record for average punt yardages in 2022 … three stars
  • TE Seydoe Traore … Earned honorable mention All-American and first-team All-Sun Belt Conference at Arkansas State … four stars
  • WR Jimmy Horn, Jr. … Played in 11 games with 37 receptions; all-conference kick returner for USF … four stars
  • OL Savion Washington … Saw action in 12 games at Kent State, including starting all 11 games in 2022 … three stars
  • LB Vonta Bentley … Played in all 13 games in 2022 at Clemson, registering 21 tackles … three stars
  • DE Taijh Alston … Played in all 12 games in 2022 at West Virginia, recording 18 total tackles … three stars

Now, this list does not include FCS transfers, which would include five-star All-Everything Travis Hunter and four-star quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

But, even taking into account the highly-rated FCS transfers, CU’s Transfer Class of 2023, over 50 strong, had:

  • One five-star prospect (Travis Hunter); and
  • Five four-star prospects: Shedeur Sanders; linebacker Demouy Kennedy; running back Alton McCaskill; tight end Seydoe Traore; and wide receiver Jimmy Horn

Now, let’s compare those apples with these apples. Below is CU’s 2024 FBS Transfer Portal class, with 2023 stats and 247 Sports transfer rating …

  • Come to CU from Power Four schools 
  • OL Ethan Boyd … Played in 12 games (three starts) at Michigan State … three star 247 transfer rating
  • CB RJ Johnson … Redshirt freshman at Arkansas … three stars
  • DB Savion Riley … Played in eight games (two starts) at Vanderbilt, playing 343 snaps … three stars
  • CB Colton Hood … Backup cornerback as a true freshman at Auburn … three stars
  • DL Tawfig Thomas … Played in 12 games, recording 12 tackles in 207 defensive snaps at Louisville … three stars
  • OL Zach Owens … Played sparingly for Clemson, preserving his redshirt season … three stars
  • RB Isaiah Augustave … Rushed for 202 yards on 35 carries as a true freshman at Arkansas … three stars
  • OL Payton Kirkland … Did not see action as a true freshman at Texas … three stars
  • RB Dallan Hayden … Rushed for 553 yards for Ohio State as a freshman; injured much of 2023 … three stars
  • DL Dayon Hayes … Started 11 games for Pitt; team-high 10.5 tackles for loss … four stars
  • TE Sam Hart … Played sparingly at Ohio State … three stars
  • DB DJ McKinney … Played in all 14 games for Oklahoma State … three stars
  • DL Anquin Barnes … Played sparingly at Alabama … three stars
  • DL Quency Wiggins … Played in nine games in two years at LSU … four stars
  • OL Tyler Johnson … Started 11 games for Houston; 703 snaps, one sack allowed … four stars
  • WR Terrell Timmons … Played in 12 games for NC State, with 11 receptions … three stars
  • DL BJ Green … Played in 12 games for Arizona State, with 11.5 tackles for loss; 2nd team all Pac-12 … four stars
  • Edge Keaten Wade … Played in 12 games for Kentucky, with 35 tackles … three stars
  • WR Cordale Russell … Played sparingly for TCU … three stars
  • DL Samuel Okunlola … Played in 11 games for Pitt, two starts, five sacks … four stars
  • QB Destin Wade … Redshirt freshman in 2023 at Kentucky … three stars
  • WR Will Sheppard … Started 12 games, led Vanderbilt with 684 receiving yards and eight touchdowns … four stars
  • DL Taurean Carter … Played in 12 games for Arkansas, with four starts and 25 tackles … three stars
  • QB Walter Taylor … Played sparingly for Vanderbilt … three stars
  • OL Kahlil Benson … Started 12 games for Indiana, gave up one sack in 424 snaps … four stars
  • Coming to CU from other FBS schools …
  • OL Rayyan Buell … Played in 12 games for Ohio, posting 30 tackles, including four sacks … four stars
  • LB Jaylen Wester … Played in 11 games (five starts) for Florida Atlantic; 55 tackles … three stars
  • Edge Nikhil Webb Walker … Played in 12 games (four starts) for New Mexico State; 25 tackles … three stars
  • OL Phillip Houston … Played in 12 games (11 starts) for Florida International … 651 snaps … three stars
  • WR LaJohntay Wester … First-team all conference WR for Florida Atlantic; All-American punt returner … four stars
  • OT Wyatt Hummel … Played in 12 games (12 starts) for Villanova; 30 career starts … three stars
  • DB Preston Hodge … Played in 13 games for Liberty (12-0 regular season); 48 tackles; two interceptions … four stars
  • OL Yakiri Walker … Played in 12 games for UConn; 797 snaps … three stars
  • LB Nikhai Hill-Green … Played in 11 games for Charlotte; 2nd-team All AAC; team captain … three stars
  • OL Justin Mayers … Played in 12 games (12 starts) for UTEP; one sack in 402 pass attempts … three stars

The totals:

  • No five-star prospects (again, we’re looking at transfers, so freshman offensive lineman Jordan Seaton doesn’t count in this analysis);
  • Ten four-star prospects (including seven coming to CU from Power Four programs)

So … according to CBS Sports, the CU Transfer Portal net rankings are only mediocre in the Big 12. But, if you use the same 247 Sports rankings for transfers that CBS is using, CU is bringing in ten four-star prospects this fall, while losing only two (running back Dylan Edwards and cornerback Cormani McClain).

My advice, take a few minutes to go through the above list of incoming transfers, and look at how much playing experience – and how much Power Four playing experience – Coach Prime and his coaches have brought to Boulder this off-season.

And make your own decisions about CU’s “Transfer Rankings” …


6 Replies to “Grading CU’s Transfer Class”

  1. I like the fact that a bunch of the o line has major amount of snaps at the p4 level. Still very worried about linebacker. Interested to see how running back goes. I so want to understand why the running back room emptied out. Did Flea tell everyone they were garbage and he was going to start the true freshman?

    1. I think that 247 New Transfer Ranking article is hot garbage, given you have 247 ranking CU 2-8th in the regular transfer portal through this off-season. On3 (not as good a service) they have CU #1 in Net and Transfer Rankings. Rivals only does the regular transfer rating–CU is #1 by a wide margin.

      Sure CU took and lost a bunch of guys, but that Net Transfer Rating lists overall transfer ranking quality (i.e. 87.43): CU comes in 2nd in B12. ACC they would be 4th. B1G a Super-league they slot 9th. I would think with more quantity + quality that would move you up the Net, not way down. I think there has to be a hidden deduction based on the # of transfers then meshing them together, but that can’t be “Net Ranking.”

      If you did Roster evals, they have to rise in that category.

      We did not get the Lundy style star ILB we might have desired, but CU did get a bunch of promising additions with more size and experience/stats. Jaylon Wester had an excellent PFF grade. Cheney sounds like he could be, Webb too. Also barring injury, we probably fill one spot, as it sounds like Bentley is primed and ready. If the Dline is better, that may make life much easier for the LB position.

      I think RB room came down to the changes in offensive scheme and spring ball. I think it will be both more pro-style, SS could spend some time under center and they desired different style of backs. There were the Welsh accolades and Offerdahl #2 comment at the close of Spring. Hayden signed thereafter and others too. I do think CU preferred to keep DE and have some packages for him, he probably saw some role limitations compared to last year. Also, L. Wester will be doing the bulk of returning. If DE wanted to line up outside, CU’s WR room is loaded. With McCaskill, he wanted to be the #1 guy and given injuries did not meet that goal. As things shook out, I wonder if Hank the Tank ever has had 2nd thoughts?

  2. More copy and paste “analysis” about CU. How astute of Lindy’s to conclude that Travis and Sheduer have to stay healthy for Buffs to go bowling.

  3. Honestly CBS sports analysis is horrible. Just go back and look at there NCAA BB tournament selection predictions. It’s terrible compared to other sports analysts. They barely scratch the surface while others go far more in depth and therefore have much better results.

  4. sorry but the star rating system fails almost as much as it succeeds. I went through the first list of the first transfers and quit after that. The following is how I feel some of the ones I am familiar with starred out then panned panned out:
    Kennedy 4 star……2 star
    Domineck 3 star…..4 star
    Smoke 3 star….2 star (blowing smoke)
    McCaskill came in as a 4 star but due to injuries and the pisspoor O scheme he shouldnt be mentioned
    ditto for Mugharbil who I dont think ever saw the field
    Traore 4 star…..2 star, might become a 3 star WR elsewhere but masquerading as a TE begging to get injured.
    Bentley 3 star…. 4 star.
    Bottom line the off season ranking frenzy is mostly crap. You cant predict what these players are going to do in a new situation, Not only that but coaching decisions have an impact as well. So just sit back, go for a hike, go fishing, have a bbq, play golf if you have to and then start ranking on practice reports and actual games when they come around. These sports writers twisting themselves into pretzels with their convoluted formulas are a waste of time.

  5. The most important stat of all is 81 days, 8 hours and 51 minutes until 8/29 at 6 pm at the time posting this comment.

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