High-profile players from around the country migrated to SEC programs in the offseason via the NCAA transfer portal, bringing with them hopes of national championship glory and a path to the NFL. While every program in the conference was able to tap into the portal to bolster their roster, it was some of the more notable teams in the league who made some of the biggest waves by adding players who could contribute in a significant way from the jump.
Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss brought in experienced quarterbacks, while Georgia stayed within the conference to add a wide receiver it hopes will provide the offense with even more firepower as the Bulldogs seek a historic three-peat in the 2023 college football season. Reigning SEC West champion LSU, meanwhile, focused on the defensive side of the ball with one of its biggest pickups of the offseason.
As the countdown to the kickoff inches closer, let's look at the SEC's top five transfers who are ready to shine right away at their new homes, followed by an examination of the top transfer from each remaining team in the league.
Georgia WR Dominic Lovett
Lovett's decision to leave Missouri for Georgia didn't send shockwaves throughout college football, but make no mistake, it's one of the most important moves of the offseason. He led the Tigers in receiving with 846 yards in 12 games and finished fifth in the conference in receiving yards per game at 70.5. His presence on the outside is a boon for a Bulldogs' passing game -- that'll be breaking in a new starting quarterback -- after the running backs and tight ends did a majority of the heavy lifting last year.
Alabama QB Tyler Buchner
The Crimson Tide are tasked with replacing one of their all-time great players in Bryce Young. Jalen Milroe had some success when injuries forced him into duty last season, but he didn't exactly set the world on fire with his arm. Ty Simpson has the arm talent to be successful but lacks experience. Buchner and new Tide offensive coordinator Tommy Rees come over together from Notre Dame, so the learning curve should be minimal for Alabama's newest quarterback as the Tide look to climb back atop the SEC West.
LSU DB Denver Harris
Harris, a former Texas A&M defensive back, was the No. 2 transfer in the country, according to 247Sports. He'll immediately improve a secondary that was in need of a jolt after a shaky performance in 2022. He carries some baggage after disciplinary issues with the Aggies, but coach Brian Kelly said that he and his staff fully vetted Harris before bringing him in. He should settle in as not only a starter but has the potential to be one of the most impactful players in the conference.
Auburn QB Payton Thorne
First-year Tigers coach Hugh Freeze arrived on the Plains with one goal in mind: kickstart an underperforming offense. The passing game needed the most help, which is why Freeze lured Thorne away from Michigan State. Thorne threw for 6,493 yards and rushed for 270 yards in 29 games for the Spartans. He will have to battle with incumbent starter Robby Ashford during fall camp, but Thorne should have a leg up with Freeze looking to air it out in his return to the SEC.
Ole Miss QB Spencer Sanders
Coach Lane Kiffin has created a quarterback "Hunger Games" of sorts by luring Sanders and former LSU signal-caller Walker Howard to Oxford, Mississippi, to compete with returning starter Jaxson Dart. Sanders is, by far, the most accomplished of the three. He racked up 9,552 yards passing, 1,956 yards rushing and accounted for 85 touchdowns in four seasons with Oklahoma State. Plus, he led the Cowboys to within an inch -- literally -- of winning the 2021 Big 12 title and earning a potential berth in the College Football Playoff. He's the favorite to earn the top spot on the depth chart during fall camp. At the very least, he raises the competition level in the quarterback room.
Top transfers for remaining SEC teams
Arkansas DB Jaheim Singletary: The Razorbacks defense was atrocious last season, especially against the pass, finishing last in the nation after giving up 294.7 yards per game through the air. Singletary, a former four-star prospect who originally signed with Georgia, will give the secondary a much-needed boost.
Florida OT Kiyaunta Goodwin: The former five-star prospect from Kentucky is in the perfect position to make an immediate impact as Florida looks to replace four key offensive linemen from last year's squad. If the Gators are going to have success under center with either Jack Miller III or Graham Mertz, Goodwin is going to have to live up to the hype.
Kentucky QB Devin Leary: It took about 2 seconds to select Leary as the Wildcats' most impactful transfer. Former starter Will Levis moved on to the NFL, which left coach Mark Stoops a chance to market immediate playing time in his pitch to signal callers from the portal. Leary threw for 6,807 yards and 62 touchdowns in four seasons with the Wolfpack.
Mississippi State WR Freddie Roberson: The Bulldogs needed help at receiver after RaRa Thomas left for Georgia. They got it with Roberson, a veteran who shined at Eastern Washington. The redshirt "super senior" amassed 141 catches for 2,266 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in four seasons.
Missouri OL Cam'Ron Johnson: Johnson was a first-team All-AAC honoree at Houston, and he jumps to a Tigers squad that needs a ton of help up front. Mizzou finished last in the SEC and 125th in the nation in tackles for loss allowed (101) in 2022.
South Carolina TE Trey Knox: Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler got one of the best security-blanket tight ends in the country in Knox. The former Arkansas star hauled in 26 passes for 296 yards and five touchdowns for the Razorbacks last year. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder will have a chance to show out in a Gamecocks offense that heavily features the tight end position.
Tennessee WR Dont'e Thornton: Tennessee softened the blow of losing Biletnikoff Award winner Jalin Hyatt and veteran Cedric Tillman at receiver. Thornton had 366 yards and a touchdown for the Ducks in 2022, and the speedster should get plenty of targets in the Volunteers' wide-open offense.
Texas A&M DB Tony Grimes: The Aggies lost a small village of players in the transfer portal, but Grimes' addition is a home run. The former North Carolina star tallied 97 tackles and one interception in three seasons with the Tar Heels. He's one of those players opposing offensive players try to avoid at all costs.
Vanderbilt LB Prince Kollie: The pool of potential transfers is smaller for Vanderbilt than at other places, but Kollie is one of the more notable in the league. He ranked No. 93 overall in the Class of 2021. High-profile recruits almost never land at Vanderbilt, so he should give a huge boost to the Commodore defense.