April 15, 2024

Washington State transfer Cam Ward is one of the most highly sought-after quarterbacks available this offseason, and he has started visiting schools. He recently took a trip to Miami and is visiting Florida State this week. Ward said he enjoyed the Miami visit and it gave him his first look at a potential new school.

“It was a good visit for sure. With Mario Cristobal, [Shannon] Dawson, the offensive coordinator, I felt like the hospitality was off the charts,” Ward told ESPN. “I feel like what he’s building out there is good. … It’s for sure something that I wouldn’t mind being a part of.”

Ward currently has only those two visits planned.

“I haven’t set a third visit yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I set a third visit,” said Ward, who was fifth in the nation in passing yards in 2023. “I’m continuing to talk to a lot of other schools, so I’m going to play it by ear. USC is in there, Nebraska is in there, Washington for sure, and there are a couple other schools that haven’t reached out yet.”

Because this is his second time transferring, Ward knows what he’s looking for and what he wants out of his last season of eligibility.

“The biggest thing is just being part of a culture and the offensive line protecting, the weapons I put myself around,” Ward said. “And being able to play good team football. I feel like I have to put myself in a position where both sides of the ball are in it.”

Ward hasn’t ruled out entering the NFL draft, but that decision will come after he sees all the schools he has interest in. As the top-rated QB in the portal, Ward’s decision will impact other quarterbacks who are currently uncommitted, as well, with some schools overlapping in whom they’re targeting with limited spots remaining.

Here is a look at where the other quarterbacks stand in their transfer process, a few schools that had great weeks in the transfer portal and recruitments to watch over the next week:

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Where other top quarterbacks stand

DJ Uiagalelei | Transferring from: Oregon State

What he has done: Uiagalelei was an ESPN 300 recruit out of high school and signed with Clemson out of California. He sat his first season behind Trevor Lawrence, but showed flashes of his big arm in spot duty that first season. He had a roller-coaster sophomore year and transferred to Oregon State. He had a more consistent season in 2023, throwing for 2,638 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions for the Beavers.

Where things stand: Uiagalelei has been through the transfer process once before, leaving Clemson for Oregon State. He isn’t in a hurry to make a decision to find the best spot for him to continue developing his talent.

A source told ESPN that Florida State has interest but wants to bring him in for a visit to see if there is a cultural fit within the program. Uiagalelei is scheduled to visit Florida State this weekend, he told ESPN.

“I have a good idea what I want to find out, what I want to ask, I’m just excited to get down there,” Uiagalelei said. “I have only been there for a game, I’ve never taken a visit there before in high school. So, I’m excited to talk to Coach [Mike] Norvell, all the coaching staff there and see Tallahassee.”

Miami could be an option as well, as Uiagalelei and Ward are looking at some of the same schools. They might be playing a game of musical chairs to see what the other does first. Mississippi State and Louisville are two other schools that had been in the mix for Uiagalelei, as well, but the visit to Florida State could dictate how the rest of his recruitment plays out.

Danny Hernandez, a private quarterbacks coach who has worked extensively with Uiagalelei since junior high, believes the move to Oregon State was a big help for the star quarterback.

“It was just let me go in, do my thing and develop [at Oregon State], because that was a big thing for him. Let me just develop and he felt like he was getting that there with really good coaches,” Hernandez said. “With Jonathan Smith and Coach [Brian] Lindgren, it got him to just be able to relax and play.”

His resurgence and confidence has put him in a spot where he has a good number of options this time around.

“Obviously not being part of a rebuild and I think for him it would really make sense to be at a program that’s established,” Hernandez said. “I think that’s why a school like Florida State would make sense. If you have the need, you almost become that plug-and-play guy. I think that’s the ideal situation for a lot of these elite guys, especially if they’re leaving a spot where they were already a starter.

“Can I go into this spot that just seems like I might be that missing piece in order to keep the party going or take it to a higher level.”

Dante Moore | Transferring from: UCLA

What he has done: Moore was a five-star prospect from Detroit. He had an up-and-down true freshman season in 2023, playing in nine games and throwing for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Where things stand: Moore’s agent told ESPN he has been ill and finishing up academic work at UCLA, so his process didn’t fully get started right away.

A source told ESPN, however, that Moore is planning to visit Oregon soon and the Ducks are still in the mix despite a commitment from Oklahoma transfer Dillon Gabriel.

“Others are being set up, too,” the source told ESPN.

The Ducks saw sophomore Ty Thompson recently enter the transfer portal and Gabriel has just one year of eligibility remaining, so Moore could come in and sit for a season then compete for the starting job.

Moore committed to Oregon out of high school before flipping to UCLA, and while then-offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham is now at Arizona State, there is still familiarity with the staff.

Michigan State and Ohio State had reportedly been under consideration for Moore, but the family is not releasing much on which schools are still in it for the former five-star.

Will Howard | Transferring from: Kansas State

What he has done: Howard helped Kansas State to a Big 12 title and 10-4 record in the 2022 season. The team didn’t fare as well this season, but Howard had 2,643 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also had nine rushing touchdowns and 351 yards on the ground.

Where things stand: Howard also visited Miami this week, but as noted above, Ward could dictate what happens with the Hurricanes after his visit to Coral Gables.

USC has been mentioned as a potential option for Howard. While Caleb Williams hasn’t announced if he will enter the NFL draft, he is the presumed No. 1 overall pick.

Lincoln Riley signed five-star recruit Malachi Nelson in the 2023 class, but adding in more competition at the position, especially someone like Howard who has experience and would be able to run the offense, would be essential as the Trojans transition to the Big Ten next season.


Which schools won the portal this week

Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats have added quite a few players on offense through the transfer portal, capped by North Texas receiver Ja’Mori Maclin this week.

Maclin had 1,004 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2023. Kentucky didn’t have a receiver who caught more than 553 yards this season, so Maclin will be a welcomed addition. He’s joining Texas A&M freshman receiver Raymond Cottrell, who was an ESPN 300 recruit in the 2023 class, as key transfers at the position.

The staff also got Ohio State running back Chip Trayanum, who ran for 373 yards and three touchdowns on 85 attempts this season. In addition, Georgia quarterback Brock Vandagriff transferred to Kentucky last week, giving the staff a new set of personnel.

NC State Wolfpack

The Wolfpack needed help at quarterback and the coaches were able to add Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall. He has experience and has had a ton of success over the past four seasons, throwing for 10,005 yards, 88 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, while also running for 18 touchdowns.

NC State is replacing Brennan Armstrong, who transferred in before last season, and now McCall will give the coaches a dynamic quarterback to run the offense and try to build on to the 9-3 season the team had in 2023.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish got their quarterback in Duke transfer Riley Leonard. It had been reported Leonard would likely transfer to Notre Dame, but he didn’t make it official until this week.

Coach Marcus Freeman needed to replace Sam Hartman, who is out of eligibility, and Leonard gives him an outstanding option. The team still has Steve Angeli on the roster and is bringing in ESPN 300 recruit C.J. Carr in the 2024 class, so Freeman has been able to build quality depth and competition at the position for the future in a short time.

Leonard will have a Duke teammate — defensive lineman R.J. Oben — with him in South Bend. Oben, whom Florida State was also interested in, had 14.5 sacks during his Duke career.

Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans saw most of their quarterback depth leave through the transfer portal with Noah Kim, Katin Houser and Sam Leavitt all leaving. That posed a challenge to new coach Jonathan Smith, but he was able to get Aidan Chiles, who is now following Smith from Oregon State.

Smith recruited Chiles to play for the Beavers in the 2023 class and the true freshman threw just 35 passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions this past season.

He already knows Smith’s system and how he coaches, so it should be an easy transition for both coach and player.


Recruitments to watch

DT Joey Slackman

The Penn transfer has become one of the more sought-after defensive linemen in the portal.

He was the Ivy League defensive player of the year and had 50 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. He has already taken visits to Florida and Wisconsin and told ESPN he is visiting North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Auburn in the coming days.

Slackman also told ESPN he likely will not take any other visits and could make his final decision once his weekend visits are done. He hasn’t named a top list, but it’s safe to assume he’ll decide from among one of the schools he has visited.

Whichever team gets him to commit will be getting a disruptive interior lineman who should make an immediate impact.

DE Princely Umanmielen

The Florida defender surprised some by entering the transfer portal when he was being considered as a potential NFL draft pick. He was a second-team All-SEC player with 39 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2023.

He recently took a visit to Ole Miss. The Rebels could use pass rush help and Umanmielen would provide that and more up front for the defense.

S Andrew Mukuba

Mukuba is a former ESPN 300 recruit from the 2021 class, who signed with Clemson. He had 30 total tackles, two tackles for loss and seven pass breakups during the 2021 season. He had similar numbers in 2022 and followed that with 42 total tackles in 10 games this past season.

Mukuba has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons, but is healthy and looking for a new school. He told ESPN he is visiting Texas this weekend and the Austin native is not planning to take any other visits as of now.

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