How Ohio State Transfers Throughout College Football Fared During the 2021 Season

By Dan Hope on January 15, 2022 at 8:35 am
Isaiah Pryor
Isaiah Pryor (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports)

A dozen former Buckeyes who were previously scholarship players at Ohio State were on the rosters of other college football teams for the 2021 season.

Of course, the most high-profile Ohio State transfer in college football this season was Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, who was a Biletnikoff Award finalist and first-team All-American this year. Williams followed in the footsteps of Joe Burrow by leaving Ohio State for the SEC and leading his new team to a national championship game, though his season didn’t end on the same high note as Burrow’s did two years ago, as he suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter of the national championship game, which Alabama lost 33-18.

Most of Ohio State’s other transfers who played for other college football teams this season had much quieter seasons. Still, there were several other former Buckeyes – such as Duke center Jack Wohlabaugh and James Madison safety Wayne Davis – who played significant roles and had productive seasons for their teams this year.

Below, we take a look at all 12 former Ohio State scholarship players who were with other college football teams during the 2021 season and how much – or how little – each of them contributed to their respective teams this fall. (Note: The following list does not include former Ohio State walk-ons who transferred to play at other schools, nor does it include players who committed to Ohio State that were not actually part of the team for at least part of one season.)

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

After catching only 15 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns in two years at Ohio State, Williams immediately became one of college football’s most dynamic playmakers in Tuscaloosa, catching 79 passes for 1,574 yards and 15 touchdowns while also returning 10 kickoffs for 352 yards and two touchdowns. He led the entire nation with nine plays from scrimmage of 50-plus yards for the 2021 season.

In the process, Williams helped lead Alabama to an SEC championship and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, and positioned himself as a potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft – which he officially declared for on Thursday – though NFL teams will now have to consider his knee injury when weighing whether to select him as one of the top wide receivers off the board this year.

Jack Wohlabaugh, C, Duke

After missing the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL, Wohlabaugh bounced back strong in 2021. Using the additional year of eligibility given to all players by the NCAA, Wohlabaugh started all 12 games for Duke and played the most snaps of any Blue Devil while grading out as the 17th-best center in the country, according to Pro Football Focus.

An All-ACC honorable mention for the second time in his career, Wohlabaugh will now look to land an opportunity to play in the NFL. He accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl last week.

Isaiah Pryor, LB, Notre Dame

Pryor began the 2021 season as a starting linebacker for the Fighting Irish, replacing 2020 All-American Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at the rover position, but he was usurped in the starting lineup by Jack Kiser by the fourth game of the season. Still, Pryor saw playing time in all 13 of Notre Dame’s games and finished the year with 42 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup.

While Pryor could have chosen to use the additional year of eligibility and stay at Notre Dame for a sixth year of college football, he announced Sunday that he would enter the 2022 NFL draft.

Jaelen Gill, WR, Boston College

Gill was Boston College’s third-leading receiver in 2021, but his numbers dropped from 2020, as he caught just 24 passes for 269 yards and one touchdown after catching 29 passes for 435 yards and one touchdown in his first year at BC. He also had six punt returns for 40 yards.

The biggest play of the year for Gill came in a 17-3 win over Virginia Tech when he forced a fumble to get the ball back for the Eagles after an interception. He missed the Eagles’ first three games with a foot injury, however, and will need to put up bigger receiving numbers as a fifth-year senior next season to emerge as an NFL prospect.

Mookie Cooper, WR, Missouri

Cooper was also hampered by a foot injury in his first season at Missouri, and he saw limited playing time for most of the season. He finished the year with only 17 catches for 194 yards and nine carries for 18 yards; he missed three games entirely and did not catch a pass in six of Missouri’s final seven games of the year.

His final three catches of the season came in Missouri’s fourth-to-last game of the year against South Carolina. The redshirt freshman demonstrated his potential for the future in that game, though, as he burned the Gamecocks’ defense with his deep speed for a 60-yard touchdown.

L’Christian “Blue” Smith, WR, Cincinnati

While Cincinnati had a historic 2021 season by making the College Football Playoff, it was another quiet season for Smith, who caught zero passes for the second year in a row. In his third overall season for the Bearcats, Smith appeared in four games but did not record any statistics.

Smith still has two years of eligibility remaining and could potentially have an opening for more playing time next season, as the Bearcats are set to lose two of their top four wide receivers from this past season.

Alex Williams, DE, Vanderbilt

After sitting out the entire 2020 season due to the old NCAA rules that required transfers to sit out a year, Williams saw playing time in Vanderbilt’s defensive line rotation in each of the Commodores’ first eight games of 2021, in which he recorded six total tackles with two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

He did not play in any of the Commodores’ final four games of the season, however, and re-entered the transfer portal in December. He has not yet landed with a new team.

Max Wray, OT, Colorado

Wray started two of Colorado’s first three games of last season at left tackle, but played only four snaps for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury. Wray will not be returning to the field next season, as he ultimately decided to step away from football due to the injury.

His career at Colorado followed a similar path to his younger brother Jake Wray, who was also committed to Ohio State at one time before flipping to Colorado. The younger Wray medically retired from football in March due to back issues, though he has remained with the program as a filmmaker. 

Tyreke Johnson, CB, Nebraska

A five-star recruit out of high school, Johnson was expected to make an immediate impact in Nebraska’s secondary after transferring last offseason, but he ended up appearing in just two games in which he played just six total snaps and did not record any statistics.

Johnson still has two more years of eligibility and could have a chance to climb the depth chart in 2022 after Cam Taylor-Britt, one of the Cornhuskers’ starting cornerbacks this past season, entered the NFL draft. 

Tate Martell, QB, UNLV

While Martell’s return to Las Vegas to play for his hometown Rebels garnered plenty of attention, he barely saw the field in his first season at UNLV. After transferring from Miami to walk on at UNLV last offseason, Martell appeared in just two games and completed just two of six passing attempts for 27 yards and ran the ball just twice for five yards. According to UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo, Martell dealt with a medical issue during the season.

Although he started his college football career at Ohio State all the way back in 2017, Martell still has one more year of eligibility. He’ll have to beat out three quarterbacks who started games for UNLV in 2021 – Cameron Friel, Justin Rogers and Doug Brumfield – to ascend the depth chart in 2022.

Tate Martell
Tate Martell didn’t see the field much in his first season at UNLV. (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie – USA TODAY Sports)

Wayne Davis, S, James Madison

A four-year starter at James Madison, Davis completed a productive career with the Dukes in 2021, when he recorded 53 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception and four pass breakups. In James Madison’s final season in the FCS before moving up to the FBS in 2022, Davis helped lead a Dukes defense that finished in the top 10 nationally in both total defense and scoring defense as they made a run to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.

Davis, who recorded 196 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, six interceptions and 27 pass breakups over the course of his four years in Harrisonburg, will now look to earn his way onto an NFL roster in 2022.

Brian Snead, RB, Austin Peay

After rushing for 522 yards and four touchdowns on 95 carries in seven games in his first season at Austin Peay, Snead put up similar numbers over 10 games in his second season with the Governors, in which he ran for 494 yards and five touchdowns on 92 carries. Snead also caught four passes for 16 yards and had five kickoff returns for 80 yards.

With Austin Peay’s starting running back this past season, Ahmaad Tanner, now playing professional football in Italy, Snead could be in line for a bigger role in the Govs’ backfield next season, as he still has two more seasons of college eligibility.

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