While SEC teams recruit at the highest level, an infusion of experienced talent is sometimes needed. Several top players from other conferences transferred into the conference this season and could make immediate impacts.
A few of the players on this list are graduate transfers, who gained immediate eligibility after graduating from their original schools. Others sat out the 2015 season in preparation to play at the highest level of college football.
Here are five of the transfers who could make the biggest impact in 2016.
QB Trevor Knight, Texas A&M
It’s one of the more obvious answers, but Oklahoma transfer QB Trevor Knight will be the key piece for Texas A&M next season. The Aggies lost 5-star QBs Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray to transfer during the offseason, clearing the way for Knight to take over at the position.
He sometimes struggled at Oklahoma, but has shown the ability to be a dynamic playmaker. Luckily, he will be surrounded by some of the top talent in the nation. Texas A&M arguably has the best wide receivers in college football, and will be complemented by an improving defense. The talent is all there for Texas A&M – can Knight tie everything together?
QB Luke Del Rio, Florida
Few programs in the country have struggled to find quality quarterback play more than the Florida Gators. For a few shining games last season, QB Will Grier showed Florida what its offense could be. But six wins into the season, Grier was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs and the Gators offense contracted completely.
Now, the Gators will hope Alabama and Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio can right the ship. Del Rio has football in his blood, considering he’s the son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. The younger Del Rio impressed in the spring game, throwing for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10-for-11 passing. If he can play at a high level, Del Rio could drastically change projections for the Gators next season.
WR Chris Black, Missouri
Missouri was an offensive sieve last season, ranking No. 126 in scoring offense last season at 13.6 points per game. Just a reminder, there are only 127 teams in FBS football. No Mizzou receiver produced more than 350 yards last season, For comparison’s sake, Ole Miss had six receivers with more than 350 receiving yards last season.
After a somewhat disappointing career at Alabama, WR Chris Black will try and reinvigorate his career at Missouri. Black was a sought-after prospect out of high school and could quickly become QB Drew Lock’s new favorite target at Missouri. If he can even produce respectable numbers, it should transform the Tigers offense.
LB Courtney Love, Kentucky
In the blink of an eye, six of Kentucky’s top seven tacklers from last season are gone. More importantly, three of the four starting linebackers are out for the Wildcats. That should pave the way for LB Courtney Love, a Nebraska transfer, to have a breakout season.
Love was a highly-recruited linebacker out of high school, receiving offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Love has excellent size and build for an inside linebacker. He is expected to step in right away and be an instant contributor on the Kentucky defense.
RB Keith Ford, Texas A&M
Knight is not the only Oklahoma playmaker headed to College Station, Texas — former 5-star RB Keith Ford will also line up for the Aggies next season. Ford is an immensely talented player, but struggled to find his place behind Samaje Perine, Alex Ross and a host of others in a crowded Oklahoma backfield.
Ford goes from being an afterthought at Oklahoma to being one of the stars in Kevin Sumlin’s offense. The Aggies lost leading rusher Tra Carson to the NFL, and return just 27.4 percent of their rushing yards from last season. It will be essential for Ford to find the magic from early in his career and provide balance to the offense.