The NCAA’s Transfer Portal currently features more than 850 names of college football players looking for new schools … and that number will grow over the coming months.
Several of those are now-former Mountaineers, most of whom are looking for more playing time at a new school.
There are currently nine individuals who were members of West Virginia program for at least part of the 2020 season but now are in the transfer portal and looking to move on.
Among those is the Mountaineers’ hero of the 2020 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Austin Kendall, who came on in relief at quarterback in the second half in Memphis and helped lead WVU to a 24-21 victory over Army.
Kendall transferred to West Virginia as a redshirt junior from Oklahoma prior to the 2019 season, but because the NCAA did not count the ‘20 campaign towards any fall student-athlete’s eligibility clock (or towards 2020-21 winter sports student-athletes either), Kendall still has one more season of college eligibility remaining. It will be his sixth year in college, and he’ll look to spend it at another school.
Of those nine former WVU players in the portal, offensive lineman Junior Uzebu is the only one of who has already revealed his new landing spot. The sophomore from Atlanta started at left tackle for WVU against Oklahoma State this fall, but after that, he was supplanted in the starting lineup by Brandon Yates, and Uzebu didn’t see any further action for West Virginia. He announced in midseason that he was leaving West Virginia, and has since revealed that he’s transferring to Vanderbilt.
Redshirt freshman defensive back Tae Mayo, redshirt freshman defensive back Tacorey Turner, junior defensive lineman Quay Mays and junior receiver Zack Dobson are other scholarship players from WVU who are also in the transfer portal.
Mays, a former junior college transfer, is the only one of those four who saw regular action for the Mountaineers this past season. He played in nine games and recorded four tackles as WVU’s top backup at nose tackle behind Darius Stills.
Mayo played in the 2020 opener and had one tackle, but left the team a few weeks after that. Neither Dobson, who transferred to West Virginia this past summer from Middle Tennessee State, nor Turner saw any game action in 2020.
Three walk-ons who were part of the Mountaineer program in ’20 have also departed – senior receiver Keion Wakefield, senior running back Lorenzo Dorr and redshirt sophomore quarterback Trent Jackson. Each hopes to find a new college team that will allow them to see more playing time next season. Dorr saw action for WVU on special teams in six games this past fall, though neither Wakefield nor Jackson got into a game.
So far, nine WVU players have announced their intentions to transfer, and there could always be more. At this point we don’t know of any others who will be seeking a new school, but it’s possible others may explore that option as well.
Of course the transfer trail runs both ways – some leave, others arrive.
Doug Nester, the offensive lineman who is originally from Spring Valley (W.Va.) High School, has already signed with WVU after spending the past two seasons at Virginia Tech. Having started 10 games as a true freshman for the Hokies in 2019 and seven this past season, the 6-foot-6, 327-pound Nester figures to be in the mix for a starting job at West Virginia this season, likely at guard though he also can play tackle.
West Virginia’s search for incoming transfers will not end with Nester. With five or six more scholarships still available for the Mountaineers in this class, most will likely be awarded to transfers who can have an immediate impact.
WVU head coach Neal Brown has said his squad would like to add a defensive lineman or two, at least one linebacker, a safety, a wide receiver and possibly another offensive lineman. Of course, a great player, no matter what the position, is always attractive.
Traditionally most transfers don’t arrive until the summer. Though Nester will enroll at WVU in time for the start of the spring semester on Jan. 19, he will likely be the only new transfer who will be in school in time to participate in spring practice. Last year, of the seven transfers Brown’s program added, six of them did not enroll at West Virginia until the summer, so this year’s search process will almost certainly last for another six or seven months.
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One familiar name from the past is currently in the transfer portal – Lamonte McDougle.
A native of Pompano Beach, Florida, the 5-foot-10, 295-pound defensive lineman was a freshman All-American at WVU in 2017 in which he had 23 tackles and two sacks.
Seeking more production, he transferred to Washington State after his one season with the Mountaineers. He sat out in 2018 as a transfer – back in the days when the NCAA used to make transfers sit a year in residency – and then had 14 tackles and 2.5 TFLs for WSU as a redshirt sophomore in 2019. He played in all 13 games but started just one for Mike Leach’s squad.
He opted out of the Cougars’ 2020 season (1-3), and he was in and out transfer portal a couple of times through the fall. He’s now in again, and his transfer this time could potentially take him to either Syracuse or Illinois.