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CFF Transfer Targets - Has Jay Norvell found his Cole Turner for 2023?
This recent TE transfer has my attention in Norvell's system
The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.
- Gordan Gecko, Wall Street (1987)
If you’re reading this article with an interest in CFF and you didn’t know the name Dallin Holker until just now, take it as a sign from the universe that you need to face plant that subscribe button right now. Here at VolumePigs, we strive to inform the reader about the lesser known players at smaller programs and (hopefully) provide some useful insights in the process. All the better if some chuckles can be had along the way too, right? Let’s dive in.
Dallin Holker is a 6’5 240 pound TE who transferred from BYU to the Colorado State Rams football program this offseason. His reason for leaving? He wanted to be featured in the offence more. Indeed, there is some credence to his complaint. At BYU he played behind TE Isaac Rex. The catch — Holker transferred after just three games into the season. While college football (CFB) purists may not like it, from a CFF angle I love it. Greed is good in this game, give me greedy players all day.
He started the 2022 season off with a bang, catching three passes for 39 yards and a tutty. He also ended his season strong (two games later) catching 5 passes for 38 yards. That might not sound like much but in 1-ppr formats these performances track to 12.9 and 8.8 points in each of those weeks and he did so as the TE2 at BYU. Those are solid numbers from the TE spot.
As with all transfers the exact motivations are not always clear, however in Holker’s case, there is enough information to piece together that he was looking to be the guy at TE next year for whichever program he chose. That leads naturally into the first segment of this article.
Coaching & System
Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell is an intriguing character. He has in the past described his offences as a basketball team — implying that he prefers his skill players to be tall and long. One of his former players TE Cole Turner embodies these traits to perfection.
In the 2021 offseason I hoarded shares of Cole Turner like he was toilet paper in the early days of COVID. He was who I considered TE1 for the 2021 season and I generally acquired him in the sixth rounds of drafts. Turner was an elite asset at TE, as he was the go-to player in the redzone for Norvell’s Nevada Wolfpack in 2020 and 2021. He paid me back handsomely, catching 62 passes for 677 yards and 10 TDs in 11 games.
I mention this only to illustrate the point that there is a precedent here of not just good — but elite CFF TE deployment in Norvell’s offence.
Like Gekko with Charlie Sheen’s character in the movie Wall Street (1987), I am envisioning that Norvell will respect Holker’s greed and take him under his wing, show him the ropes of what it means to be a volume pig.
Now, call me crazy, but I am imagining Norvell calling up Holker shortly after he entered the portal to give him his pitch, something that I imagine went like this:
The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, CFF re-drafts and CFB speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. We get you that 20 FPG average in 1-ppr formats while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I've still got a lot to teach you.
It’s a compelling pitch to any college football player and evidently Holker was no exception. Hopefully, Holker heard what he wanted to hear from Norvell in terms of usage, as this whole move makes little sense otherwise.
Of note, the Rams are a program with a recent history of great TE usage in Trey McBride who caught 90 passes for 1121 yards and 1(?) TD in 2021. I don’t think it takes a CFB sicko to get a chuckle out of that stat line. If we were talking about an NFL team, I might have suspected that McBride had a clause in his contract that promised a huge bonus if he scored a certain number of touchdowns, and that the organization had colluded to prevent him from reaching that threshold and earning said bonus.
As this is a collegiate program we’re talking about, I will just assume the reasonable thing which is the staff simply did not like him personally, professionally or even spiritually.
In all seriousness, that staff has moved on now and so the relevancy of McBride’s numbers is low to nonexistent. That doesn’t cancel out Norvell’s TE track record though, so I’m still in on Holker, hook in mouth, so to speak. Perhaps ironically, Holker looks to be more of the mold of McBride than the tall and lanky Turner, here is Holker during the 2021 season on a catch and run play (sorry, twitter just made a change where tweets cannot be embedded into Substack, the admins tell me they’re working on it).
Speaking of, why don’t we learn a little more about our man Charlie Shee… I mean Dallin Holker.
TE Dallin Holker - 6’5, 245
Holker signed with BYU in the class of 2018 over offers from Oregon State, Utah State, and Colorado State, among others. He showed immediate flashes of his high ceiling in the 2018 fall camp under offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes — in fact, he was a co-starter with former Freshman All-American tight end Matt Bushman in week one of his true freshman season.
After his freshman campaign, Holker served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Chile. As a sophomore, he returned for the 2021 season, recording 14 receptions for 200 yards.
In 2022, Holker was described by the BYU staff as one of the best players on the team and operated as TE1 during spring, while Isaac Rex was out with an injury he suffered during the USC game. As alluded to earlier, sources close to the program shared that Holker had wished to be more involved in BYU’s passing game and felt unsatisfied by his more limited role within the offence at the start of the season.
Apparently, the move caught the staff completely off guard, here is BYU OC Aaron Roderick’s comments shortly after Holker’s move:
Was I surprised? Very . . . I love Dallin, I love coaching him and I wish him all the best.
Really liked that kid and I was gutted.
Cleary the staff thought very highly of Holker, and planned for him to be an integral part of the squad. He was even named an alternate captain prior to the 2022 season.
I think it’s safe to say that Holker only scratched the surface of his potential at BYU. In his 29 career games, Holker recorded 42 catches for 521 yards and three touchdowns. Of note, however, he was having a pretty solid start to the 2022 season recording 9 receptions (10 targets) for 86 yards and a score as TE2 for BYU in three games. His 2022 numbers track to a 7.9 FPG average in 1-ppr leagues over three games.
Now, Holker finds himself in a system starved for a redzone threat and a head coach with a recent track record of elite TE utilization. While Cole Turner was slightly taller than Holker, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suspect that Holker can fill a similar role in this offence. It sounds like he’s already making waves in Fort Collins:
What's even more intriguing is that Tanner Arkin, one of Holker's competitors for the tight end spot, transferred to Illinois during the offseason. On top of that, star RB Avery Morrow is suspended indefinitely. Things are looking up for Holker’s opportunities, especially in the redzone.
Fun fact: Holker is #6 all time in Utah high school football history in single-season receptions with 102 in 2016 behind Puka Nucua’s 103 in 2018.
Could Norvell recreate that potent 2021 Nevada offence with Colorado State this season?
Some of the same ingredients are in the pot: Clay Millen is Carson Strong at QB, Tory Horton is Romeo Doubs, and… Dallin Holker is Cole Turner?
Okay, that’s probably a bit of wishful thinking. It’s unlikely in year two that Norvell will recreate the potency of that offence with the Rams, but there can still be solid value in Holker at TE. As always, there are some concerns to consider.
It remains to be seen how potent Norvell’s offence will be at Colorado State in year two. It’s hard to give a full valuation of Holker as even if he does secure an uncontested grip on the TE1 spot, will this offence be productive enough to support WR Tory Horton, possibly WR Justus Ross-Simmons, and TE Dallin Holker?
Will Holker be TE1? Although it makes little sense for him to transfer to another destination where he won’t be featured (given his motivations for doing so), we’ve seen sillier things happen in CFB before. In particular, one of his colleagues TE Jordan Williams is a 6’5 200 pound rising sophomore. One of the things that set Cole Turner apart was the fact that he was basically a big WR at Nevada. Williams sort of fits that mold more than Holker. Is it a cop out if at this point of the article I say something like: ignore everything I said about Holker and draft Williams if he’s TE1? Again, given Holker’s motivations for leaving BYU one has to think he is in for a starter role with the Rams in 2023.
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