With less than four weeks until the February signing period, college football’s version of free agency is in full swing as the transfer portal has seen a number of high-profile Conference USA stalwarts depart for their next opportunity.
Expect to see several C-USA teams look to offset the losses with players from the portal, looking for veteran players who can step in and contribute immediately. Let’s take a look at Conference USA’s 10 biggest losses to the portal to date.
10. Jurriente Davis
Former Middle Tennessee State linebacker Jurriente Davis was one of the top performers on a Blue Raider defense that closed the season among the top third in Conference USA overall. The JUCO product had 71 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks during his lone season in Murfreesboro. Especially for a defense that loses standouts Reed Blankenship and DQ Thomas, the departure of Davis will be felt as he now resides in Jackson and will play for Deion Sanders’ Tigers.
9. Antonio Montero
Antonio Montero is latest in a string of Rice players over the last half decade to hit the transfer portal looking for greener pastures after making a name for themselves in Houston. The 6-0, 220-pound Minnesota native started 29 games over his four seasons with the Owls and racked up over 200 tackles during his career. Last season, Montero led the team in tackles for loss (9.5) in only nine contests and was third on the team in tackles with 60.
8. Kris Moll
Former UAB defensive back Kristopher Moll was banged up by injuries during his first season as a safety after an excellent career as a linebacker. However, the Miami native is still one of the more talented defensive players among the Group of Five ranks and should make an impact at his next stop.
During his last full season, Moll had 102 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2019 — earning him several postseason and preseason honors entering 2020 and 2021. When healthy, Moll is a player who is capable of playing at an NFL level.
7. Shannon “Beanie” Bishop
Beanie Bishop rounded into one of the top defensive backs in Conference USA in 2021. The Louisville native earned postseason recognition as a first-team defensive back and as an honorable mention kick returner last year. Bishop started all 12 contests and tallied 42 tackles, including 33 solos with three interceptions and served as the Tops primary kick retuner. His loss will be felt especially with veterans DeAngelo Malone, Antwon Kincade and Juwan Jones moving on to the NFL.
6. Mitchell Tinsley
While Jerreth Sterns garnered most of the recognition last season in Western Kentucky’s record-breaking season, JUCO transfer Mitchell Tinsley was the Hilltoppers big-play threat in the passing game. After leading the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns during a subpar passing year in 2020, the Missouri native hauled in 87 receptions for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Tinsley entered the portal shortly after the Boca Raton Bowl and signed with Penn State in late December. The loss of Tinsley will be felt especially with Sterns and Ben Ratzlaff departing as well.
5. Miles Frazier
After earning the start in the final game of the 2020 season, Miles Frazier became a bookend left tackle for the Panthers in 2021. The former three-star prospect started all 12 games for FIU last season and was graded by Pro Football Focus as the team’s top offensive lineman and among one of the top players in Conference USA. At 6-5, 315 pounds, Frazier was just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential as a freshman — leading to the New Jersey native receiving several Power Five offers and now a member of the LSU Tigers.
4. Antonio Moultrie
After beginning high school career as a defensive back, redshirt junior Antono Moultrie an athletic 6-4, 280-pound defensive lineman who had a breakout season in 2021. Capable of playing inside or on the edge, Moultrie had 62 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks last season. Bill Clark’s UAB teams have always been able to field excellent defensive units, but the loss of Moulture will be felt next season.
3. Grant Wells
Grant Wells’ Marshall career will probably be remembered as enigmatic — at best. After two seasons as the starter in Huntington, Wells entered the transfer portal earlier this week and as first reported by our Emily Van Buskirk, the West Virginia native found his next stop in the ACC and Virgnia Tech.
The 6-2, 205-pounder led the Thundering Herd to back-to-back bowl berths, throwing for 5,626 yards with 34 touchdowns. However, Wells’ untimely subpar performances resulted in five multiple-interception outings and in his final contest with Marshall, he went 15-of-26 for 99 yards with an interception in a New Orleans Bowl loss to Lousiana. Wells still is a player who feels as if he hasn’t scratched the surface of his potential — and the loss will be felt by the Herd.
2. Mason Brooks
The final Hilltopper on this list comes in the form of two-year starting tackle Mason Brooks. The 6-6, 320-pound Texan was a two-star recruit coming out of high school, but has blossomed into one of the top offensive linemen in C-USA over the past two years. After being rated by Pro Football Focus as an all-conference first-teamer, he earned the first-team honors from the conference. Brooks has started the last 25 games for Western Kentucky and has garnered interest from multiple Power Five programs.
1. Jacob Cowing
A lightly-recruited two-star prospect out of Maricopa, Arizona in 2019, former UTEP wideout Jacob Cowing has been at the center of the football resurgence in El Paso. The 5-11, 175-pound Cowing led the Miners in receiving in each of his three seasons, culminating with 69 catches for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Cowing had eight 100-yard receiving in 2021 and 13 for his career, despite being the focal point of opposing defenses. The loss of Cowing will be felt as UTEP looks to build on their seven-win campaign, with the Arizona native returning home to play for the Wildcats.