10 College Football Players We Wish Could Be Traded in 2014
There are a couple of ways around the NCAA's transfer policy, which requires athletes sit out one season after switching colleges. Graduate students are granted immediate eligibility, as are certain players who apply for a hardship waiver.
Unfortunately, there is no waiver for players we just want to see at a different program. There is no manual override for a trade that just makes sense on paper, that would make the upcoming season more entertaining to watch.
Trades like that pop into our minds all the time, however, forcing us to indulge hypotheticals such as this. Why can't that blue-chip recruit see the field sooner? What if that small-school star played in the SEC?
But this list did not include all of the best players from outside the power conferences. No matter their skill level, and no matter how much we would love to see them play against the best competition, a player was not considered if he is one of the leaders on a team with a realistic shot of making a College Football Playoff Bowl this season.
The list of players omitted under this clause includes: Shane Carden and Justin Hardy (East Carolina), Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler (Marshall), Deontay Greenberry (Houston), Chuckie Keeton and Kyler Fackrell (Utah State) and Derron Smith (Fresno State).
This was done because it doesn't seem right to wish a star player away from a team that could become this year's Central Florida. Blake Bortles wouldn't have been wise to leave last season…right?
Instead, we've highlighted 10 players whose change of school would make this season more objectively fun for college football fans, along with the ideal program we would want them to play for in 2014.
Sound off below with any other trades you can think of!
RB Terry Baggett, Army
Proposed Destination: Stanford
Stanford already holds a special place Terry Baggett's heart. He broke out with 112 yards on 10 touches when Army hosted (and surprisingly stayed close with) the Cardinal last season.
From there, Baggett, who was coming back from a knee injury that ended his 2012 season, took off. He ran for 125 yards against Wake Forest the following week, 143 yards against Louisiana Tech the week after and 304 yards against Eastern Michigan two weeks later.
Baggett is 6'0", 214 pounds, and as you can see from the picture above, his arms look like lead pipes with veins. His powerful, downhill running style fits perfectly what Stanford wants to do, and its unclear whom the Cardinal will turn to in replacing Tyler Gaffney this season.
The fact that Baggett's an Academic All-American doesn't hurt.
QB Max Browne, USC
Proposed Destination: LSU
I thought about giving Max Browne to Tennessee, which seemed perfect because the Vols know they're a year away, and Browne could spend the season getting his feet wet and learning to play with Marquez North, Von Pearson and Josh Malone before posting huge numbers in 2015. But then I thought about what might happen to Browne if he played in the SEC behind Tennessee's rebuilt offensive line, and, well, I wasn't even sure that he would make it to 2015.
So instead, let's give Brown to LSU, which doesn't have a glaring need under center the way Tennessee does but would love to get its hands on him nonetheless. Anthony Jennings (6'2") and Brandon Harris (6'2") can both do fine in Cam Cameron's quarterback-friendly system, but neither fits the archetype of a Cameron signal-caller the way that Browne (6'5") does.
You know who fit that archetype? Zach Mettenberger (6'5"). So did Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco (6'6"). Like that pair of current pros, Browne is a tall, strong-armed pocket passer who can flick the ball down the field or fire it into tight spaces with accuracy.
The top-ranked quarterback in the 2013 class, Browne would have the protection of a veteran offensive line and the aid of underclassmen receivers such as Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn, Avery Peterson and John Diarse to learn and grow with in Baton Rouge.
Wouldn't that be better than wasting away behind Cody Kessler for one or (probably) two more seasons? If he stays at USC, there's a good chance Browne becomes draft-eligible before starting a game.
DT Christian Covington, Rice
Proposed Destination: North Carolina
Christian Covington belongs in a power conference.
At 6'3", 295 pounds, he has the ideal frame and skill set to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense…against anyone.
He also plays up to competition. Covington had at least two tackles for loss in each of Rice's games against power-conference opponents (Texas A&M, Kansas and Mississippi State) last season. His total in those contests (6.5) was more than he posted in the other 11 games (mostly against inferior offensive lines) combined!
Covington would be an ideal fit at North Carolina—a team with the skill players and pass-rushers to compete for an ACC championship but not enough size and experience along the lines. His ability to plug up holes would change the Tar Heels defense appreciably.
WR Devante Davis, UNLV
Proposed Destination: Missouri
Devante Davis is a big-bodied, 6'3" wide receiver with speed to get over the top. He finished last season with 87 catches for 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading UNLV to an improbable bowl game.
This year, however, he might find the going more difficult. Quarterback Caleb Herring is gone, and his replacement, Nick Sherry, did not look great when called upon last season. More double coverage and worse QB play is a bad statistical combination.
Davis would be the perfect addition at Missouri, which loses its three leading receivers: L'Damian Washington (6'4"), Dorial Green-Beckham (6'6") and Marcus Lucas (6'4"). Tall receivers with speed are what Maty Mauk is used to working with, and although Mizzou does have some options, none of them offer those things the way Davis does.
Among returning FBS players, only Sammie Coates of Auburn and Antwan Goodley of Baylor had more receptions of 30-plus yards last year than Davis (13). He is precisely what this offense needs.
CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
Proposed Destination: Georgia
Lorenzo Doss has made a name for himself despite playing in Conference USA the past two seasons, but even though Tulane is technically on the upswing (and moving to the AAC this season), it feels like he has maxed out his notoriety in the "group of five."
Which is a shame. Big conference or small conference, few players are more fun to watch than Doss, who had five interceptions as a freshman in 2012 and seven as a sophomore last year. Only Fresno State safety Derron Smith (13) has more during that span.
Doss' ball-hawking tendencies would fit in perfectly under Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who coached Florida State to an FBS-best 26 interceptions last season. And the Bulldogs definitely have the need in their secondary across from Damian Swann.
Doss would be an incredible option.
QB Cody Fajardo, Nevada
Proposed Destination: Arizona
Cody Fajardo is not the next Colin Kaepernick. He is not the same type of athlete, and he does not have the same type of arm strength.
But he is sort of Kaepernick-lite. At 6'2" with good speed and a reliable arm, he has run the Nevada offense about just as well.
Good speed and a reliable arm are precisely what Rich Rodriguez needs at Arizona. Experience—which Fajardo has—would be a bonus, too. The Wildcats have one of the five best receiving groups in America, but a crowded quarterback race that yielded few answers during spring practice makes it unclear whether that will go to waste.
Fajardo, at the very least, would give Arizona a quarterback it could count on. At the most, he could put up Matt Scott-type numbers.
It wouldn't take much convincing for the Wildcats staff to believe that, either. When Arizona played Nevada in the 2012 New Mexico Bowl, Fajardo passed for 256 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 140 yards and one touchdown, and led the Wolf Pack to 48 points. He also probably should have orchestrated an upset until UA scored two touchdowns in the final 46 seconds to win by the wild score of 49-48.
Tucson would embrace him with open arms.
QB Christian Hackenberg*
Proposed Destination: Louisville
At ease, Penn State fans.
The proposal here is more of a loan—the type you see in European soccer—than a full-fledged, permanent trade.
But why, you ask? Mostly the Penn State offensive line—a position group Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com said "has fewer guarantees" than any other in the Big Ten. Hackenberg will not get the blocking he needs to maximize his potential this season. Herb Hand is a fine O-line coach (and an even cooler dude), but he needs at least a year, if not more, to make this unit respectable.
It was noble that Hackenberg did not jump ship from Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky scandal and ensuing NCAA sanctions. He could have, and he didn't, and that's awesome. But assuming he leaves for the 2016 NFL draft (and why wouldn't he?), it means he'll only have one real season at the college level. Just one year where his team is bowl-eligible and his roster has the depth to compete.
So let's get him out of Happy Valley for the time being. He can come back his junior year, but for now, we'll loan him to Bobby Petrino at Louisville. Just think about the way he would be utilized!
Petrino's offense is famous for its vertical passing concepts, and the Cardinals have one of the deepest receiving units in the country, highlighted by 6'3" DeVante Parker. At his best, Hackenberg can be described as a rich man's Ryan Mallett, and Mallett threw for 7,493 yards and 62 touchdowns in two years under Petrino at Arkansas.
At Louisville, Hack would be a legitimate Heisman candidate for the 2014 season. He is, after all, the same age that Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston were when they won their respective Heismans. And unlike that duo, he played instead of redshirting his first season.
Penn State does not afford the same opportunity.
OL Cyril Lemon, North Texas
Proposed Destination: Michigan
Like Covington, Cyril Lemon is a power-conference lineman who happens, for whatever reason, to play in a lesser league.
At 6'3", 304 pounds, he has good dimensions for a guard and has even shown the ability to kick out to tackle. Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com said he "shows the strength and base to be a stout interior player" in the NFL, calling him "one of the more underrated senior offensive line prospects entering the season."
Having started 37 games for North Texas, Lemon would provide the experienced power run-blocker that Michigan so desperately needs. Kyle Kalis and Kyle Bosch were both highly regarded prospects, but they are only sophomores. Lemon is a senior. He has blocked against the likes of Alabama, LSU and Georgia during his career.
He is exactly what the Wolverines' run offense is looking for.
RB Terrence Magee, LSU
Proposed Destination: Kansas State
This would be a win-win for college football fans.
On the one hand, Terrence Magee would step right in and fill the biggest void on Kansas State's offense. The Wildcats have no proven option ready to replace John Hubert, and Magee, who averaged 7.28 yards per carry on 86 carries last season, would immediately step into the starting lineup. Together with quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett and offensive wizard Bill Snyder, he would help make KSU one of the more dangerous offenses in college football.
On the other hand, Magee's departure from LSU would free up touches for true freshman Leonard Fournette. Like, a lot of touches. Fournette is already in line for a decent workload, but there's no way he can approach the freshman numbers of Adrian Peterson—the player he's so often compared to—with Magee splitting the carries.
LSU would lose some important depth in this transaction. Tigers fans would not be true winners the way the rest of us would be.
But for the chance to see more of Fournette next season, I think most folks would be able to stomach it.
Kenny Hilliard can handle the backup duties.
LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
Proposed Destination: Wisconsin
Wisconsin is looking for a way to replace Chris Borland, one of the best linebackers (and overall players) in program history.
What made Borland so special wasn't physical gifts, however. It was a nose for the ball that was almost like a sixth sense and a work ethic so good that coaches used it like a lesson plan. According to Mike Hall of Big Ten Network, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said he used to bring young players on road trips as often as possible just "so they can watch how Chris Borland prepares."
There may never be another Borland in Madison, Wisconsin. But there is already a decent replacement for him out in Philly. Tyler Matakevich is a player whose instincts outweigh his tools (which is ostensibly how he ended up at Temple in the first place), but with 238 tackles through two seasons, you can bet some major programs regret passing on him. It's a shame that no one seems to be paying attention.
He would do well in the middle of Aranda's defense.
Note: All recruiting info courtesy of the 247Sports composite rankings
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT