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NCAA transfer portal tracker: Texas reportedly a potential landing spot for Texas A&M DL transfer Walter Nolen

The transfer portal is now officially open and there’s already plenty of movement and intrigue.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Despite an emphasis on high school football recruiting, Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are already aware of needs in the NCAA transfer portal as the transfer window opened for 30 days on Monday.

Those needs include high-priority positions like wide receiver and defensive line and a handful of other positions where the Longhorns could look to add potential starters or contributors — Sarkisian has taken between five and seven transfers in each of his first three cycles on the Forty Acres and could hit the low end of those numbers to buttress the 2024 recruiting class.

Here’s a look at players who look like potential fits as the Texas personnel department solidifies its targets in the coming days.


Wide receivers

The Longhorns could take two wide receivers from the portal with the biggest need a proven contributor who could step into the No. 1 or No. 2 role next season. At a deep position, players with ties to the state stand out.

South Carolina’s Juice Wells

The name mosts closely linked to Texas so far is South Carolina’s Juice Wells, a James Madison transfer who played with former Longhorns linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey. A 6’1, 208-pounder, Wells will be one of the top wide receivers in the portal when his decision becomes official after recording 68 catches for 928 yards and six touchdowns last season in Columbia. Wells missed almost the entirety of the 2023 season after suffering a preseason left foot injury that required surgery during preseason camp.

[Update 12/5 5:20 p.m. Central]: Buzz continues around the Longhorns and Wells.

Notre Dame’s Braylon James

The Austin-area product was a top-150 prospect nationally out of the Austin area in the 2023 recruiting class before catching one pass for 12 yards this season for the Fighting Irish. As a former Texas target, the staff is familiar with James, who fits the profile of a player who could want to return to the Lone Star State.

Boise State’s Eric McAlister

A big-bodied wide receiver at 6’4, 201 pounds, McAlister was a consensus mid-three star prospect from Azle in the 2021 recruiting class who is now one of the top pass catchers in the portal after a breakout season for the Broncos — 47 catches for 873 yards and five touchdowns.

McAlister has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Notre Dame’s Chris Tyree

Though Tyree is from Virginia, he’s on the radar of standout recruiter Jeff Banks after entering the portal earlier this week. Ranked as the No. 1 all-purpose back in the 2020 recruiting class, Tyree had his best season in 2023 with 26 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns while adding value on kickoff returns with over 1,000 career kickoff return yards and a touchdown in 2022.

[Update 12/5 5:20 p.m. Central]: Tyree is heading back to Virginia.

UTEP’s Kelly Akharaiyi

Out of Irving Macarthur in the 2019 class, Akharaiyi went to Tyler Junior College before landing in West Texas. After modest production last season, the 6’1, 194-pounder had a monster 2023 campaign with 48 catches for 1,033 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s already a hot name in the portal after entering on Thursday, picking up offers from Mississippi State, Kansas State, USF, and a handful of other programs.

Texas Tech’s Jerand Bradley [Update: 12/1 10:55 a.m.]

A DeSoto product who signed with the Red Raiders in the 2021 recruiting class, Bradley saw his production regress from 2022 to 2023 and is a bigger receiver than Sarkisian typically prefers, but there’s no question that he’s talented and fits the mold of a potential take since he’s from the state.

Purdue’s Deion Burks [Update 12/4 7:31 p.m. Central]

The Longhorns have reportedly offered the Boilermakers transfer, who had a breakout redshirt sophomore season with 47 catches for 629 yards and seven touchdowns.

Tight ends

With only one four-star transfer officially in the portal as of Thursday, this is a position of medium priority that may be tough to address.

San Diego State’s Mark Redman

Currently On3’s top-ranked tight end in the portal, Redman was productive for the Aztecs over the last two seasons after starting his career at Washington.

UCLA’s Carsen Ryan

Ryan turned in a solid season for the Bruins with 13 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns. A big question surrounding the Utah native is whether he decides to return home to play for the Utes or the Cougars.

Arizona State’s Jalin Conyers [Update: 12/1 11:00 a.m.]

From Gruver in the 2020 recruiting class, Conyers signed with Oklahoma before growing into a productive tight end over the last two seasons.

Defensive tackle

Another difficult position to fill in the portal, there will be intense competition for every impact defensive tackle.

Harvard’s Thor Griffith

Productive and athletic, Griffith already holds offers from Cal, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Oregon State, and UCLA.

Duke’s Aeneas Peebles

Although Peebles is relatively undersized at 6’1, 285 pounds, he was extremely productive for Duke in 2023 with 40 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks. Will he follow head coach Mike Elko to Texas A&M or make a decision from the open market?

Texas A&M’s Walter Nolen [Update 12/4 7:31 p.m. Central]

The former No. 2 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class is expected to enter the portal after Texas A&M defensive line coach Elijah Robinson accepted the defensive coordinator position at Syracuse. After recording 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks this season, Nolen would become a rare interior lineman in the portal with a combination of recruiting pedigree and production in college. Expect the Longhorns to enter the mix for the 6’4, 290-pounder if he follows through on his intentions to enter the portal.

[Update 12/6 4:15 p.m. Central]: Nolen is officially in the portal and Texas is considered a potential landing spot:

Edge

Entering the transfer window, edge wasn’t necessarily a need position, but a player entered the portal on Tuesday that Texas would be wise to evaluate.

UTSA’s Trey Moore [Updated: 12/5 12:07 p.m. Central]

The redshirt sophomore from San Antonio had a breakout 2022 season and then earned AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors thanks to a monster 2023 campaign with 17.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks, three passes broken up, one interception, and one forced fumble. A source close to Moore told Burnt Orange Nation last year that Moore was considering entering the portal and had interest in Texas, but he remained at UTSA after head coach Jeff Traylor complained about other programs tampering with his players. Although Traylor repeated those complaints recently, it didn’t stop Moore from exploring his options on this open market this year. The development of sophomore Ethan Burke on the edge this year decreased the need at the position for the Longhorns, but Moore is too good not to contact and try to get on campus.

Linebacker

At linebacker, the question is whether Texas tries to target a potential starter or adds someone who profiles as a contributor like Tucker-Dorsey.

Princeton’s Ozzie Nicholas

Productive and possessing prototypical size, the California product is currently one of the top linebackers in the portal.

Miami’s Corey Flagg Jr.

The North Shore product had strong 2021 and 2022 seasons, leading the Canes with 60 tackles in 2021 while adding seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and one interception. Last year, Flagg tied for the team lead with 10.5 tackles for loss. Flagg wasn’t a highly-ranked recruit out of high school largely due to his lack of ideal size, but he’s proven he can make an impact at the Power Five level.

Safety

With three seniors eligible to return for another season, Texas may move slowly at the safety position until there’s more roster certainty.

Tulsa’s Jaise Oliver

Hailing from Fairfield, Oliver is an impressive-looking player at 6’2, 203 pounds and is considered one of the top safeties in the portal after recording four interceptions, six passes broken up, and one interception in 2023 to go along with 48 tackles.

Ohio State’s Cameron Martinez [Update 12/4 7:31 p.m. Central]

Texas is one of the teams to express early interest in the former consensus four-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. Martinez had 40 tackles and an interception for the Buckeyes over the last three seasons, but only appeared in three games this year.

Clemson’s Andrew Mukua [Update 12/5 12:07 p.m. Central]

Mukuba signed with Clemson out of Austin LBJ in the 2021 class as a significant miss for Texas and turned in there productive seasons for the Tigers, including 42 tackles, two tackles for loss, and six pass broken up this year. There’s now an even deeper tie for Mukuba to the Longhorns than simply growing up in Austin — Texas hired his high school coach, Jahmal Fenner, as the program’s Director of High Schools Relations last January. This one would make sense for both sides.