At Least 38 Ohio State Transfers Set to Play for Other College Football Teams in 2023

By Dan Hope on May 19, 2023 at 11:35 am
Quinn Ewers
Scott Wachter – USA TODAY Sports

There have never been more former Ohio State football players playing college football elsewhere than there are right now.

Even though Ohio State lost only nine scholarship players to the transfer portal this offseason, more than three dozen former Buckeyes – including walk-ons – will be playing for other college football teams in 2023. Those players span across five different Ohio State recruiting classes, as wide receivers Kaleb Brown (Iowa) and Caleb Burton (Auburn) became the first members of the Buckeyes’ 2022 class to transfer elsewhere this offseason while eight members of Ohio State’s 2018 class – six more than are still playing at Ohio State – are still playing college football at other schools as sixth-year seniors.

Fortunately for anyone who wants to keep up with the former Buckeyes playing around the country this season, we’ve done the dirty work for you to compile a list of all the former Ohio State players who are currently on college football rosters for the 2023 season.

We start with the 22 former Buckeyes who will play for other Power 5 schools (and Notre Dame) this year, followed by 11 former Buckeyes who now play for Group of 5 schools and five former Buckeyes who currently play at the FCS level. Players who were walk-ons for the Buckeyes are denoted with an asterisk, though some of them are now scholarship players for their new schools.

Power 5 Transfers

Auburn: WR Caleb Burton

After seeing no playing time in his first year as a Buckeye, Burton opted to transfer to Auburn rather than spend another year buried on Ohio State’s loaded wide receiver depth chart. With all four years of eligibility still intact, Burton has plenty of time to climb the depth chart at Auburn and will have a clearer path to do so than he would have in Columbus.

Florida: QB Jack Miller III and LB Teradja Mitchell

Miller made his first career start for Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl and completed 13 of 22 passing attempts for 180 yards as the Gators managed to score only three points against Oregon State. He’s now competing with former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz to be the Gators’ starting quarterback for the 2023 season.

Mitchell, who played just one defensive snap for Ohio State in 2022 after starting eight games in 2021, transferred to Florida this offseason with his sights set on playing a bigger role on defense in his final year of collegiate eligibility after getting shuffled out of Ohio State’s linebacker rotation.

Iowa: WR Kaleb Brown and WR Austin Kutscher*

While Brown was unlikely to see significant playing time in Ohio State’s wide receiver rotation this year, he has a chance to make an immediate impact at Iowa, which has only five non-freshman scholarship receivers and needs upgrades after having one of college football’s worst offenses last year. Kutscher, a sixth-year senior walk-on, is also entering his first year in the Hawkeyes’ receiving corps after joining the Hawkeyes as a graduate transfer this spring.

Kansas: LB Craig Young

Young started all but one game for Kansas last season, recording 60 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, three pass breakups, one interception and one forced fumble as he helped the Jayhawks earned their first bowl bid in 14 years.

Kentucky: OL Ben Christman, DB Jantzen Dunn and DL Darrion Henry-Young

Ohio has been a frequent recruiting ground for Kentucky in recent years, and that’s extended to Ohio State as the Wildcats now have three Buckeye transfers on their roster, more than any other college football team. Christman and Dunn are both entering their first year with the Wildcats while Henry-Young played sparingly in his first season as Kentucky, recording a sack against Youngstown State for his only tackle of the year.

LSU: CB JK Johnson

While Sevyn Banks opted not to use his additional year of eligibility after transferring to LSU last year, the Tigers added another former Ohio State cornerback this offseason. One of four transfer cornerbacks to join the Tigers this offseason, Johnson is competing with fellow transfers Duce Chestnut (Syracuse), Zy Alexander (Southeastern Louisiana) and Denver Harris (Texas A&M) for a starting job in Baton Rouge after starting five games for the Buckeyes in 2022.

Michigan State: LS Mason Arnold* and P Michael O’Shaughnessy*

Michigan State added not one but two walk-on specialists from Ohio State this offseason. O’Shaughnessy is a candidate to replace New England Patriots draft pick Bryce Baringer as MSU’s new punter. Arnold, who was Ohio State’s starting long snapper for the final six games of 2022 but was replaced by Arizona State transfer John Ferlmann, looks for a fresh start in East Lansing, though Hank Pepper returns with two years of experience as MSU’s starting long snapper.

Missouri: WR Mookie Cooper

Cooper has caught 42 passes for 477 yards and one touchdown in his first two seasons at Missouri. He still has three more years of eligibility in which he could potentially build on those numbers.

North Carolina: CB Lejond Cavazos and DE Jacolbe Cowan

Cavazos and Cowan are both entering their second year as Tar Heels after transferring to UNC in 2022. Cavazos made three starts and recorded 18 tackles with two pass breakups and one tackle for loss in his first season in North Carolina’s secondary, while Cowan recorded six tackles with one sack as a backup defensive lineman for the Tar Heels in 2022.

NC State: DE Noah Potter

One year after transferring from Ohio State to Cincinnati, Potter relocated again to NC State as a graduate transfer this offseason. He recorded 18 tackles with four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in his lone season with the Bearcats and now looks to earn a substantial role in the Wolfpack’s defensive end rotation in his fifth year of college football.

Notre Dame: DE Javontae Jean-Baptiste

Jean-Baptiste considered entering the 2023 NFL draft after five years at Ohio State but instead decided to transfer to Notre Dame, where his position coach will be former Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington. While Jean-Baptiste never quite broke out as a rotational defensive end for the Buckeyes, he’s a projected starter for the Fighting Irish and will face off against his former team when Notre Dame hosts Ohio State on Sept. 23.

Pittsburgh: G Ryan Jacoby

Jacoby saw regular playing time as a sixth offensive lineman/jumbo tight end in his first playing season at Pittsburgh, even catching a pass in the Panthers’ loss to Georgia Tech. He’s expected to be Pitt’s starting left guard this year.

Tennessee: S Andre Turrentine

Turrentine saw only occasional playing time on defense in his first year at Tennessee, recording 11 tackles for the season. With multiple returning starters in front of him on the safety depth chart, he’ll likely have to wait another year for his chance to be a starter for his home-state school.

Texas: QB Quinn Ewers and CB Ryan Watts

Undoubtedly the most high-profile Ohio State transfer in college football right now, Ewers is entering his second year as Texas’ starting quarterback. Last year, Ewers flashed the arm talent that made him the No. 1 overall recruit in the country but was often erratic, completing just 12 of his 48 throws of 20-plus yards for no touchdowns with three interceptions, according to ESPN. Given that he would have competed with Kyle McCord and Devin Brown for the starting job at Ohio State this year, his performance will be compared to that of Ohio State’s quarterback all year long.

Watts also stepped into a major role in his first year at Texas, starting all 13 of the Longhorns’ games at cornerback and earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors in 2022. He’s considered the leader of Texas’ cornerback unit entering the 2023 season after recording 51 tackles with four tackles for loss (one sack), three pass breakups and an interception last season.

USC: S Bryson Shaw

Shaw began his first season at USC as a backup but started five of the Trojans’ final six games and finished the year with 50 tackles, four pass breakups, one interception and one tackle for loss for Alex Grinch’s defense. The former Ohio State safety is expected to be a starter for the Trojans in 2024.

Group of 5 Transfers

Arkansas State: RB Brian Snead

Snead ran for 299 yards and six touchdowns on 81 carries in his first year at Arkansas State after transferring back up to the FBS level following two years at Austin Peay. Snead, who was dismissed from Ohio State as a freshman in 2018, split carries with starting running back Johnnie Lang last season and is expected to do so again in his second year with the Red Wolves.

Fresno State: WR Jaelen Gill

Gill is now playing for his third school, transferring to Fresno State earlier this month for his sixth and final year of college eligibility after three years at Boston College. A top-30 national recruit out of high school, Gill started for three seasons but never put up huge numbers in Chestnut Hill, catching 80 total passes for 1,092 yards and two touchdowns.

Memphis: DE Cormontae Hamilton and S Jaylen Johnson

Matt Barnes’ defense now includes two players he previously coached at Ohio State as Johnson transferred to Memphis in January. Hamilton made an immediate impact in his first year at his hometown school, starting all 13 games at defensive end and recording 46 tackles with six tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Miami (Ohio): LB Jackson Kuwatch*

After three years as an Ohio State walk-on in which his only snaps came on special teams, Kuwatch transferred to Miami (Ohio) this spring with hopes of following in the footsteps of other former Buckeyes who have found success in the MAC – more on that soon – and earning playing time at linebacker.

Northern Illinois: K Jake Seibert

Seibert also opted to take his talents to the MAC this spring after seeing no playing time in either of the last two seasons at Ohio State. While he wasn’t expected to factor into the Buckeyes’ kicking competition this year, he’ll have a chance to win the kicking job at NIU, which is replacing its kicker from last year.

Ohio: WR Sam Wiglusz*

Wiglusz was one of the best transfer success stories in all of college football last season. A walk-on who caught just three passes in four years at Ohio State, Wiglusz became an immediate star as a scholarship player at Ohio University, catching 74 passes for 883 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn first-team All-MAC honors. The additional year of eligibility given to all college football players in 2020 gives him the chance to play another season for the Bobcats this year.

SMU: WR Corban Cleveland*

A walk-on receiver who saw no game action in two years at Ohio State, Cleveland is now set to continue his career in his home state at SMU.

Toledo: LB Dallas Gant

Like Wiglusz, Gant quickly became a standout in his first year in the MAC, recording 116 total tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles to earn first-team All-MAC honors in his debut season with the Rockets. Also like Wiglusz, Gant is taking advantage of the additional year of eligibility to play a sixth overall year of college football and second year in the MAC in 2023.

Tulsa: DT Zaid Hamdan*

Hamdan is now playing for his fourth different college football team in four years, joining Kevin Wilson at Tulsa after one-year stints at Southern Illinois and James Madison. A walk-on who appeared in five games over three years at Ohio State, Hamdan didn’t record any stats for SIU last season after playing in five games with five tackles and one tackle for loss at JMU in 2021.

Western Kentucky: WR Blue Smith

Like Gill, Smith is now playing for his third college football team after transferring from Cincinnati to Western Kentucky for his sixth-year senior season. Smith played only sparingly as a backup in his four-year tenure as a Bearcat, catching five passes for 62 yards in 2022.

FCS Transfers

McNeese State: K Garrison Smith*

Smith received a scholarship to play at McNeese State after just one year as a walk-on at Ohio State. In his first year with the Cowboys, Smith made 10 of 11 field goal attempts and all 25 of his extra point attempts while also handling punting duties for one game and kickoff duties for every other game.

Murray State: LB Ryan Batsch*

Another walk-on who left Ohio State for the FCS in search of a bigger role, Batsch appeared in just one game in his first year with the Racers, recording one tackle on special teams. He has one more season of eligibility.

Tennessee State: LB K’Vaughan Pope

Following his unceremonious exit from Ohio State in 2021, Pope revived his career playing for Eddie George at Tennessee State, recording 62 tackles with four tackles for loss, four pass breakups and a forced fumble in his first year with the Tigers. A second-team All-OVC selection last year, Pope has one more year of collegiate eligibility.

Youngstown State: S Marcus Hooker and WR Blaize Exline*

Hooker, who started at safety for Ohio State in 2020 but played only sparingly in his final season as a Buckeye in 2021, started five games in his first year at Youngstown State and recorded 23 total tackles and two interceptions. Another member of the 2018 class now using his sixth and final year of collegiate eligibility, Hooker will face off against his former team when Youngstown State plays at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 9.

Exline joined the Penguins this spring after one year at Ohio State as a walk-on receiver.

The list of Ohio State transfers on college football rosters this year could still potentially grow as there are several former Buckeyes still looking for homes in the transfer portal.

Former Buckeye defensive backs Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint are looking for another opportunity to play college football after they were acquitted of the rape charges that ended their Ohio State careers in 2020. Former Ohio State walk-on cornerback Lloyd McFarquhar remains in the portal as a graduate transfer. Former Ohio State walk-on quarterback J.P. Andrade re-entered the transfer portal in January after one year at Jackson State while former Ohio State walk-on defensive tackle Brett Novick re-entered the portal earlier this month after three years at Delaware.

Ohio State transfers who concluded their college football careers this past season include Banks and fellow defensive back Tyreke Johnson, who appeared in just two games in his two years at Nebraska. Former Ohio State walk-on linebacker Ben Schmiesing played his second and final season at Dayton last year, leading the Flyers with 89 tackles in 2022. Former walk-on quarterback Jagger LaRoe ended his college football career after a brief stint at Texas A&M-Commerce; he signed with the Grizzlys Catalans, a French professional football team, in December.

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