Who Kentucky football is losing and adding through the transfer portal during offseason

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Mark Stoops
    American football player and coach

LEXINGTON - It is unlikely Kentucky football would be playing in the Citrus Bowl without the boost the one-time free transfer rule provided the program last offseason.

UK added four starters (quarterback Will Levis, wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, left tackle Dare Rosenthal and linebacker Jacquez Jones) through the transfer portal last offseason. Now, Mark Stoops and company will look to fill new holes on the roster with impact transfers this winter and spring.

Of course, the transfer portal goes both ways.

As Kentucky coaches look to add veterans to the roster, several Wildcats will look at other options for a variety of reasons. Many of those players will end up transferring to smaller schools in search of more consistent playing time, but others could have been impact players had they stayed in Lexington.

Kentucky football: What to know about Mark Stoops' new contract

Keep this page bookmarked throughout the offseason to see who Kentucky is adding and losing via the transfer portal.

Kentucky football incoming transfers

WR Tayvion Robinson (Virginia Tech)

Sep 18, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) runs after a catch during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Sep 18, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) runs after a catch during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

If Wan'Dale Robinson leaves UK for the NFL draft as expected, the Virginia Tech transfer with the same last name should provide a like-for-like replacement. Tayvion Robinson tallied 44 catches for 559 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore this season. He also returned punts for the Hokies.

OL Tashawn Manning (Auburn)

Auburn offensive lineman Tashawn Manning (56) walks off the field after the game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Auburn defeated Tennessee 30-17.
Auburn offensive lineman Tashawn Manning (56) walks off the field after the game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Auburn defeated Tennessee 30-17.

After serving as a key member of Auburn's offensive guard rotation the last two seasons, Manning entered the transfer portal to use his extra year of eligibility at another school. Manning started every game in 2020 at left guard then played primarily as a backup this fall. The 6-foot-4, 335-pound Florida native started his college career as a defensive lineman. With left guard Kenneth Horsey possibly moving to tackle and right guard Eli Cox likely to audition at center during spring practice, Manning could compete for a starting guard spot in 2022.

DL Darrion Henry-Young (Ohio State)

Ohio State Buckeyes defensive linemen Jacolbe Cowan (93) and Darrion Henry-Young (59) during football training camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive linemen Jacolbe Cowan (93) and Darrion Henry-Young (59) during football training camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

Rivals.com ranked Henry-Young as the No. 66 recruit in the high school class of 2020, but he played in just four games across two seasons at Ohio State. The Cincinnati native arrives at a position of need for Kentucky following the departure of senior defensive end Josh Paschal. Given his lack of experience, it would be dangerous to count on Henry-Young to be a starter next season, but he should factor in the defensive line rotation.

Javon Baker (Alabama)

Nov 6, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Alabama wide receiver Javon Baker (5) catches passes in the corner of the end zone as he warms up for the game with LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama wide receiver Javon Baker (5) catches passes in the corner of the end zone as he warms up for the game with LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky found its second wide receiver transfer with a commitment from Alabama sophomore Javon Baker on Jan. 21. Baker committed too late to enroll at UK for the spring semester but could compete for a starting job after arriving on campus in the summer. A former four-star recruit, Baker struggled to break into a loaded Alabama wide receiver rotation but caught seven passes for 101 yards and one touchdown last season.

Kentucky football recruiting: Sleeper? MVP? Instant impact? Meet the top signees in UK's 2022 class

Kentucky football outgoing transfers

OLB Marquez Bembry

Kentucky linebacker Marquez Bembry (42) celebrates stopping a Missouri drive late in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
Kentucky linebacker Marquez Bembry (42) celebrates stopping a Missouri drive late in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

A former junior-college transfer, Bembry spent his first two seasons at UK as an inside linebacker before moving to outside linebacker this fall. He appeared in all 12 regular season games, totaling nine tackles and one tackle for loss. A senior this season, Bembry will use his extra year of eligibility at another school.

LB Jared Casey (Indiana)

UK inside linebacker Jared Casey. Aug. 6, 2021
UK inside linebacker Jared Casey. Aug. 6, 2021

A Ballard High School graduate, Casey signed with Kentucky as a four-star prospect in the 2019 class. Casey started his UK career at outside linebacker before moving to inside linebacker. He totaled eight tackles and one quarterback hurry in 11 games this season but was passed on UK's depth chart by freshmen Trevin Wallace and Martez Thrower. On Jan. 8, Casey announced he had committed to Indiana.

RB Torrance Davis

Running back Torrance Davis participates in a drill during a Kentucky football practice in advance of the 2021 season.
Running back Torrance Davis participates in a drill during a Kentucky football practice in advance of the 2021 season.

A three-star running back prospect in the 2020 class, Davis started his UK career at linebacker before moving to running back. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Cleveland, Ohio native appeared in five games as a linebacker in 2020 but did not appear in a game for UK this fall.

CB Cedrick Dort (Wisconsin)

Kentucky defensive back Cedrick Dort Jr. takes a moment after failing to stop Georgia running back D'Andre Swift during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
Kentucky defensive back Cedrick Dort Jr. takes a moment after failing to stop Georgia running back D'Andre Swift during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

The first Kentucky starter to enter the portal, Dort placed his name in the portal five days after the Citrus Bowl, signaling he could use the extra year of eligibility granted all players due to the COVID-19 pandemic at another school. Dort started all 12 games in the regular season but came off the bench in the bowl game. He totaled 19 tackles this season but was not credited with any pass breakups or interceptions. Dort appeared in 44 games with 25 starts over the last four years. On Jan. 20, 247Sports reported Dort had committed to Wisconsin.

S Moses Douglass (Alabama A&M)

DB Moses Douglass tackles TE Justin Rigg during the University of Kentucky Spring blue-white football game at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky on Friday, April 12, 2019.
DB Moses Douglass tackles TE Justin Rigg during the University of Kentucky Spring blue-white football game at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky on Friday, April 12, 2019.

A former four-star recruit and the son of former Kentucky player Maurice Douglass, Moses Douglass was unable to break into the primary defensive back rotation in three years at Kentucky. He totaled six tackles in 14 games at Kentucky. Douglass appeared in four games this season with four total tackles. On Jan. 14, Douglass announced he had committed to Kent State, but a week later he announced he was enrolling at Alabama A&M, an FCS program.

WR Isaiah Epps (Tulsa)

Kentucky’s Isaiah Epps makes the grab for a first down against LSU.  Oct. 9, 2021
Kentucky’s Isaiah Epps makes the grab for a first down against LSU. Oct. 9, 2021

Epps opened the 2021 season as one of UK's three starting receivers after missing most of the previous two seasons with a foot injury. He totaled 10 catches in UK's first seven games but just one in the last five. Before entering the transfer portal, Epps had been ruled out of the Citrus Bowl due to injuries sustained in car accident. On Jan. 6, the Oklahoma native committed to Tulsa.

Kentucky football: Wan'Dale Robinson breaks Kentucky football record for catches in a single season

DL Isaiah Gibson (Marshall)

Kentucky defensive end Isaiah Gibson (96) and guard Austin Dotson (61) hold up the Governor's Cup following their victory over Louisville in an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
Kentucky defensive end Isaiah Gibson (96) and guard Austin Dotson (61) hold up the Governor's Cup following their victory over Louisville in an NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

Gibson entered preseason camp in a three-way battle with Octavious Oxendine and Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald for the starting defensive tackle job but quickly fell to third in the pecking order at that position. He totaled four tackles in six games this fall after tallying five tackles in nine games in 2020. Gibson committed to Marshall on Jan. 11.

OLB K.D. McDaniel (UCF)

McDaniel spent most of 2021 as a member of UK's thin outside linebacker rotation but was unable to seize a larger role even after injuries decimated the position. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Tifton, Georgia native totaled 11 tackles and three quarterback hurries in nine games during the regular season. After helping a short-handed Kentucky defense limit Iowa in the Citrus Bowl win, McDaniel announce he was transferring to Central Florida.

WR/TE Tre'Von Morgan

Michigan State wide receiver Tre'Von Morgan runs up field during the second half of a game against Iowa, Nov. 7, 2020, in Iowa City. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Michigan State wide receiver Tre'Von Morgan runs up field during the second half of a game against Iowa, Nov. 7, 2020, in Iowa City. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

One year after transferring from Michigan State to Kentucky, Morgan is back in the transfer portal after not playing in a game for the Wildcats this season. The 6-foot-6, 218-pound Ohio native arrived at UK as a wide receiver but moved to tight end midway through the season after recovering from multiple hamstring injuries. The position switch did not open a clearer path to the field for Morgan though with at four scholarship tight ends ahead of him on the depth chart.

OT Jake Pope

A 6-foot-7, 301-pound tackle, Pope did not appear in a game in three seasons at Kentucky. He missed the 2021 season with an undisclosed injury. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native signed with UK as a three-star recruit in the 2019 class.

QB Nik Scalzo (Samford)

One of three quarterbacks featured on season three of the Netflix show “QB1: Beyond the Lights,” Scalzo appeared in one game in three years at UK. Scalzo twice tore the same ACL and spent most of the 2019 and 2020 seasons rehabbing from that injury. He will play for former UK assistant coach Chris Hatcher at FCS Samford next season.

Kentucky football recruiting: Five-star Louisville native Kiyaunta Goodwin sticks with UK over Michigan St.

RB Travis Tisdale (Valdosta State)

Kentucky running back Travis Tisdale (33) runs with the ball during the second half of an NCAA college football game against UT Martin, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky running back Travis Tisdale (33) runs with the ball during the second half of an NCAA college football game against UT Martin, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.

Tisdale was considered one of the fastest players on Kentucky's roster but was unable to break into a crowded running back rotation in his three years at UK. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Valdosta, Georgia native tallied 12 carries for 82 yards and one touchdown as a Wildcat with one carry for 4 yards this season. On Jan. 11, he announced he was transferring to FCS Valdosta State.

OT Naasir Watkins (Liberty)

Two years ago, Watkins was expected to battle Darian Kinnard for Kentucky's starting right tackle job. Instead, a knee injury derailed Watkins' career while Kinnard developed into an All-American. Watkins was a key member of UK's offensive line rotation in 2018 and 2019 but played in just one game across the last two seasons. On Jan. 19, Liberty coach Hugh Freeze confirmed Watkins had joined his team.

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky football transfers: Who UK is adding, losing this offseason

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting