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3-Point Stance

3-Point Stance Insta - Jared Verse

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National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with the top DEs landed in the portal, reasons why Michigan State is the sleeper to watch in the Big Ten East and the Group of Five teams with the best chance to mirror Cincinnati.

— Let’s continue the look at the best commitments from the transfer portal with the defensive ends.

1. Jared Verse (Florida State)

One of the most sought-after guys in the portal, Verse switched positions at Albany from tight end to edge rusher and completely blew up. An FCS Freshman All-American, he finished 2021 with 10.5 sacks, 13 hurries, and 53 tackles. He's got big shoes to fill after the departure of Jermaine Johnson, but he's up to the task.

2. Khris Bogle (Michigan State)

This is one of my biggest sleepers in this year's portal class. He was a top-100 guy coming out of high school in 2019, and has tons of potential that didn't completely blossom in Gainesville. With Jacob Slade needing to be constantly double-teamed, he has a chance to go for double-digit sacks this season for the Spartans.

3. Jared Ivey (Ole Miss)

As a redshirt freshman in 2021, Ivey showed some serious flashes in a rotational role for Georgia Tech. He'll have a chance to play a bigger role for an Ole Miss team that will need to replace Sam Wiliams.

4. Landon Jackson (Arkansas)

A four-star kid in the 2021 class, he's got a phenomenal frame at 6'7" and 275lbs. This is an upside play, as he has all the physical tools you could want in a 3-4 DE.

5. Xavier Carlton (Cal)

Carlton is another young guy with a lot of promise, and after two years at Utah, the former four-star will go to a Cal team where they really know how to maximize the talents of their defensive players. It will be interesting to see how he's used in Justin Wilcox's 3-4 scheme.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Let’s continue finding the best sleeper in each Power Five division with the Big Ten East and five reasons why Michigan State can surprise.

1. Mel Tucker

Let’s start with the coach who took over w middling program and led them to a playoff run this past season. If you’ve watched Michigan State play (aside from the Ohio State game) this is a team that competes the entire game and clearly has a chip on their shoulder because of the leadership of their head coach.

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2. The Running Game

That running game — Kenneth Walker III is gone but don’t worry Spartans fans as Jarek Broussard and Jalen Berger transfer in to form a great 1-2 punch. It’s doubtful anyone can do what Walker did in one year as a transfer but these two are both potential RB1 talents.

3. Steady QB Play

Payton Thorne. Not a name you think of when talking about the elite QBs in the country right? But he’s pretty efficient throwing the ball with 27 touchdowns and 10 picks last season. And the good news? His 60-percent completion rate isn’t great and will undoubtedly improve and I expect him to cut down on the interceptions. He has superstar WR Jayden Reed to bail him out as well.

4. The Portal

Tucker was the king of the portal in the 2020 cycle and he’s done well again this time around. In addition to Broussard and Berger he brings in elite DE Khris Bogle, CB Ameer Speed and LB Aaron Brule all from the SEC. Each should make a big impact.

5. Improved Defense

Last year wasn’t a great defensive year for Michigan State despite their ball control offense. This is a team that gave up more than 25 points per game and a ton of yards. These numbers are skewed a bit by the Ohio State blowout where they gave up 56 points and the Purdue loss where they gave up 40 but even in some key wins against Penn State, Western Kentucky and Michigan they have up 27 or more points. This should change as they return a lot of talent and add key components like the added pass rush of Bogle.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]— and finally here are five teams who have an outside shot, a very very outside shot, at pulling a Group of Five run soon.

In the past decade, we've seen programs like Boise State, UCF, and most recently Cincinnati make some serious noise from the Group of 5 level and break into the national conversation. Here's a list of five more Group of Five programs that could make the leap.

1. SMU

We all know about SMU's heyday and the ensuing death penalty that occurred. One of the biggest reasons for putting them this high on the list though is because SMU has the advantage of being in Dallas, one of the best recruiting territories in the country. Their proximity to high-level talent and a wide-open offense puts them in prime position to make the leap. Rhett Lashlee and Tanner Mordecai will make sure the offense is potent again (unless Preston Stone pulls a surprise) and it will come down to defensive play and a big game against TCU in game four.

2. Memphis

Memphis has made huge gains as a program, having now made a bowl game in nine consecutive seasons and not having any real dips despite having their two previous coaches jump to Power 5 jobs. Ryan Silverfield has proven that he's a great offensive mind, and they've been putting multiple skill players in the pros almost every year.

3. UTSA

One of the best stories from last season, the Roadrunners are poised to make huge gains over the coming years. Like SMU, they're in a talent-rich state but unlike SMU, they've got the town of San Antonio to themselves. The biggest issue for them going forward is going to be holding on to Jeff Traylor - he's extraordinarily highly regarded, especially among Texas high school coaches, so if the administration can keep him around, they should be able to get better and better recruits year over year.

4. San Diego State

The Aztecs have been among the most consistent winning programs in the past decade, having gone bowling every year since 2010, and hitting double digits in the win column in five of the last six full seasons. They've proven they can really develop guys as well, and if they're able to get 1-2 real game-breakers, especially at the quarterback position, they could take off.

5. UAB

The Blazers have done an incredible job resurrecting their program after having their team eliminated by the university after the 2014 season. Since returning in 2017, they have been to a bowl game every year (except for the pandemic season where they opted not to participate) and have won two conference championships. Of course they'll always be in the shadow of Alabama and Auburn, but there's plenty of talent in the state of Alabama and Bill Clark has proven that he's one heck of a coach.

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