The transfer portal has been generous and cruel across the Power Five landscape, providing both a way to improve rosters while also creating position needs due to player exits. The ACC has been no different, with each member finding at least one addition ready to make an impact for the 2023 season.
In terms of quality, the ACC has three teams in the top 10 of the 247Sports Transfer Team Rankings for the 2023 cycle. Florida State (No. 6) and Miami (No. 7) have plugged holes in the depth chart with portal additions, while Louisville (No. 10) has seen a more dramatic roster overhaul in the wake of the coaching change that brought Jeff Brohm back to the Cardinals.
Not every team in the ACC has gone heavy in the portal this offseason, with Clemson and Wake Forest among the schools to see far less action than programs like Louisville or Georgia Tech. Still, we've identified at least one notable transfer for each team heading into the 2023 season, starting with some of the biggest names we expect to have an instant impact.
Florida State CB Fentrell Cypress II
Mike Norvell has built Florida State back into an ACC title contender with key transfer portal additions that have bolstered the roster and powered last year's 10-win campaign. This year's top-10 transfer class is headlined by former Virginia cornerback Fentrell Cypress II, who was rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in the portal. Cypress led the ACC in pass breakups last season in just nine games of action -- his 1.6 pass breakups per game average led the nation -- on the way to All-ACC honors and plenty of portal interest when he made his transfer intentions official. He is one of four players in the top 20 of the transfer portal rankings on the Florida State roster, joining tight end Jaheim Bell from South Carolina, wide receiver Keon Coleman from Michigan State and defensive lineman Braden Fiske from Western Michigan.
North Carolina WR Devontez Walker
The offensive fire sale at Kent State sent a head coach, quarterback and two wide receivers on to new homes in power conferences, but the excitement around Walker's role with the Tar Heels took on a new level after spring practice. Walker was the No. 6 player in the transfer portal rankings, and the opportunity to catch passes from a future NFL Draft pick Drake Maye served as a stellar recruiting pitch for coach Mack Brown. With Josh Downs off to the NFL Draft, there are plenty of receptions available and Walker has made it clear he's in the mix to be the alpha of the wide receiver room this fall. North Carolina also added wide receiver Nate McCollum from Georgia Tech, and with a wave of exits in the secondary, found some reinforcements with a four-star, top-200 transfer in Alijah Huzzie from East Tennessee State.
Miami OL Javion Cohen
A reworked offensive line and new offensive coordinator play a big part in the hope that quarterback Tyler Van Dyke will take some big steps forward in 2023 after a disappointing sophomore season for the former ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year. Cohen arrives from Alabama carrying not only his blue-chip prospect rating out of high school but a high-end reassessment as the No. 10 player in the transfer portal ankings. Cohen will be joined on the interior of the offensive line by highly-touted transfer Matt Lee from UCF (No. 26 in the portal player rankings). Coach Mario Cristobal also picked up key defensive pieces with top-100 transfers Francisco Mauigoa from Washignton State, defensive lineman Branson Deen from Purdue and cornerback Davonte Brown from UCF.
Virginia Tech WR Ali Jennings
Second-year coach Brent Pry does not have a transfer class loaded up with quantity like some others in the conference, but he found some real quality with the in-state addition of former Old Dominion WR Ali Jennings. The No. 31 player in the transfer rankings led the Sun Belt in touchdown receptions and ranked third nationally in receiving yards per game last season. It's a much-needed boost for a Virginia Tech passing attack that ranked No. 109 nationally in yards per game (203.3) and No. 122 with nine passing touchdowns last season.
NC State QB Brennan Armstrong
With Devin Leary at Kentucky and gifted underclassman MJ Morris early in his development journey, NC State may have found the perfect bridge quarterback with Armstrong. In the 2021 season, Armstrong was one of just two players in the country to average more than 400 passing yards per game, and his 4,700 yards of total offense were third only to Western Kentucky's Bailey Zappe and Alabama's Bryce Young, the Heisman Trophy winner for that season. A much-hyped encore in 2022 fell flat as Virginia underwent a coaching change, but Armstrong's arrival at NC State includes a reunion with offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who was on Bronco Mendenhall's Virginia staff during that prolific season.
Louisville WR Jamari Thrash
Among the more than two dozen transfers brought in by Brohm, the Cardinals' quarterback room arguably got the most attention. QB Jack Plummer played for Brohm at Purdue, transferred to Cal and now reunites with his former coach as the expected starter. But the top transfer, and a huge key to Plummer's success, is Thrash. The All-Sun Belt selection left Georgia State as one of the most productive wide receivers in program history, ranking fifth in receiving yards (1,752), eighth in receptions (104) and sixth in touchdown catches (12). Thrash is ranked No. 59 overall in the transfer portal player rankings (No. 13 among wide receivers). When you consider the success of former Purdue stars Rondale Moore, David Bell and Charlie Jones, it's easy to see why a talented wide receiver would want to link up with Brohm.
Top transfers for remaining ACC teams
Boston College WR Ryan O'Keefe: Zay Flowers is not going to be replaced by any one player, but O'Keefe provides the threat of top-end speed that can stretch defenses. O'Keefe was UCF's second-leading receiver in 2022 with 725 yards and five touchdowns, while also serving as the top kickoff return specialist.
Clemson QB Paul Tyson: This may be a stretch for "instant impact" as no one expects Tyson, the great grandson of Bear Bryant, to challenge Cade Klubnik for the starting job. But what Tyson, who arrives at Clemson after a couple years at Alabama and a one-year stop at Arizona State, can bring is great experience and leadership to the quarterback room as new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley builds out the Tigers' new offense.
Duke DB Al Blades Jr.: A blue-chip prospect coming out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with deep family ties to the Miami program, Blades arrives at Duke hungry to recapture the promise that was on display coming out of high school and in his early years at "The U." Blades already has 49 career games and 15 starts under his belt, giving coach Mike Elko the kind of talent-experience combo that will benefit the Blue Devils.
Georgia Tech QB Haynes King: In his career at Texas A&M, King totaled 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with some performances — like nearly knocking off Alabama in 2022 — that showed glimpses of that blue-chip rating as a high school prospect. Others — like a woeful showing in an upset loss to Appalachian State — indicated why coach Jimbo Fisher sought other options at quarterback. King has to beat out redshirt freshman Zach Pyron and Zach Gibson (a transfer last year from Akron) but coach Brent Key has added a player with pedigree to his quarterback room.
Pitt QB Phil Jurkovec: According to the 247Sports transfer rankings, the top player in the Panthers' transfer class is defensive back Donovan McMillon from Florida. But Jurkovec runiting with offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. makes the intraconference transfer from Boston College the one to note for Pat Narduzzi's squad.
Syracuse DB Jaeden Gould: A top-200 transfer from Nebraska, Gould is a key piece in a total overhaul of the Orange secondary. A group that's lost three starters needs Gould to be ready to contribute, even if the former New Jersey High School Player of the Year has only appeared in one game at the college level.
Virginia QB Tony Muskett: While Jay Woolfolk is currently trying to help Virginia's baseball team reach the College World Series as one the team's top relief pitchers, his competition in the quarterback battle has been making a good impression in Charlottesville. Muskett was a two-time all-conference selection at Monmouth, where he placed himself among the most productive quarterbacks in program history. He's a strong downfield passer, which should be a welcome sign for a team that ranked No. 129 nationally in plays of 20-plus yards.
Wake Forest LB Jacob Roberts: Two-time FCS All-American selection at North Carolina A&T, also named Celebration Bowl Defensive MVP honors after helping the Aggies take down Alcorn State for the HBCU national championship. Wake Forest's defense ranked 13th in the ACC in yards per play allowed last season, so all the help they can get on that side of the ball is a bonus.