What began as a trickle at the end of the season last year turned into a flood.
After last season, 22 Oklahoma State football players entered the transfer portal. OSU counteracted the exodus by bringing in 16 players and 247 Sports ranked the haul as the nation’s No. 22 transfer portal class.
There was hysteria in early December among a segment of OSU fans, worried that losing their quarterback, some of their top receivers, key defensive backs and a star linebacker would cripple the team. Sure, the departures haven’t made things easier on the 2-2 Cowboys, but there haven’t been too many former Cowboys crushing it with their new team, either.
The transfer portal isn’t an exact science. People often expect transfers to immediately slide into a new environment and produce, but that’s often not the case.
Of course, OSU would be much more settled at the quarterback position this year if Spencer Sanders hadn’t transferred to Ole Miss, but Sanders hasn’t been the starter in Oxford. Losing receiver John Paul Richardson to TCU hurt, but newcomer De’Zhaun Stribling has been fantastic at wideout this season. The Cowboys have been on the wrong end of some swaps, as defensive backs Jabbar Muhammad and Thomas Harper find success with new teams, while OSU’s secondary has become an issue.
So was the hysteria warranted? Through four games this season, there is a clearer picture of what exactly OSU lost and how well it has been replaced.
Here are the transfers, either into or out of OSU, who are having the biggest impact this season — ranked in order of 2023 impact, from least to most.
No. 38 Rashad Dixon, WR, walk-on redshirt junior, transferred from OSU: Dixon played football at Texas A&M Commerce before walking on at OSU in the spring of 2022. Though his social media profiles say he is back at Texas A&M Commerce, Dixon isn’t listed on the roster.
No. 37 Clayton Barbour, redshirt junior wide receiver, transferred from OSU: It appears Barbour, a former walk-on, didn’t land with a new team
No. 36 Casey Collier, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman, transferred from OSU: Collier, who started his career at USC, hasn’t appeared to find a new team.
No. 35 Arland Bruce IV, sophomore wide receiver, transferred from Iowa to OSU: Bruce committed to the Cowboys on Jan. 14 but was charged with wagering on football games in August. OSU coach Mike Gundy since has said Bruce remained on the team but was not participating in team activities.
No. 34 Max Muehlberger, redshirt freshman tight end, transferred from OSU to Kansas: Muehlberger, the No. 1 tight end in Kansas coming out of high school, hasn’t played this season. He didn’t appear in any games last year with the Cowboys.
No. 33 Ian Edenfield, senior tight end, PennWest California: Edenfield has played in all four games and hasn’t recorded a statistic for the Cowboys.
No. 32 Lardarius Webb Jr., defensive back, transferred from Jones College (Mississippi) to OSU: Webb Jr. was ranked as a top-50 JUCO player and the Cowboys scooped him up. He appeared in games against Central Arkansas and Arizona State but hasn’t registered a statistic.
No. 31 Bryce Drummond, redshirt sophomore right end, transferred from North Texas to OSU: Mike Gundy was asked about Drummond, who played linebacker and special teams last season. Gundy said Drummond cooks well and isn’t afraid of hard work.
No. 30 Kenneth “Mook” Harris, sophomore cornerback, transferred from Arkansas State to OSU: Four appearances, one tackle
No. 29 Noah McKinney, freshman offensive lineman, transferred from UNLV to OSU: McKinney has not played an offensive snap this season, operating on a limited basis solely on special teams.
No. 28 Na’Drian Dizadare, graduate student linebacker, transferred from OSU to UT Martin: Dizadare, a Shreveport native, played in a 48-7 loss to Georgia.
No. 27 Preston Hickey, redshirt freshman defensive tackle, transferred from OSU to LSU: Hickey played three snaps in a 72-10 win against Grambling.
No. 26 Justin Wright, senior linebacker, transferred from Tulsa to OSU: Wright was brought in to help replace linebacker Mason Cobb in the middle of the OSU defense. Unfortunately for Wright, he played just eight snaps in OSU’s season-opener against Central Arkansas before getting hurt. Wright returned to play 11 snaps against Iowa State and picked up his first tackle of the year.
Former OSU offensive lineman Caleb Etienne (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
No. 25 Caleb Etienne, junior offensive lineman, transferred from OSU to BYU: Etienne lost his starting right tackle job last week against Kansas. The 6-foot-8, 330-pound junior started BYU’s first three games this season but Pro Football Focus graded him out poorly. He has the lowest overall grade, 42.8, of any BYU offensive player.
No. 24 Eli Russ, OL, redshirt sophomore, transferred from OSU to Troy: Russ has started every game at center for the Trojans. Games against Stephen F. Austin, Kansas State, James Madison and Western Kentucky haven’t gone spectacularly for Russ. Pro Football Focus grades him at 46.3, the bottom of the offensive line and second-worst on the offense.
No. 23 Leon Johnson III, senior wide receiver, transferred from George Fox University to OSU: The NCAA Division III transfer hasn’t played a lot of Big 12 football yet. Johnson III is credited with 14 snaps against Central Arkansas and 12 against Arizona State but has yet to catch a pass.
No. 22 Langston Anderson, redshirt junior, wide receiver, transferred from OSU to Texas State: Anderson has only appeared in one game for the Bobcats, a 77-34 win against Jackson State in which he caught one pass for 21 yards.
No. 21 Samuela Tuihalamaka, redshirt senior defensive tackle, transferred from OSU To San Diego State University: After five seasons in Stillwater, Tuihalamaka moved back closer to his home of Riverside, California. This year, Tuihalamaka has worked mostly at nose tackle and Pro Football Focus has graded him out in the middle of the pack among Aztec defenders.
No. 20 Braylin Presley, sophomore running back, transferred from OSU to Tulsa: Back in his home city of Tulsa, Presley switched positions from receiver to running back. He’s had more success this season through the air, though, as he caught three passes against No. 8 Washington, the longest of which went for 32 yards. With the Cowboys last season, Presley returned one kick for 19 yards. He isn’t the primary kickoff or punt returner at TU.
No. 19 Stephon Johnson Jr., sophomore wide receiver, transferred from OSU to Houston: The man called “Boogie” hasn’t yet emerged into the top group of Houston receivers. Johnson Jr. is fifth on the team with six receptions, well behind Houston’s top flight of pass catchers, Samuel Brown (24 receptions), Joseph Manjack IV (20 receptions) and Matthew Golden (22 catches).
No. 18 Josiah Johnson, graduate transfer tight end, Massachusetts: With OSU restoring the tight end position on its roster, it was somewhat of a question of what Johnson’s role would be. Johnson has played in all four games this season and is emerging over junior Quinton Stewart as more of the pass-catching tight end, although his production has been limited. His best game came against South Alabama when he caught two catches for 25 yards. Even with a tight end on the roster, OSU’s offense ranked No. 97 in the nation, hasn’t been drastically improved for the better. Johnson has five catches for 35 yards.
No. 17 Bryson Green, junior wide receiver, transferred from OSU to Wisconsin: Green is fifth among Wisconsin receivers in receptions (eight for 83 yards). He was targeted five times in each of the Badgers’ first three games but produced inconsistently. Against Georgia Southern in week three, Green didn’t record a catch.
No. 16 Spencer Sanders, senior quarterback, transferred from OSU to Ole Miss: Sanders has appeared in three of Ole Miss’ first four games but has played only 24 snaps. Junior Jaxson Dart won the starting quarterback job for the Rebels in the offseason and has so far reduced Sanders to mostly a mop-up role. Sanders’ best game came last week in a 73-7 win against Mercer when he threw two touchdown passes. 2023 stats: 10-of-16 for 142 passing yards, two touchdowns. Three carries for 15 yards.
No. 15 Wes Pahl, junior punter, transferred from Western Kentucky: Pahl was OSU’s primary punter in the first three games this season, punting 14 times for a 44.7-yard average. Last week against Iowa State, Australian freshman Hudson Kaak took over the duty, punting eight times while Pahl sat idle.
No. 14 Demarco Jones, graduate student defensive back, transferred from OSU to Tulsa: Jones, a Booker T. Washington High School product, returned home to play at Tulsa. He has seven tackles this season. His best game came last week against Oklahoma when he picked off Sooner quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
Former Oklahoma State Cowboy Trace Ford (30) makes an interception for Oklahoma against Tulsa on Sept. 16, 2023.(Nathan J. Fish/USA TODAY Sports)
No. 13 Trace Ford, senior defensive end, transferred from OSU to Oklahoma: Ford’s best game with the Sooners came against Tulsa. He recorded four tackles and also picked off TU quarterback Cardell Williams and returned the intended screen pass 26 yards down to the 4-yard line.
No. 12 Mason Cobb, senior linebacker, transferred from OSU to USC: Cobb is a team captain at USC and started the Trojans’ season opener against San José State, but injured his groin. He was held out for two weeks but returned to play 74 snaps against Arizona State and recorded one tackle. He has seven tackles, two for losses.
No. 11 Alan Bowman, senior quarterback, transferred from Michigan to OSU: Bowman got his chance as “the guy” against Iowa State last week and played like he has all season, kind of average. He is completing 53% of his passes and has a 1:1 turnover-to-touchdown ratio. Bowman (53-of-100 for 513 passing yards, three total touchdowns and three interceptions) hasn’t cost the Cowboys a game this season but hasn’t won them a game either.
No. 10 Anthony Goodlow, senior defensive end, transferred from Tulsa to OSU: Goodlow has been a welcome addition to an OSU defense operating mostly with three players on the line. His 10 tackles place him second among defensive linemen, behind Nathan Latu’s 15. Goodlow has played a significant amount of snaps in every game, including 38 against Arizona State, the most of any defensive lineman.
No. 9 Justin Kirkland, sophomore nose tackle, transferred from Utah Tech to OSU: As a nose tackle brought in to clog up the middle of a 3-3-5 defense, Kirkland isn’t in a position to rack up tackles, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying. He has eight this season (including four against South Alabama) and a tackle-for-loss to go along with it. Pro Football Focus has graded Kirkland top-five on the OSU defense in three of four games this season.
No. 8 Kanion Williams, safety, graduate student, transferred from OSU to Tulsa: Williams is off to a great start in his first season away from Stillwater. He is second on the team with 16 tackles, even though he’s played in only three of four games. Defensive back is a place OSU has been inconsistent this season, making Williams’ production at Tulsa (one interception) something OSU may wish it still had around.
No. 7 Elijah Collins, senior running back, transferred from Michigan State to OSU: 2023 stats: 25 carries for 102 yards. 4.1-yard average. Two catches for 19 yards. Collins has mostly been an effective piece of a three-man running back rotation. He is in his sixth year of college football and provides a veteran presence in the running back room. Before last week against Iowa State, Collins led the backfield with 25 carries. He was noticeably absent in Ames, playing just three snaps and not touching the football. So far, Collins has been effective when called on, averaging 4.1 yards a carry. We’ll see if the ISU game was an aberration or a new normal.
No. 6 Dalton Cooper, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman, transferred from Texas State to OSU: Cooper was brought in to bolster a struggling offensive line. He has done his part at the tackle position. Cooper didn’t start the season-opener against Central Arkansas, but played 62 snaps and has started every game since. PFF grades Cooper as the second-best lineman on the team this season, behind center Joe Michalski.
No. 5 Thomas Harper, safety, senior, transferred from OSU to Notre Dame: Harper’s first year playing college football outside of OSU got started in Dublin, Ireland with a game against Navy. Harper has produced consistently this season and played a season-high 58 snaps in Notre Dame’s biggest game so far against Ohio State last week. He has 20 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
No. 4 John Paul Richardson, junior wide receiver, transferred from OSU to TCU: Perhaps the biggest thing OSU fans may notice about Richardson is he no longer goes by John Paul. Down in Fort Worth, he is listed on the roster and referred to on broadcasts simply as JP. Richardson has played well in TCU’s games against Colorado, six catches for 63 yards, and Houston, six catches for 60 yards, but has not had an explosive 100-yard game yet.
No. 3 Jabbar Muhammad, junior cornerback, transferred from OSU to Washington: Muhammad is off to a fantastic start with the Huskies. He is beginning to make a case as Washington’s top cornerback. Against Tulsa in week two, Muhammad covered five targets and allowed two catches. He also got sent on a pass rush and registered a sack, the first of his career. Last week, Muhammad intercepted Cal quarterback Ben Finley and returned it 42 yards.
No. 2 Dominic Richardson, junior running back, transferred from OSU to Baylor: Richardson opened the season as Baylor’s lead back and was effective, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the third quarter in Baylor’s week two loss against Utah and was held out of BU’s 30-7 win against Long Island. Richardson returned last week against Texas and rushed for four yards on six carries. Richardson leads the team in carries ( 36 rushes for 160 yards. Seven receptions for 49 yards).
No. 1 De’Zhaun Stribling, junior wide receiver, transferred from Washington State to OSU: Stribling has made the most immediate impact of any new Cowboy this season. His 198 receiving yards rank second on the team, although he’d likely be leading the group if he hadn’t gotten injured and exited during OSU’s first drive against South Alabama. Stribling returned against Iowa State and caught three passes for 60 yards. He is OSU’s most consistent wideout and the gem of the transfer portal class so far with 14 catches for 198 yards and one TD.
Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver De’Zhaun Stribling (88) (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)