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The 13 transfers who will shape Florida’s college football season

From McKenzie Milton to Antonio Valentino to TJ Robinson, here are the new names you need to know this fall.
Florida Gators lineman Antonio Valentino, a transfer from Penn State, will try to beef up UF's defense this fall.
Florida Gators lineman Antonio Valentino, a transfer from Penn State, will try to beef up UF's defense this fall. [ HANNAH WHITE | Courtesy of UAA Communications ]
Published Aug. 19

The transfer portal’s ever-growing importance will be evident all over the state this fall. Here are 13 transfers who will shape the fortunes of Florida’s college football season:

Note: We’re only including transfers who haven’t yet played for their new school, so players like D’Eriq King (who started at Miami last year after coming from Houston) and Justin Shorter (the Gators receiver who came from Penn State) aren’t included.

Related: Florida has no top-10 teams. That’s a concern, if not a problem (yet)

Florida defensive linemen Antonio Valentino (Penn State), Daquan Newkirk (Auburn)

Daquan Newkirk is a big addition to UF's defense from Auburn.
Daquan Newkirk is a big addition to UF's defense from Auburn. [ COURTNEY CULBREATH | Courtesy of UAA Communications ]

We’re lumping them together because they’re both experienced interior linemen (70 combined games, 91 tackles) who are expected to shore up one of UF’s glaring weaknesses from last season. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham compared their potential impact to what Jonathan Greenard did two years ago when he joined from Louisville. Greenard’s playmaking ability made him an all-SEC pass rusher, and his contagious work ethic helped transform the defense as a whole. “I look at these two guys being the same,” Grantham said.

Related: Gators’ 2021 season hinges on their defense, not offense

Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton

McKenzie Milton, the former UCF star, is having a big impact at FSU.
McKenzie Milton, the former UCF star, is having a big impact at FSU. [ Tribune News Service ]

The former UCF star has moved on from a horrific knee injury he suffered at USF in 2018 and continues to battle Jordan Travis for the starting job. If nothing else, Milton brings experience and leadership to a young quarterback room — values that will pay off this year and beyond. “People smile when you’re around him,” offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said.

Related: McKenzie Milton wants to lead UCF-like turnaround at Florida State

FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson (Georgia)

FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson will try to shore up a pass rush that struggled last season.
FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson will try to shore up a pass rush that struggled last season. [ Courtesy of FSU Sports Information ]

If Milton is FSU’s No. 1 transfer, Johnson is 1A because of how much the Seminoles’ pass rush struggled last year. FSU’s entire roster had 10 sacks in 2020; Johnson himself had five in seven games at Georgia. If Johnson looks as impressive as he did in the spring, FSU’s defense should take a big step forward.

USF cornerback TJ Robinson (Rutgers)

TJ Robinson has the chance to be a special player at USF.
TJ Robinson has the chance to be a special player at USF. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The Bulls’ secondary is loaded with Power Five transfers to try to fix a unit that allowed 21 passing touchdowns last year (tied for No. 107 nationally). We’ll single out the 6-foot-3 Riverview High alumnus because coaches and teammates have been singling him out for months. “His size and his strength and his speed, he’s going to be a good talent for us this year,” linebacker Dwayne Boyles said.

Miami receiver Charleston Rambo (Oklahoma)

Miami Hurricanes receiver Charleston Rambo played well at Oklahoma in 2019.
Miami Hurricanes receiver Charleston Rambo played well at Oklahoma in 2019. [ AUSTIN SAPIN | Courtesy of Austin Sapin / Miami Athletics ]

King transformed Miami’s passing attack from a longtime liability into a strength last year. Rambo will try to help the unit advance to the next level. He’s a speedster who was the Sooners’ No. 2 receiver in 2019 and shined in the spring with seven catches for 72 yards in the exhibition game.

FSU receiver Andrew Parchment (Kansas)

Andrew Parchment was one of the Big 12's top receivers in 2019 and will try to make a splash at FSU this fall.
Andrew Parchment was one of the Big 12's top receivers in 2019 and will try to make a splash at FSU this fall. [ MATTHEW PUTNEY | AP (2019) ]

Coach Mike Norvell says his offense is built for playmakers. He needs more of them, judging by FSU’s 2020 passing stats (13 interceptions, 10 touchdowns). That means Parchment —like Rambo, one of the Big 12′s top receivers in 2019 — will have the chance to make an immediate impact in Tallahassee.

Related: Treshaun Ward bet on himself as an FSU walk-on. It’s paying off, for his family and the Seminoles.

USF receiver Demarcus Gregory (Mississippi)

Demarcus Gregory has drawn praise at USF after transferring from Mississippi.
Demarcus Gregory has drawn praise at USF after transferring from Mississippi. [ THOMAS GRANING | AP (2019) ]

The Bulls’ offense, like their defense, is loaded with transfers, including former Miami quarterback Jarren Williams. Williams might not earn the starting job, but the Bulls are counting on the 6-foot-1 Gregory to be a valuable contributor. The former three-star recruit will try to beef up a receiving corps looking for more downfield success this season.

Related: Inside USF’s physical and figurative locker-room transformation

Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson (Georgia)

Tyrique Stevenson played for Georgia last year and transferred to Miami.
Tyrique Stevenson played for Georgia last year and transferred to Miami. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP (2020) ]

The Hurricanes’ defense regressed last season, allowing 233 passing yards per game — the program’s worst figure since 2013. Stevenson should help address that quickly; the Miami native has good speed and size (6 foot, 214 pounds) and broke up 10 passes in his 24 games with the Bulldogs.

Related: Miami has experience, and that could be the key in 2021

UCF running backs Mark-Antony Richards (Auburn), Isaiah Bowser (Northwestern)

Isaiah Bowser was a productive back at Northwestern who will likely inherit a big role at UCF.
Isaiah Bowser was a productive back at Northwestern who will likely inherit a big role at UCF. [ CHARLIE NEIBERGALL | AP (2020) ]

First-year Knights coach Gus Malzahn is at his best when he has a strong run game. UCF’s top three rushers from last year are gone, and expected contributor RJ Harvey tore his ACL in preseason camp. The Knights, then, will have to rely on Richards (a former top-100 recruit from Wellington) and Bowser (who rushed for 1,300 yards over 23 games) to carry the backfield of an AAC contender.

UF running back Demarkcus Bowman (Clemson)

Demarkcus Bowman was one of the nation's top recruits at Lakeland High before signing with Clemson and transferring to UF.
Demarkcus Bowman was one of the nation's top recruits at Lakeland High before signing with Clemson and transferring to UF. [ Times (2019) ]

Bowman was a five-star recruit out of Lakeland High who decided to transfer after two games with the Tigers. He was ineligible last season and injured in the spring, but he’s finally starting to show coaches what he can do. “I’m excited about what we’re seeing right now,” running backs coach Greg Knox said. Expect him to add speed and explosiveness to a run game that should be one of the Gators’ biggest strengths.

Florida Atlantic running back Johnny Ford (USF)

Johnny Ford had almost 2,000 all-purpose yards during his USF career. He's now at Florida Atlantic.
Johnny Ford had almost 2,000 all-purpose yards during his USF career. He's now at Florida Atlantic. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times (2020) ]

The Miami native amassed almost 2,000 all-purpose yards with the Bulls before leaving the program in November. He’ll be an immediate jolt of talent for Willie Taggart. If Taggart’s offense progresses, the Owls have the potential to compete for a division title in Year 2.

Related: Reasonable goals for FSU football? Growth and 6-6

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