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CFF Transfer Targets - Part 2 (February 2023)
Here is a list of transfer players that are worth a look in your CFF re-drafts.
Note to reader. In this part of the series I feature two FCS players making the jump up to the FBS level. Full disclosure, these are not players that I would spend considerable draft capital on, rather I would stash these two as potential late round flyers. I welcome any feedback you might have on my ideas, writing style, format etc.
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Elijah Sarratt (James Madison)
WR Elijah Sarratt (6’2, 200) transferred to James Madison (JMU) after playing his freshman season at FCS school St. Francis (PA). Sarratt was extremely productive in his first year of college football for the Red Flash, catching 42 passes for 700 yards and 13 TDs. He also rushed 7 times for 47 yards. Sarratt played his final season of high school football at the Baltimore football factory otherwise known as St. Francis Academy, before committing to the FCS school of the same name.
Sarratt is transferring into a strong CFF system from last year, and the coaching staff that architected this system returns for 2023. Mike Shanahan, JMU OC since 2021, saw his team set single-season JMU passing records in yardage (3868) and passing TDs (43) in 2022. In the last four seasons, excluding the shortened Covid year, JMU has had at least one 1000 yard receiver and in 2021 JMU had two 1000 yard receivers in Kris Thornton and South Carolina transfer Antwane ‘juice’ Wells. In 2019, 5’9 175 pound slot receiver Brandon Polk led JMU in receiving with a 73-1159-11 stat line. This is a receiver friendly system and the opportunity is there for Sarratt to make his mark on this offence.
Two of the top three receivers of last year’s squad are gone. 1000 yard receiver Kris Thornton leaves behind a large production vacancy, and Terrance Greene jr. who caught 22 passes for 399 receiving yards and 2 TDs also departed the Dukes roster this offseason. Devin Ravenel, who tied Thornton for the most receiving TDs at 7 for JMU in 2022, has also left the squad.
Sarratt balled out as a freshman last year for St. Francis. I like transfers who have already been productive in their careers and even more so when they do it as freshmen. Sarratt’s track record of production combined with what this offence could be sets up nicely for 2023.
QB ‘Toddy Touchdown’ Todd Centeio moves on after a prolific season for the Dukes in 2022. Ironically, Centeio, an unheralded transfer himself last offseason, likely would have been the subject of one of these articles had they been around at the time. The Dukes replace Centeio with potentially another Transfer QB, Jordan McCloud, by way of Arizona and USF. I am intrigued by McCloud, he has had a relatively unproductive career so far and has bounced around just like Centeio did prior to transferring to JMU. In this system he could pick up where Centeio left off… I mean, that would be great right? We don’t even know who will be the starter at this point though, so an obvious concern is who will be throwing Sarratt the ball next season and how effective they will be.
Reggie Brown was JMU’s WR2 by yardage in 2022 (24-401-4 receiving). A product of Lakeland, FL, Brown had his moments last year and his familiarity with the system could end up being the reason why he becomes WR1 instead of Sarratt. As noted previously however, the OC has achieved dual 1000 yard receivers in a single season before, so Brown nailing down WR1 is not necessarily the nail in the coffin for our guy Sarratt.
As with all players making a jump up in level of competition there needs to be concerns about how well Sarratt’s ability will translate to the next level. I’m encouraged by the fact that he was a freshman last season and balled out immediately, that gives me hope that Sarratt was simply a misevaluated and under recruited player who is now at a level more suited for his skillset, but we don’t know that at this point, and there is not a long track record of FCS WRs coming up to the G5 level and producing immediately, so there is risk there.
Although many of the top receivers of last year’s squad are gone, JMU brought in a bevy of transfers at WR. I’ve selected Sarratt to highlight based on his past production as a freshman, but it could be one of the other transfers that becomes JMU’s WR1 too. Let me be on the record now saying there’s another transfer player that I am intrigued by, Omarion Dollison (5’9, 180), who played with JMU’s latest transfer QB at USF in 2020. I like that Dollison fits the Thornton/Polk mold in terms of size and he would most likely play that same position in the offence if he starts. The familiarity with the QB and role could have Dollison leading the Dukes in receiving this season. You’re probably thinking well then why didn’t I feature him in this article instead! I will be writing an article about the JMU offence as a whole at a later time, so stay tuned for that.
Side note. I like Sarratt at a cheap price, there is ambiguity here when assessing this WR room for 2023, at least at this point in time. If a name doesn’t emerge in the spring, a wise draft strategy may be to wait for someone else to draft a JMU WR first, whether that be Brown, Sarratt, or someone else, and then pick up the next guy at a lower cost. Sarratt’s probably worth a late-round flyer in a re-draft, this is not a player I would spend considerable draft capital on.
Andrew Armstrong (Arkansas)
WR Andrew Armstrong (6’4, 190) transfers to Arkansas by way of FCS Texas A&M-Commerce. In 2022, his fourth year of CFB, Armstrong caught 62 passes for 1020 yards and 13 TDs. Like Sarratt, Armstrong is an FCS superstar moving up to a higher level of competition. Though not exactly the same, in Armstrong’s case he’s moving up to probably the highest level of CFB there is. He was productive at the FCS level, can he be CFF relevant in the SEC? Let’s examine some arguments.
The last highly productive WR at Arkansas was Treylon Burks in 2021 (66-1104-11 receiving and 14-112-1 rushing). Unfortunately, the OC at the time- Kendall Briles, has moved on to TCU. Lucky for us his replacement Dan Enos produced some strong CFF pass offences at Maryland the last two seasons. In 2021, Dontay Demus, another taller receiver (6-4, 213), was on his way to a productive season for Maryland, catching 28 passes for 507 yards and 3 TDs in 5 games before going down with a broken leg to end his season. His teammate, Rakim Jarrett, finished that season catching 62 passes for 829 yards and 4 TDs. In the two seasons where Enos was the OC, Maryland’s starting QB Taulia Tagovailoa attempted 474 and 391 passes. Safe to say the Arkansas O is going to be throwing the ball around in 2023.
The starting QB for Arkansas, KJ Jefferson, returns for another season. As mentioned earlier, Burks was the last high-end CFF WR to come through Arkansas, and you can guess who the QB was. Yes, KJ’s been around for a little while. That’s a good thing for us, we can check off the QB box from our list of concerns.
The top two WRs from last year’s squad are leaving. Matt Landers, whom I’m quite familiar with from his days at UGA, had a very productive season last year, catching 47 passes for 901 yards and 8 TDs. Coincidently he is of the same mold of receiver as Armstrong, listed at 6’5, 213 pounds. Another encouraging sign knowing the same QB will be throwing Armstrong passes this upcoming season. Their next most productive receiver in 2022, another one I’m familiar with- Jadon Hasselwood, a one time UGA commit (for those interested, I have a side story below providing some historical context about Hasselwood’s recruitment), caught 59 passes for 702 yards in 2022. So there is a lot of production vacating the roster and someone is going to have to step up and catch some of these deep shot TD passes, why not Armstrong?
Armstrong has a history of strong production at his last stop. He redshirted his first year in 2019, and then COVID canceled Texas A&M Commerce’s season in 2020. In 2021 he caught 15 passes for 297 yards and 3 TDs, a humble stat line before going apeshit in 2022, becoming Commerce’s first 1000+ yard receiver since 2014 and catching 13 TD passes.
Armstrong is making a big jump up in competition level. Sarratt chose an easier route, transferring to a G5, and a fairly strong G5 at that. Armstrong on the other hand will be playing for a middle-of-the-road SEC school. In some roundabout way we can rationalize this concern as Arkansas should at least be trailing some games and passing often. From an individual standpoint however, one does have to wonder how well Armstrong can translate to this level of competition.
Arkansas has a very talented tailback returning and a former offensive line coach at the head coaching position (we still miss Pittman at UGA). OC aside, I think this team is still going to want to pound the rock with Raheem Sanders, and to be fair to Enos, he runs a pretty balanced offence too. Maryland’s leading rusher last year ran 188 times for 989 yards and 10 TDs, the next leading rusher 76 times for nearly 400 yards. Arkansas will be throwing it plenty, but this is not Western Kentucky. I think for Armstrong to be successful, he is going to have to make the most of his opportunities on deep shots off play-action. Full disclosure, this profile of WR is really not my type in CFF, but he could be a valuable late round asset in non-PPR leagues especially.
Arkansas also brought in another standout WR in the transfer portal, Tyrone Broden, by way of Bowling Green. Broden is also a larger WR, listed as 6’4, 200 pounds on Fantrax, and has already had some productive seasons at a higher level than Armstrong. Broden could end up filling that big-bodied WR1 role in this offence instead. It is for this reason that I’d recommend (until further notice) you do not draft Armstrong any higher than a late round flyer this summer if you’re investing in this offence.
Unrelated-to-CFF side note. Former Arkansas WR, Jadon Hasselwood, 2019’s highest rated WR according to 247 sports was indeed at one point committed to UGA. Given what the offence was at the time, one has to wonder what exactly Cortez Hankton, then UGA WRs coach, was telling Jadon and his family. Things unraveled eventually as Lincoln Riley flipped Hasselwood’s commitment to the Sooners later in the cycle.
Luckily for the dawgs, the coaching staff were also recruiting another receiver as a backup plan in the neighbouring state of Alabama. The receiver, a 6’3 alien with a penchant for making spectacular one-handed catches, was drawing national attention at the Yellowhammer blue blood, Hoover High, but was a heavy Auburn lean throughout his recruitment.
Kirby and his boys pulled out some magic and secured the Hoover star’s commitment at the 11th hour on signing day, melting several Auburn coaches’ and fans’ faces in the process. That player’s name was George Pickens. Hasselwood would go on to have a relatively uninspiring career at OU before transferring to Arkansas, while GP showed up to UGA day one doing stuff like this. I suppose as a dawgs fan I should take this moment to thank Lincoln Riley for how that turned out.
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