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CFF Monthly Round Up - April 2023
Summary of the notable events relating to CFF in April
The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
Gather in to the tavern, my friends. In today’s ‘Monthly Round Up’, I will cover at a high level the notable headlines, rumblings, and quotable quotes in College Football and their relevancy to CFF. These will include spring/summer camp rumblings, notable transfer portal news, and injury/suspension events. I will also provide an overview of the content I have published over the month on the VP platform and on other platforms.
Before jumping in I want to take a moment to acknowledge the CFF community and the VP audience, the support and engagement two months into this deal has been outstanding. If you’re reading this I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to join us over at the Pig Pen.
If you missed the first article of this series in March, you can find it here:
In case you missed it
April was yet another prolific month on VolumePigs as we covered articles ranging from Fort Collins, CO to Jacksonville, FL. Some of the most popular articles of the month include:
I also wrote some articles with the Campus2Canton crew:
Fresno State WR ready to go VOLUME PIG mode in 2023: WR Josiah Freeman
The next great UGA TE is already making headlines: TE Lawson Luckie
Malik Hornsby is a potential VOLUME PIG in 2023: QB Malik Hornsby
Could this BGSU WR be a surprise VOLUME PIG in 2023: WR Odieu Hilaire
Notable spring camp rumblings
Former JAX State QB Zion Webb is reportedly still practicing with the team, despite his eligibility running out in 2022. Webb would be a 7th year grad student if he were to gain eligibility for 2023. If Webb’s application to the NCAA is accepted, that would mean QB Te’Sean Smoot is unlikely to start in 2023.
Minnesota transfer WR Elijah Spencer had a monster spring game. Spencer caught 11 passes for 133 yards and a score. While we want to take what we see in spring ball with a grain of salt, my interest is piqued here. There have been some highly productive WRs under head coach PJ Fleck in the past, including the likes of Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson, who both went over 1000 yards in 2019. Something to note is that WR Chris Autman Bell was unavailable in the spring game, creating more opportunity for Spencer to shine.
Penn State QB Drew Allar is having a strong spring and appears right where he should be as far as tracking into the starting QB position for 2023. The Penn State staff appear quite high on him.
Penn State rFR slot WR Kaden Saunders is reportedly also having a strong offseason. He is a possible starter in the slot role of OC Mike Yurcich’s offence this fall, a role in which previous slot WR Paris Campbell produced over 1000 yards receiving while Yurcich served as pass game coordinator at Ohio State.
WR Marvin Harrison Jr. is reportedly seeing some reps from the slot during spring camp. This is likely just to expand his repertoire, but it is still an interesting development. In the event that Egbuka were to be unavailable, MHjr in the slot could allow both Fleming and Ballard to play the boundary roles, which they are more suited too. Playing in the slot could also allow MHjr to see a higher percentage of the target share.
The word out of Columbus is that TE Gee Scott is currently in a battle for the TE1 position. OSU’s seen several of its TEs end up in the NFL in the past, but there haven’t been many highly productive assets to come through that room. Scott is more of a hybrid TE/WR than a classic in-line TE, though, and he could carve out a nice role for himself in 2023.
Wisconsin transfer WR CJ Williams reportedly had a strong performance in the spring game. Williams caught at least two TDs, one going for over 45 yards and another on a one-handed catch for 20 yards. He originally began camp working with the twos, but has since elevated to the first team. As mentioned above, you can find my breakdown of Wisconsin’s offence here.
While on the topic, fellow Wisconsin transfer WR Will Pauling has been drawing buzz since he arrived from Cincinnati. Here is an excerpt from a local report: Pauling has reportedly been the biggest surprise in the wide receiver room this spring and is seemingly in a good spot to claim a starting spot as the spring session winds down. The coaching staff has reportedly emphasized getting the ball in his hands quickly, allowing Pauling to utilize his speed to make plays in space. That said, there is still a lot to settle over the summer and into the fall, but the early signs are promising.
Wisconsin transfer QB Tanner Mordecai is working with the ones, as expected. Mordecai has a big opportunity in 2023 under new OC Phil Longo. Longo’s QB1 Drake Maye was an elite CFF asset in 2022.
Washington WR Rome Odunze has been described as having a ‘monster’ camp from local reporters. This is not surprising, as Odunze is a dark horse candidate to win the Biletnikoff award this season. Still, these are the things you want to hear about a player like Odunze headed into the summer. I will be doing coverage of UW’s offence in a future article.
Indiana transfer WR E.J. Williams is reportedly having a strong spring for the Hoosiers. It sounds like the former Clemson pass catcher is taking advantage of the increased opportunity with WR Cam Camper still healing from an ACL injury. Camper was extremely productive prior to injury last season, if he were to miss time in 2023, Williams could be a sneaky value.
Arkansas’ true freshman TE Luke Hasz is already making headlines in spring. It sounds like he is already in line for a starting position, and could be a big contributor for the Razorbacks this fall in Trey Knox’s absence.
Maryland transfer WR Tyrese Chambers had a strong performance in the spring game, catching two TDs and 37 yards receiving. He was named the spring game MVP. A lot of production vacated the Maryland roster this offseason, as the Terps’ top three WRs from 2022 are no longer with the program; so there is plenty of opportunity for new faces to make a name for themselves. Chambers has already been CFF relevant in the past at FIU, this move could see his CFF stock sky rocket with returning QB Taulia Tagovailoa.
Texas Tech transfer WR Drae McCray is reportedly working on the boundary in Zach Kittley’s offence. The slot position of this system has been a coveted position ever since Jerreth Sterns’ astronomic season in 2021. It sounds like WR Myles Price is still in poll-position to be the starter in that role.
Spring game legend and Ole Miss TE Michael Trigg had another big performance in this year’s spring contest, catching 9 passes for 138 yards and a score. We’ve seen this song and dance before, so we shouldn’t get too excited. However, even though the Rebels brought in transfer TE Caden Preiskorn by way of Memphis, the staff have indicated that they plan to deploy double TE sets often this season. Trigg’s always been intriguing, and now with so many in the CFF community still feeling the effects of getting burned on him last year, he could be a good value as a mid-to-late-round pick in CFF drafts.
USC true freshman RB Quinten Joyner made some headlines in the spring game. Joyner had two big runs, and scored a 26-yard TD. It is not likely that he is a major contributor this season, but he could be a high-upside asset in the long term.
A pair of true freshman are making waves in Cincinnati’s spring camp. Dual threat QB Brady Drogosh and WR Barry Jackson both look like they could see the field sooner rather than later. The duo connected on a 40-yard TD in the spring game.
It sounds like the starting role for Texas Tech’s QB position is still unsettled, as both Tyler Shough and Behren Morton split snaps with the ones and twos. Neither appeared to have a strong performance in the spring game. This is troubling, as CFF managers know the potential of this offence from a production standpoint. Evidently, Kittley is struggling to find his next Bailey Zappe. my take is that until the QB position has some clarity, I am discounting their WRs in my valuation for CFF drafts.
Notre Dame true freshman WR Jaden Greathouse had a monster spring performance, catching 11 passes for 118 yards. I agree with Marchese’s analysis here:
Speaking of, former ND WR Lorenzo Styles has reportedly transferred to OSU and will be playing DB.
North Texas (UNT) WR Jyaire Shorter has entered the portal. Shorter had his moments while with North Texas under the previous coaching regime, and led the Mean Green in receiving TDs last season with 11 scores in 13 games. With his departure, fellow WR Roderic Burns could see an increased role in what is a very intriguing offence under new head coach Eric Morris. I provide extended coverage on the North Texas offence here.
Another UNT skill player is transferring this offseason, as TE Var’Keyes Gumms has officially transferred to Arkansas. Gumms was fairly productive at UNT, and with Arkansas’ TE1 Trey Knox moving on, he could fill into a nice production vacancy. I like this landing spot.
Nebraska and former Texas QB Casey Thompson is in the portal. He is reportedly considering FAU and Auburn. His former coach from Texas, Tom Herman, is now the coach at FAU. Herman’s offences have been elite in CFF in the past, and if Thompson were to decide on FAU look for a player like La’Johntay Wester at WR to see a huge increase in potential CFF value. I wrote about Wester here.
Houston RB Alton McCaskell is in the portal. McCaskell’s been CFF relevant in the past, and so he is an interesting one to monitor for landing spot. Some early speculation has pointed to Colorado.
Colorado WRs Jordan Tyson and Montana Lemonious-Craig (MLC) have both entered the portal. These moves are a bit curious, while the Colorado staff has churned through the majority of the roster in hopes of upgrading the talent level, Tyson and MLC figured to be key contributors on the team next season. Tyson led the Buffaloes in receiving in 2022. MLC had a big spring game.
ND RB Logan Diggs is in the portal. Diggs led the Fighting Irish last season with over 800 yards rushing and 4 TDs. Could this move be a sign he wants to be a bell-cow somewhere else? If so, he could be an interesting one to monitor for landing spot. I’d be highly interested if he were to downgrade a level to the MAC — though, it seems unlikely that he would do so after a highly productive season at the P5 level.
Former five-star OSU WR Caleb Burton has entered the portal. Burton was a member of the 2022 class and is originally from Texas. It would not surprise me to see him return to the lone-star state. This is an interesting one to monitor, as we’ve seen in the past that transferring out of OSU’s WR room does not necessarily mean Burton is not an elite player (e.g., Jameson Williams).
Another OSU player from the 2022 class, WR Kaleb Brown entered the transfer portal. Like Burton, Brown was a highly rated recruit. That entire 2022 WR class for OSU seems unlikely to ever see the field with the Buckeyes. Keep an eye out for 2022 OSU WR Kojo Antwi to eventually transfer as well.
With Alabama’s QB struggles, they have reportedly reunited former ND OC Tommy Rees with ND QB Tyler Buchner. Buchner was a highly decorated recruit coming out of high school, but did not look likely to start this season with Sam Hartman’s transfer. His CFF outlook is higher with this move, but I don’t know if it a major upgrade for Alabama over the options currently on roster.
UTSA WR Zakhari Franklin is in the portal. Franklin was a CFF stud in 2022, and was a highly rated player coming into this season. His former OC Will Stein is now with the Oregon Ducks. While on the surface that may seem an ideal match, I would prefer a different landing spot as his inclusion in the Ducks’ WR room would make a crowded unit, and could potentially jeopardize both of the Franklins’ (Zakhari and Troy) CFF value.
An under the radar move this offseason is Iowa RB Gavin Williams’ move to NIU. Williams was likely going to be RB2 behind Kaleb Johnson in the Hawkeyes offence in 2023. NIU’s leading RB last season Harrison Waylee has moved on to Wyoming, leaving only Antario Brown as Williams’ primary competition. I also like this move from the standpoint of Kaleb Johnson’s CFF outlook in 2023.
Minnesota WR Michael Brown-Stephens has transferred to USF. USF’s offence figures to be exciting this season under former Tennessee OC Alex Grinch. I talk about their upcoming superstar QB Byrum Brown here.
Speaking of, USF WR and former Clemson Tiger Ajou Ajou is in the portal.
Texas WR Brennan Thompson has transferred to Oklahoma. I will be covering the OU WR room in greater depth on a future VP article.
Minnesota and former Texas A&M WR Dylan Wright has transferred to TCU. Wright was a standout high school player and still retains high upside as a CFF prospect. With a more pass-friendly and explosive offence, he could provide some strong production in 2023 or 2024.
TCU WR Jordan Hudson is in the portal. Hudson was also a standout high school player and SMU was where he originally verbally committed to during his cycle. Hudson enters into what has traditionally been an explosive pass offence under Rhett Lashlee and could torch the competition at the G5 level in 2023 should he end up with the Mustangs.
UCF QB Thomas Castellone transferred to Boston College. There were many former UCF ties at Boston College, so this move makes sense. The significance of this move is that he is not going to Texas State. So the Malik Hornsby dream is still alive.
Liberty RB Dae Dae Hunter is in the portal. His former coach is now at Auburn, perhaps this a move he is considering? Hunter’s been CFF relevant in the past, so it will be important to monitor the landing spot. Fingers crossed he stays in the G5.
Cincinnati QB Ben Bryant is in the portal. Bryant does not fit the skill set the new staff typically gravitate towards, and so this move is not that surprising. It clears the runway for former Arizona State and Florida QB Emory Jones, who I wrote about here.
Utah State WR NyNy Davis has transfered to ULM. Davis has had his moments with the Utah State offence, which makes him intriguing. I am not that excited about the landing spot.
BYU WR Kody Epps entered the transfer portal. Epps was productive in several games during the 2022 season. This will be one I am tracking for landing spot. On the flip side, at least that BYU WR room is opening up a bit. Chase Roberts and Keanu Hill will likely be the biggest beneficiaries of Epps’ departure. I will be writing an article on this room very soon.
Akron and former Minnesota RB Cam Wiley is in the portal. The Akron offence figures to be high octane this season, with the WRs and QB drawing most of the attention amongst CFF managers. Fellow Akron RB Clyde Price had some big games last season, his value is now higher with Wiley out of the picture.
In a move that I like, Virginia Tech RB Keyshawn King is transferring to WMU. The Broncos lose their top two RBs from a season ago, and so King could see some nice usage in 2023. He is a potential VP article candidate in the near future.
ODU QB Hayden Wolfe has entered the portal. The ODU offence is going to be explosive under its new OC in 2023. The new staff brought over a former Fordham QB with them to ODU. The ODU starting QB position is a situation worth monitoring if you’re a CFF manager. I explain why here.
Texas A&M and former UTEP WR Tyrin Smith is entering the portal. It is speculated that he will be returning to UTEP for 2023. His CFF profile took a hit this offseason with his move to College Station, with the Miners he is back in play as a top CFF commodity.
FCS standout WR Javon Antonio is in the portal. Antonio was a prolific player in the FCS ranks, catching 64 passes for 684 yards and 6 TDs in 11 games with Northwestern State. He is a large framed boundary receiver at 6’4, 220 pounds. Landing spot will be key here for assessing CFF value.
Texas State and former Arkansas State QB Layne Hatcher has transferred to Ball State.
Nebraska RB Ajay Allen is in the portal. Allen played in only four games last season as a true freshman. He ran for 190 yards and 2 scores in four games. I am somewhat interested in the landing spot.
Recent Colorado transfer TE Seydou Traore has entered the portal. I wrote a piece on Traore in March, while the system was always a poor fit, I was hoping he could see some usage as a big WR. Traore visited Utah before committing to CU, so this could be a likely designation. You can find my previous write up here.
Purdue WR Milton Wright has entered the portal. Wright was supposed to be the heir apparent in the Jeff Brohm WR room in 2022, but was academically ineligible. With the new staff in town, it seems like he is opting for a clean start. He flashed often in the 2021 season as the WR2 behind David Bell.
Michigan State WR Keon Coleman and QB Peyton Thorne have entered the portal. Tuck comin? This is a bad look for MSU’s offence in 2023. On the bright side, maybe they lean run heavy; the problem is, it looks like a committee in the backfield. I am not very interested in Thorne, but Coleman has some fans amognst the CFF community which tells me I should pay attention.
Notable injury & suspension news
USC RB/WR Raleek Brown’s transition to WR has reportedly been slowed this spring, as he’s been nursing an ankle injury.
Indiana WR Cam Camper is still recovering from an ACL injury and has missed most of the spring. He is expected to be ready for the 2023 season.
Texas WR Isaiah Neyor is now practicing with the team as he recovers from a torn ACL in 2022.
Memphis RB Brandon Thomas will miss spring camp. The Memphis backfield is crowded headed into 2023, with Thomas, ODU transfer Blake Watson and former NIU RB Jeyvon Ducker.
Oregon TE Terrance Ferguson will miss spring camp. With new OC Will Stein, Ferguson is an intriguing option for 2023.
Nebraska RB Anthony Grant was suspended in late march from spring activities. It sounds like he needed to improve his academic situation before returning to football. He has since returned to the team and is practicing. Grant was Nebraska’s leading rusher in 2022.
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