February 23, 2015 - Dave Miller
Instant-impact JUCO transfers for 2015
Follow @Miller_Dave After taking a look last week at the incoming true freshmen that could make an instant impact with their new teams, let's take a look at some junior-college transfers that can pay immediate dividends for their new schools during the 2015 college football season. Louisville DE Devonte Fields: The native Texan is back in the FBS after his stint at Trinity Valley Community College. The former TCU standout was the Big 12 defensive player of the year after a freshman campaign that included 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. But an off-the-field incident before the 2014 season led to his dismissal, which led him to Trinity Valley. He recorded 6.5 sacks in 12 games last season and largely underwhelmed on a smaller stage. But if he has a newfound focus and remains trouble-free off the field, there is a chance for Fields to make an immediate impact for the Cardinals with Lorenzo Mauldin and B.J. Dubose gone. Don't be surprised if he shows all-league form in 2015. Ole Miss CB Tony Bridges: The Rebels had a tenacious defense last season, and the secondary was outstanding. But cornerback Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt are gone, and Golson recorded 10 interceptions and eight pass breakups last year. It appeared that Bridges was headed to Auburn, but the NJCAA first-team All-American decided to head to Oxford instead. He has a good frame and would immediately help offset the loss of Golson if he can translate his talents over to the SEC. Auburn RB Jovon Robinson: Gus Malzahn's offense will enter the 2015 season without quarterback Nick Marshall and running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. The coaching staff is very high on signal-caller Jeremy Johnson, but Roc Thomas (214 yards) and Peyton Barber (54) are the top returning running backs. So the compact Robinson, who originally committed to Auburn out of high school but was ruled ineligible, has a strong chance to win the starting job and be a key cog in Malzahn's offense in the fall after being the NJCAA player of the year in 2013. USC WR De'Quan Hampton: The Trojans have become a chic pre-preseason pick to make the College Football Playoff in 2015, as quarterback Cody Kessler is back following an impressive 2014. Steve Sarkisian's offense loses Nelson Agholor's 104 catches from 2014, but JuJu Smith should build off of his standout freshman season. The major question for 'SC, though, is who else will emerge as options for Kessler? Hampton has very good size at 6-4, and he'll have a chance along with Darreus Rogers to keep the Trojans' offense prolific in the Pac-12. Oklahoma State RB Chris Carson: The Cowboys were able to snag the Georgia native after it appeared that he was going to play for Mark Richt and the home-state Bulldogs. Instead, Carson is headed to Stillwater and has a chance to see immediate playing time for the Pokes. Oklahoma State's offense was a mess in 2014, and questions abound heading into the new year with Desmond Roland and Tyreek Hill gone. Rennie Childs is the team’s top returner at running back, but Carson has good size and should see early carries as long as he adjusts to life in the Big 12. Texas A&M S Justin Evans: The Aggies are desperate to upgrade their talent level and depth on the defensive side of the ball to help out new coordinator John Chavis, who arrived in College Station after a long stint with SEC West rival LSU. Head coach Kevin Sumlin has addressed the team's defensive issues on the recruiting trail, and Evans has a chance to contribute right away. The native Mississippian recorded six interceptions the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He has good instincts and ball skills, and major programs such as Alabama, Auburn and Texas were interested in bringing him in. Penn State OT Paris Palmer: The Nittany Lions struggled to protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg throughout the 2014 season, so improving the offensive line has to be priority No. 1 for James Franklin as he enters his second season as head coach. Penn State allowed 44 sacks last season, and the Nittany Lions enter the new campaign without left tackle Donovan Smith, who is off to the next level. Palmer is expected to step in right away and help man one of the tackle spots after spending two years at Lackawanna College. Arizona State LB Davon Durant: The Sun Devils do not lose any starting linebackers from their surprising defense last season, but expect Durant to force himself at least into the rotation, as he was ranked the best outside linebacker coming from the JUCO level. The Butler CC product had offers from big programs such as Oregon and Ole Miss, as he is athletic and a good tackler. His skills should translate very well to the Pac-12. Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara: The former Alabama all-purpose back landed in Knoxville, and he has a chance to pair up with Jalen Hurd and form a lethal backfield for the Vols. Kamara comes from Hutchinson Community College, where he rushed for 1,211 yards and 18 scores in his lone season. He has very good quickness and should finally be able to show off his SEC skill set. Other names to remember Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly: The nephew of Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly has a chance to be the heir apparent to Bo Wallace, but the former Clemson signal-caller absolutely must stay out of trouble off the field or else 2014's top JUCO passer will never get the chance to show the college football world his skill set. He threw for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns last season. Oklahoma OT Jamal Danley: The East Mississippi CC offensive tackle may have a chance to win a starting job because both tackle positions are open for the Sooners. Minnesota S Charlie Rogers: The Iowa Western CC product has a chance to step into a starting role with all four spots in the Gophers' secondary open, and he already has FBS experience from his time at Iowa State. Arkansas DT Jeremiah Ledbetter: Bret Bielema is building a dangerous program in the tough SEC, but coordinator Robb Smith loses end Trey Flowers and tackle Darius Philon up front. Enter Ledbetter, who recorded 22.5 career sacks over the last two seasons at Hutchinson Community College. South Carolina DE Marquavius Lewis: The Gamecocks' defense was woeful in 2014, so head coach Steve Spurrier brought in Jon Hoke to help coordinator Lorenzo Ward. The Head Ball Coach is also hoping help has come from the JUCO ranks, particularly in the form of Lewis. The team's pass rush was nonexistent in 2014, but Lewis recorded 18.5 sacks in two seasons at Hutchinson Community College. Florida State LB Lorenzo Phillips: The Seminoles experienced a lot of injuries within their linebacker unit last year, so it never hurts to add another defensive playmaker. Phillips recorded 14 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss at East Mississippi CC in 2014. Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.