South Florida Has Welcomed Nine Transfers Since Jeff Scott Took Over

Mitchell Brinkman had 45 career receptions at Northern Illinois. He announced he was transferring to South Florida on May 15. (Courtesy NIU Athletics)

When Mitchell Brinkman announced last week that he was leaving Northern Illinois to play his final season of college football at South Florida, the tight end became the ninth player to transfer to USF since Jeff Scott was named head coach in early December. 

While all nine could be in uniform this season, the status of running back Darrian Felix and kicker Jared Sackett have yet to be determined.

Here is an alphabetical look at each of the transfers.   

Mitchell Brinkman, TE (Northern Illinois)
With Mitchell Wilcox in the NFL, Jacob Mathis was the lone tight end with experience at the position. That changed when Brinkman announced he was headed to Tampa. The 6-foot-3, 252-pound grad transfer parlayed a strong preseason camp into a 2019 campaign that was easily his most productive with the Huskies. The Iowa native’s 34 receptions (three touchdowns) were third on the team and his 445 yards were good for second.

A foot injury impacted his 2018 season, when he played in only four games to preserve a year of eligibility. One of the games Brinkman played was the Huskies’ MAC championship win over Buffalo when he had what were then career bests for catches (3) and yards (42). He set new career highs with five receptions and 100 yards in a win at Ohio last season. Brinkman’s career numbers are 45-575-5 in 37 games. 

Cade Fortin, QB (North Carolina)
The 6-foot-3 Georgian entered the transfer portal last August when it was clear Sam Howell would be the Tar Heels’ starting quarterback. Fortin left Chapel Hill and completed his two-year degree at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in December. In doing so, he met academic requirements allowing him to be eligible to play this fall. He committed to USF a week after Jeff Scott was formally introduced as the Bulls’ head coach.

Fortin, who has three years of eligibility remaining, played four games (two starts) with the Tar Heels in 2018. He threw for 388 yards and one touchdown and also ran for a score. He will compete with Jordan McCloud (10 starts last season) and fellow transfer Noah Johnson. Freshmen Katravis Marsh and Jordan Smith give the Bulls five scholarship QBs. 

Devin Gill played all 13 games each of the past three seasons at Michigan. He has 47 career tackles. (Courtesy University of Michigan Athletics)


Devin Gill, LB (Michigan)
After redshirting in 2016, the Pembroke Pines native played in all 39 games for the Wolverines the past three seasons. Performing on special teams as well as in the middle of the defense, Gill totaled 47 tackles, including four for loss during his time in Ann Arbor. The grad transfer’s career-high for tackles is three, which he recorded on three occasions, most recently against Wisconsin in 2018.

In 2016 and 2017, Gill was a teammate of Bulls receiver Eddie McDoom, who transferred from Michigan in 2018. 

Noah Johnson, QB (Alcorn State)
In transferring to USF for his final season, Johnson reunites with running backs coach and former West Virginia star Pat White, who coached quarterbacks at ASU the past two seasons.

A sprained throwing shoulder limited Johnson to three games last season (312 yards passing) after capturing Southwestern Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2018. That season the Tampa native and Armwood High product totaled 3,287 yards and 26 touchdowns, including 1,080 yards (7.5 ypc) and 11 TDs on the ground. His career totals at ASU included 6,295 total yards and 61 total touchdowns.

As a freshman in 2016, Johnson tied Steve McNair’s single-game school mark of eight touchdowns against Mississippi Valley State. His passing numbers were downright staggering: 11-of-15 for 282 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 62 yards (six carries) and a TD rushing. At ASU, Johnson played for coach Fred McNair, Steve’s brother. Fred was a receiver and quarterback at ASU.

Thad Mangum, DT (Wofford)
Mangum was granted a sixth year of eligibility after suffering a season-ending knee injury during last year’s opener, and during the Bulldogs’ first defensive series.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2015, the 6-foot-2 and 290-pound South Carolina native served as a backup for two seasons before working his way into a starting role in 2018. That season, he was a second team all-Southern Conference performer after recording 51 tackles, including three sacks. For his career, Mangum has 86 tackles and seven sacks. 

Mangum adds depth at a position where returnees Kevin Kegler, Blake Green and Rashawn Yates each started at least five games in 2019. 

Bo Peek, DT (Stanford)
Like Johnson, Peek is a Tampa native (Plant HS) returning home to complete his collegiate career. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle did not see action in either of his first three years with the Cardinal. He played three games last season, the second one at UCF on September 14.

Peek’s father played football at Louisiana Tech and his grandfather, uncle and cousin played at Florida. 

Alec Valet, G (Jacksonville)
Jacksonville dropped football after 22 seasons. The non-scholarship program was a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference within the Football Championship Subdivision. The announcement came in early December and resulted in many players looking for a new home. 

Valet, a 6-foot-3 and 275-pound native of Titusville, remains in state after committing to the Bulls in April. He did not play in either of his two years with the Dolphins.

The hope is that Felix and Sackett, both of whom have two years of eligibility, will be cleared to play this season. Here is a look at both of them:

Darrian Felix, RB (Oregon)
The Fort Myers native, who crossed the continent to play for Willie Taggart in 2017, entered the portal in December and within a couple of days committed to USF. Felix saw action in 17 games during his three seasons with the Ducks and has two years of eligibility after seeing the field only twice in 2018 due to a knee injury. He has 426 career rushing yards and three touchdowns. Should he be able to compete this season, Felix would join a RB corps that has only one player (Kelley Joiner) who rushed for as many as 200 yards last season. 

Jared Sackett, K (UTSA/Arkansas)
The two-time Groza Award (nation’s top placekicker) semifinalist made 33-of-41 field goal attempts at UTSA, including 19-of-22 as a freshman in 2017. Nine of the Texan’s career field goals are from 40-plus yards. Sackett sat out last season after transferring to Arkansas, which should help his eligibility cause for this season. In 2019, Spencer Shrader and Coby Weiss were a combined 7-for-14 for the Bulls, including 3-for-10 on attempts of 30-plus yards.

Tom Layberger is a contributor to forbes.com. See his feature on USF offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr.

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Tom Layberger has been a sports writer, reporter and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Comcast, NBC and The Topps Company. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and globalsportmatters.com. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a USF grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.