Transfers can often times be the great equalizer, both junior college transfers and major college transfers.
It’s safe to say that Cam Newton made a difference on Auburn’s 2010 national championship team. And for that matter, so did Nick Fairley. Both were junior college transfers.
A year ago, cornerback DeQuan Menzie was a stabilizing force in Alabama’s defensive secondary and one of the Crimson Tide’s most dependable players on their 2011 national championship team. Menzie was also a junior college transfer.
Terrence Cody, yet another junior college transfer, was a major part of Alabama’s 2009 national championship defense.
Who will be those impact transfers in 2012 that make a difference? Here are 10 to watch in the SEC. They’re listed alphabetically:
Denico Autry, DE, Mississippi State: One of the most heralded junior college prospects in the country, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Autry made quite an impression this spring. He’s an explosive pass-rusher the Bulldogs hope will give them the edge pressure they lacked last season.
Deion Belue, CB, Alabama: It didn’t take Belue long to make his presence felt this spring. He took an interception back 97 yards for a touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s first scrimmage. Belue’s a quick learner and one of the favorites to start at the other cornerback opposite Dee Milliner.
Pierce Burton, OT, Ole Miss: He started his career at San Jose State and then transferred to City College of San Francisco. It looked like Burton would continue his career at Florida, but Hugh Freeze was able to sway him to Ole Miss. Burton was good enough this spring that he’ll go into the season as the Rebels’ starting right tackle.
Austin Flynn, DE, Arkansas: The Hogs already needed some pass-rushing help at end with Jake Bequette departing. That need was only magnified after Tenarius Wright moved to linebacker this spring. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Flynn was a big get out of junior college and showed the kind of strength and power this spring that could make him an immediate starter.
Damien Jacobs, DT, Florida: Originally committed to Tennessee out of East Mississippi Community College, Jacobs changed his mind and signed with the Gators. Florida coach Will Muschamp liked what he saw this spring and thinks the 6-foot-3, 310-pound Jacobs will be a big part of the rotation at tackle this fall.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee: The expectations get loftier by the day for Patterson, who joins an already talented Tennessee receiving corps. The 6-foot-4 Patterson recently weighed in at 225 pounds and has track speed. He wasn’t on campus in time to go through spring practice, but scored 24 touchdowns last season at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.
Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn: The Tigers were looking for that enforcer in their running game, and they think they’ve found him in the 253-pound Prosch. A transfer from Illinois, Prosch was granted a waiver by the NCAA and will be eligible to play this season. He’s a battering ram as a blocker and also an excellent special teams player.
Darrington Sentimore, DE, Tennessee: Had Sentimore not landed in the doghouse at Alabama toward the end of the 2010 season, he’d probably be starting for the Crimson Tide this fall. Instead, he’s expected to bolster the Vols’ defensive line as they move to a 3-4 scheme. Sentimore reunites with Sal Sunseri after spending last season at Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College.
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss: Wallace was the national junior college player of the year last season and set all sorts of junior college records, including 53 touchdown passes at East Mississippi Community College. He will continue his battle with Barry Brunetti for the Rebels’ starting quarterback job this preseason.
Brandon Williams, RB, Texas A&M: The Aggies were already excited about getting Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma. But then he went out and put on a show this spring, further whetting everyone’s appetite in College Station. The only question is whether the 6-foot, 192-pound Williams will be eligible this fall. The Aggies expect an answer from the NCAA in August.