College football transfer portal: Florida, Oklahoma among teams with ex-FCS standouts to watch in 2024 season

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Though the casual college football fan may not pay much attention, there is a ton of talent in the Football Championship Subdivision. The transfer portal has allowed those players to take a chance and move to a higher level, offering more exposure at prominent programs. 

Since the advent of the portal, several FCS players have found starting roles on power-conference programs. Some have even taken things further, parlaying the transfer portal into NFL Draft success. 

Just look at Florida State’s Jared Verse, who began his career at Albany. He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC selection in both of his two seasons as a Seminole, with 18 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss in that span. The Los Angeles Rams saw the work Verse put in at Florida State and selected him with the 19th overall pick in April’s draft. 

But Verse wouldn’t have made it that far if his stock hadn’t first risen at Albany. As coaches lean more and more on the transfer portal, and NCAA regulations make transferring easier, a flurry of players are trying to follow in Verse’s footsteps. 

Here’s a few FCS-to-FBS transfers worth keeping an eye on during the 2024 season, now that both the winter and spring windows have passed.

Former school: Idaho | 247Sports Rating: 93 

The 5-foot-11 and 185-pound Harris was a starter in 24 games over the last two seasons at Idaho, tallying five interceptions and 24 pass breakups in that span. Harris is a smart player that rarely seems out of position and is often in the right spot to make a play. His 36 career pass breakups are an Idaho record. He’s also a willing tackler, with 51 stops and 5.5 tackles for loss — a career high — from the 2023 season. 

Former school: Penn | 247Sports Rating: 92

Penn just has a knack for churning out power conference-caliber defensive linemen. After Jake Heimlicher transferred to UCLA a year ago, Slackman followed a similar path by breaking out in 2023 and parlaying his success into a spot on Florida’s roster. The 2023 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, Slackman led his team and finished second among Ivy League defenders with 12 tackles for loss and totaled four sacks while wrecking the interior of opposing offensive lines. At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Slackman comes ready made to hold up in the SEC trenches. 

Former school: Weber State | 247Sports Rating: 91 

Kelly’s 6-foot-2 and 235-pound frame might be slightly undersized, but that’s never really held him back. All he did at Weber State was stuff the stat sheet, emerging as one of the team’s best defenders while consistently wreaking havoc in the backfield. He led the entire Big Sky Conference with 10.5 sacks last season, bringing his career total to 16.5. Now just a redshirt junior, he’s still got plenty of eligibility to grow with BYU and help the Cougars establish themselves as they continue to acclimate to the Big 12. 

Former school: North Dakota | 247Sports Rating: 90

Kilty will play offensive tackle at Kansas State, but he truly could play wherever the Wildcats need him. He graded out as one of the best pass blockers at the FCS level last season while starting all 12 games at left tackle. Kilty has gotten significant snaps at every single position along the offensive line except center: he started one game at right guard in spring 2021, three games at right tackle and eight at left guard in fall 2021, and 12 games at right guard in 2022 before finally landing at left tackle. That kind of versatility is hard to find, particularly from such a seasoned transfer. 

Former school: New Hampshire | 247Sports Rating: 90 

A second-team FCS All-American and Walter Payton Award finalist in 2023, Brosmer led the FCS in passing yards (3,464), passing yards per game (313.6) and total yards per game (525) last season. He also boasted an impressive 29 touchdowns to just five interceptions while leading New Hampshire to a 6-5 record. Minnesota hasn’t had great quarterback play since Tanner Morgan’s breakout 2019 campaign, so Brosmer brings some much-needed excitement to the position. If his game can translate to a sharp increase in competition, Minnesota’s offensive ceiling is higher than it has been in quite some time. 

Former school: Albany | 247Sports Rating: 90 

Verse was taken off the board early in the 2024 NFL Draft, and it’s not outlandish to say that Juncaj could follow a similar path as his Albany predecessor. The 6-foot-3 and 275-pound Juncaj led all players at the FCS level with 15 sacks last season, accruing first-team All-American honors while helping Albany to the FCS playoff semifinals. His 21.5 tackles for loss ranked third nationally, and he forced a whopping five fumbles, showing a proclivity for going after the ball when closing on quarterbacks. If he can come even remotely close to that level of production while playing in the SEC, his name will skyrocket up draft boards. 

Former school: William & Mary | 247Sports Rating: 90 

Pius is arguably the most accomplished player on this list. He’s a two-time first-team All-American, a former Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year and the only player named to the 2023 preseason Butkus Award Watch List. He only played in 11 games last season and still managed 16 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. His 1.5 tackles for loss per game led the CAA and ranked 10th nationally. NFL executives already have their eyes on Pius, so you probably should, too. 

Former school: Southeastern Louisiana | 247Sports Rating: 90 

Upside is the name of the game with Sharp. He didn’t even start every game for Southeastern Louisiana last season, and yet he became one of the most sought-after tight ends in the transfer portal when he entered. What he showed during his 11 appearances reveals why: Sharp caught 29 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 133 yards and five touchdowns. Southeastern Louisiana used Sharp all over the field, from running back to outside receiver. How the Sooners choose to employ his versatility will be fun to watch. 

Former school: Monmouth | 247Sports Rating: 90 

Is it possible for the FCS’ leader in receiving yards to be underrated? Miller didn’t generate a ton of buzz upon entering the portal despite the fact he had 1,293 yards and nine touchdowns a season ago. Miller isn’t the most well-rounded receiver, but he is much faster than just about any player he lines up against. His extensive track background is evident anytime he touches the ball. To condense his game into one sentence: Miller takes an inch of space and turns it into a mile. His best work comes on short passes that allow him to utilize that elite speed and race around defenders. He should be the perfect fit for a Rutgers offense that loves to work the underneath game and will be a reliable target for new starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis. 

Former school: Harvard | 247Sports Rating: 89 

Players that leave a prestigious institution like Harvard are really betting on themselves. But Griffith has already caught the attention of scouts and decision-makers at the NFL level, as evidenced by the fact that he earned a spot on the Senior Bowl Watch List entering the 2023 campaign. What followed was a season in which he amassed 55 tackles, 11 for a loss, and 3.5 sacks while anchoring Harvard’s interior. While his 6-foot-2 height may seem a tad undersized, it does allow him to gain leverage against offensive linemen and plug running lanes effectively. As with other defensive linemen on this list, strong play at the power-conference level will serve to increase his preexistent NFL profile. 

Former school: Gardner-Webb | 247Sports Rating: 88 

French’s size — he’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds on West Virginia’s roster — may limit his NFL potential as a true edge rusher prospect, but he has a proven track record of dominance in college. He holds Gardner-Webb’s career records for sacks (34.5) and tackles for loss (61). He had at least 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks in each of the past three seasons while averaging just under 1.5 tackles for loss in 41 total appearances. West Virginia is working French at its “Spur” position, which is essentially an outside linebacker that specializes in getting after the passer. That’s a role in which French should flourish. 

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