There are a lot of good fights on the schedule for the rest of 2021, but there are a lot of good matchups still waiting to be made — some fights that have been talked about, and some that haven’t.
Former two-division world champion and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. picked 10 fights that he would like to see, based on the type of matchups that could help these fighters solidify their legacies.
“Sugar Ray Leonard didn’t become great until he had the right matchups,” Bradley said. “Muhammad Ali didn’t become ‘The Greatest’ until he got the right matchups. It’s not about just winning fights, it’s who you beat, that’s what legacy is all about. I think some of the matchups I picked are for that, fighters that need each other to give great fights and build or solidify their legacy. This is what boxing should be and I believe these fights are the type of matchups that could make fighters legends.”
1. Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr. at welterweight
Terence Crawford says a megafight with Errol Spence Jr. is inevitable and vows to defeat the unified champion when the time comes.
Overview: The winner will be the No. 1 welterweight in the world, and have a strong case to be called the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Crawford, stylistically, is the best fighter on the planet. Spence, as of right now, is considered by a lot of people to be the best welterweight on the planet. He can move, he can fight southpaw, he can switch things up, he has power on both hands, he has supreme timing. Spence is bigger, some would say stronger and has the will to win, just as much as Crawford does. Spence has supreme determination, excellent conditioning, throws punches in volume and lands with heavy shots. Spence is very dangerous with a lot of power in his hands.
Who wins: This is a 50-50 fight. I would have to go with the guy that does more inside the ring, and that’s “Bud” Crawford. Spence is a big southpaw, yes, and we saw Spence alter his game when he fought Mikey Garcia, but I think Crawford is a little smarter inside the ring than Spence.
2. Canelo Alvarez vs. Andre Ward, at super middleweight or light heavyweight
Overview: Alvarez recently showed that he’s levels above anyone near his weight class, anywhere from 168 to 175 pounds, and his skill set has improved immensely over the last few years. I remember talking a few years back about Canelo not being able to deliver a KO for the fans, and in 3 of his last 4 fights, he has produced knockouts against Billy Joe Saunders, Avni Yildirim and Sergey Kovalev.
It’s going to take a guy just as good as he is to beat him. A guy that boxes the same way inside the ring, not only fighting on the outside, but fighting inside. A guy that’s a little bigger than he is. And I think that guy is Andre Ward — he’s a guy that when his back is against the wall, he will deliver. Ward is 6-foot, cerebral and confident enough to withstand whatever Alvarez is dishing out.
Right now, Ward has been out of the game for some time (his last fight was in June 2017), so I’m sure many people will question me saying Ward can compete with Alvarez. But I’ve known Andre since he was a kid, I’ve been in the ring with him as an amateur, I’ve seen him grow. I’ve seen him capture his Olympic gold medal in 2004. Everything he does is calculated. Before Canelo, Ward was dominating the 168 and 175 divisions.
Who wins: Getting Andre back in the ring is another question. This is a fantasy fight for me, but I would love to see it happen.And if Ward comes back and has a tune-up fight or some sort of an exhibition fight where he can get his feet wet and then fight Alvarez, I would pick Ward over Alvarez.
3. Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua at heavyweight
Overview: This fight has to happen, I mean it doesn’t matter if there are belts on the line. This is for British bragging rights, it’s the two best heavyweights in boxing and it could be the biggest fight in British boxing history.
The matchup is very interesting. Many people will pick Fury off the bat because he can just do more. He just backed up Deontay Wilder, he told everybody what he was going to do beforehand, and then delivered.
Then you have Joshua. He was an Olympic gold medalist, and I know amateur fights are different from pro fights, but between his pro career and the amateurs Joshua has beaten a lot of top quality guys, including Wladimir Klitschko.
Joshua’s a boxer-puncher, and he showed just how dangerous he can be when he knocked out Kubrat Pulev. But he can change his game, too. There were questions after he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. in their first fight, but I always say, it’s how you come back from a loss that makes a great champion. He showed that versatility and ability when he fought Ruiz the second time and he boxed around him for 12 rounds.
Joshua jabs well to set up his right hand, underneath or over the top, and that’s typically his kill shot right there. He has that kind of power he can turn your lights out with one punch.
Who wins: Great fight, but I would favor the man with the most skills, who can do a little bit of everything. I have to go with Fury, who is also the bigger guy. I think Fury can back down Joshua and beat him.
4. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia at lightweight
Overview: You have two young, exciting guys. One at the top of his game in Davis, and one that could be someone special, but still hasn’t proven it in Garcia. Garcia has the hype around him, the followers on social media. He has speed, and he has a size advantage over Davis. Garcia also has a tremendous left hook; he seems to be getting better training under the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez’s camp.
Garcia got caught with a punch that he didn’t see against Luke Campbell, but the way he responded afterwards, that takes a lot of heart and mental toughness to get back in the fight.
I think Davis and Garcia need each other. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Davis. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Garcia. I think they can bring out the best of each other if they fight, because both have something to fear. Fear can take you to do great things, do something that you didn’t know you had in you.
I don’t think we have ever seen “Tank” Davis hurt or even down before, so how will he react if he’s put on the canvas?
Who wins: I have to go with the guy with more experience at a higher level and that’s Davis. “Tank” will set him up, he will play defense and lure Garcia in and he will find a way to land that kill shot and hurt Garcia. Davis is one of the best finishers in boxing, and once he hurts you, it’s over.
5. Teofimo Lopez vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko 2 at lightweight
Overview: After what we saw with Lomachenko against Masayoshi Nakatani back in June, I think everybody wants to see this rematch with Lopez.
Nakatani was coming off the biggest win of his career, against Felix Verdejo, and Lomachenko knocked him out in spectacular fashion. Lomachenko made it look easy, because he started sooner and didn’t sit back. The biggest problem in the first fight with Lopez was that Lomachenko started to pick up the pace too late.
If he starts sooner against Lopez, can Lomachenko gas out Lopez and take him to deep waters? Lomachenko almost had Lopez in the 11th round of their first fight, before Lopez came out blazing for Round 12.
Lomachenko’s shoulder injury going into the fight was real, but I would take nothing away from Lopez, because he came into that fight with an injury to his foot as well. But when you look at this rematch, stylistically, you have a young fighter in Lopez who hasn’t fought since he beat Lomachenko. He had COVID, which postponed his fight against George Kambosos Jr. four days out from the scheduled date. We have to see if that has any long-term effects.
Who wins: I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Even with Lomachenko starting faster against Nakatani, it was against a fighter that was perfectly made for his style of fighting. That’s not going to happen against Lopez. Going back to their first fight, I saw Lopez spinning with Lomachenko. Every time Loma was trying to get an angle, Lopez would spin with him, which is not an easy thing to do.
I saw Lopez landing some good punches on Lomachenko. The openings are still there against Loma. And if Loma gets too aggressive, he can get caught with those shots. It comes down to how Lopez is feeling by the time this fight happens. Realistically, I could see either of these two fighters winning, in a number of different ways.
6. Oscar Valdez vs. Shakur Stevenson at junior lightweight
Overview: People are going to judge Stevenson based on his last fight against Jeremia Nakathila, which Stevenson won, but he didn’t look too good. Stevenson was masterful with his boxing, but the one thing I saw was that Shakur didn’t like the power of Nakathila. You could tell he didn’t want to get touched and he wanted no part in mixing it up with Nakathila.
Then you have a guy like Valdez, who has punching power in both hands, plus a tremendous amount of experience. He’s also undefeated, and just knocked out the boogeyman of the division in Miguel Berchelt. Trainer Eddy Reynoso has turned Valdez into a boxer/puncher, but he can still come forward, can maul you, be aggressive, and that’s why I love this matchup.
But Stevenson doesn’t get hit that much, and he could make things very difficult and frustrating for Valdez. Valdez doesn’t mind the contact at all, and when he can’t land punches he gets more aggressive round after round — and could that become his demise? It could, because Stevenson is a sharpshooter. He’s gonna pick his spots, he’s OK with making a fight boring, staying on the outside.
Who wins: Last time I went against Valdez, when he fought Berchelt, I got embarrassed. And this is a tough one. I see this as a 50-50 fight. When a guy like Valdez gets against the wall, that’s fuel for him, too. But I have to go with the sweet science, and that favors Stevenson. I hate to do it, but I think Stevenson is disciplined enough to do what he needs to do and get the win.
7. Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2 at bantamweight
Overview: It’s crazy how you see a guy like Donaire get better with time. It’s about his experience and the way he takes care of himself outside of the ring. He knew how good Inoue was when he fought him in 2019, but that fight also made Donaire believe in how good he still was. He took Inoue out to deep waters, broke his face, and did a lot of damage to Inoue, who was kind of untouchable at the time.
Inoue knows what he’s up against the second time around. The one thing I saw after watching the first fight and studying that film, was the adjustments Inoue made during the fight, which changed the outcome. After he got hit by the left hook a few times, Inoue was able to take it away from Donaire, and that minor adjustment made all of the difference.
Both guys have punching power and great balance. Inoue generates his power from the ground out, like a baseball player. And when I think of Donaire, I think of a wizard. He’s smart, confident and calm, and that’s threatening. Both these guys are lethal.
Who wins: I would have to go with Inoue. Rematches are based on minor adjustments, not big ones. I think Inoue knows what he has to do in the rematch to stay away from that Donaire left hook. I think he figured it out in the second part of their first fight.
8. Emanuel Navarrete vs. Oscar Valdez at junior lightweight
Overview: Any Navarrete fight is going to be incredible. Navarrete’s fight against Christopher Diaz was unreal, and it was a throwback. Navarrete has shown he carries his power in whatever weight class he fights in. He knows how to maximize his leverage with every shot, and even though it looks very unorthodox, Navarrete makes it work for him. He has his own off rhythm type of style that, honestly, no one can match.
But the thing about Navarrete is that he gets hit, and gets hit often. If you hit a rock in the same spot over and over, eventually it is going to crack open. And I think that with the defensive flaws Navarrete has, even though he can punch with both hands, it would be an explosive fight, because these two guys have power.
Valdez can punch, and he can hurt Navarrete. I think the first couple of rounds would be very interesting. I think Valdez starts early with his good jab, his good hand speed, moving and covering up. But I can also see him getting in trouble trying to pressure Navarrete. Navarrete knows how to fight when pressured — he has the ability to do that, like we saw against Diaz. He was losing the fight and then suddenly he changed the whole rhythm and pace and the fight changed. He landed huge uppercuts, the left hook coming around. I can see the same thing against Valdez.
Who wins: You can call me out on this, but I’m gonna have to favor Navarrete on this one. I honestly haven’t seen many guys that can throw with the kind of ferocity and awkwardness Navarrete has, and be so accurate. It’s hard to dance with someone that doesn’t know how to dance. That’s Navarrete, he’s that guy at 130. He’s hard to dance with, hard to reach. It’s hard to face a fighter that doesn’t do things the “right way”.
9. Teofimo Lopez vs. Josh Taylor at junior welterweight
Overview: Taylor is as legit a champion as they come. Anybody that can deal with the relentlessness, power, pressure of a guy like Jose Ramirez and actually hurt him has my respect. And then you have a guy like Lopez, who is fast, twitchy, speedy, and likes to have his way on the outside. He likes to control range with big shots, time guys well when they move him in, and he mixes things a bit.
Lopez doesn’t fight a whole lot on the inside, while Taylor can do a little bit of everything. He’s bigger, taller, longer, can box on the outside, can press on the inside, can punch in spots. Taylor has a very good chin, and he showed that against Ramirez.
Who wins: In the past I would’ve picked Lopez, but right now I have to go with Taylor. He has shown me that he not only has the ability to adapt inside the ring, he showed me he’s also mentally strong. Against Ramirez he picked his spots wisely and fought on the outside. He was able to set up his left hand, that pull-counter off his feint, and caught Ramirez as he came in. That’s just brilliant stuff.
10. Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez at super middleweight
Overview: We have to see this fight. More than 70,000 people saw Canelo beat Billy Joe Saunders at AT&T Stadium in Texas. If you want to sell out that stadium, this is the fight to do it. You want to put a warrior like David Benavidez against Alvarez. Benavidez’s a pressure fighter who likes to stay in front of his opponents, he has very quick hands, he throws very quick combinations, and can take punches well.
Against Benavidez, Canelo will have to bite down a little bit. I don’t think Benavidez is going to be afraid of Canelo, and he’s gonna let his hands go. Benavidez believes he has what it takes to beat Alvarez — and that matters.
I just think this matchup is explosive. You have the pressure and the hand speed of Benavidez, with his size and his length, against the savvy, quick on the feet, quick on the trigger, boxer-puncher, defensive type master in Alvarez.
Benavidez is still young, at 24, but he can hurt Alvarez. This is the fight I want to see right now. I just want to see if Canelo can deal with that pressure and size. Benavidez has very good hand speed and likes to throw punches when he has his opponent against the ropes, and we know that Canelo likes to hang against the ropes in a defensive position, which could be a perfect opportunity for Benavidez to let his hands go.
Who wins: I have Canelo winning. He’s a different kind of fighter, and he’s delivering spectacular KOs. It’s not just about winning, it’s how you win that’s important when it comes to being a star. Canelo is dominating the competition and that’s why he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
‘I truly believe he’s going to shock the world:’ Inside Patrick Kane’s rehab and why he picked the Red Wings
For nearly six months, the greatest active American-born hockey player, the one fans call Showtime, lived in obscurity. As Patrick Kane recovered from hip resurfacing surgery — a bold move to breathe new life into his career at age 35 — he relocated his family to Toronto.
For three hours a day, Monday through Friday, Kane worked with chiropractor Ian McIntyre, who oversaw the rehab. Then he got on the ice. Kane’s skating coach, Randi Milani, made sure his locker rooms at the local rinks were farthest away from the lobby. She insisted that LiveBarn, the ubiquitous arena streaming service, was turned off, and often reserved ice time under fake names. Sessions included Kane battling in drills with retired defenseman Cody Golobeuf and shooting on free agent goalie Chris Gibson. Spectators who somehow caught wind were kindly told to get lost.
When it was finally time for Kane to meet with NHL suitors, a series of Zoom calls with teams interested in signing the free agent, one head coach remarked: “Wait, you were in Toronto, the center of the hockey universe, this whole time?”
It marked a new era for Kane. The winger has won nearly everything there is to win — three Stanley Cups, league MVP, playoff MVP, a scoring title — while captivating the biggest crowds with inimitable dangles. But, Kane said, he had “a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth after last year.”
After being traded away from the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks, his home for 16 seasons, Kane’s short stint with the New York Rangers underwhelmed by his standards. Kane had six goals and 19 points in 26 games as the Rangers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Devils. “Going to New York was a new challenge for me,” Kane said. “I was really excited about it but it didn’t really go the way I expected or the team expected. I figured at that point it was probably time to do something to give myself a chance to get back to a high level — almost more mentally rather than physically. I don’t want to say [I was] miserable, but I was thinking about [my hip] every day.”
Kane was willing to tear it all down — opting for a procedure with little proof of concept in the NHL, powering through 116 treatment sessions to relearn movement patterns. Risky would be an understatement.
“It was no man’s land in terms of what to expect,” McIntyre said.
But Kane’s confidence barely wavered. He still considers himself one of the top players in the league, when healthy. Kane believed, firmly, he had more to give. So he attacked rehab with his signature meticulousness and intensity.
If Kane finds the success he’s expecting, his legend will only grow — and he could set a new path forward for other players.
“No one’s really come back from this type of surgery, but no one has done what he’s done to recover this way,” Milani said. “Right now, he’s moving better now than he was a few years ago. It’s crazy. I truly believe he’s going to shock the world. It’s going to be unreal.”
KANE’S HIP BEGAN bothering him in the 2020 NHL bubble — and only got worse. Kane’s crossover left over right was “pretty much nonexistent,” he said. By last season, those close to Kane described him as essentially playing on one leg.
“Anytime I would take a hit on the right side of the hip, the joint would kind of compress and it would basically feel like bone on bone,” Kane said. “So your leg like shuts down for like 30 or 45 seconds. It’s just painful, right? You’re almost playing the game not to get hit, which you can’t do in this league.”
Kane was reluctant to have surgery. He loved the game too much, he couldn’t imagine taking time away. Once the Rangers were eliminated, Kane’s agents at CAA took him to see Dr. Edwin Su at New York’s Hospital of Special Surgery.
“When I saw his hip, it was completely, completely worn out,” Su said. “It’s incredible he was still able to play, and play at a pretty high level.”
Hip resurfacing surgery involves placing a metal ball on top of the head of the femur (thighbone), capping it like a tooth, then fitting the socket with a thin metal shell. It was first performed in the United States in 2006, when the implant was FDA approved, meaning there’s still not much long-term data on several aspects. Su said hip resurfacing has fallen out of favor among many surgeons who are concerned about the impact of metal-on-metal, and it represents less than 1% of artificial hips in the United States. The ideal candidate is a healthy, young (under 50) male. Only two NHL players have returned to the ice after having their hip resurfaced: Ed Jovanovski, who retired after 37 games, and Nicklas Backstrom, who stepped away after playing eight games this season,17 months after his procedure.
Kane peppered Su with questions, but at the core he wanted to know: will this make me better?
“If you’re still playing with such a bad hip,” Su told Kane. “Then there’s no doubt it should make you better.”
Su was particularly confident about Kane’s prognosis. Other athletes underwent hip resurfacing as a last resort, having done several procedures beforehand. That meant bone cartilage was shaved down, leading to muscle atrophy. “Part of [Kane’s] incredible recovery is that he did this right off the bat instead of having other surgeries and letting the condition deteriorate further,” Su said. “He also may have more success than others because he’s incredibly fit. He’s not really heavy. He’s just an agile person.”
Su downplayed potential risks of hip resurfacing, even in a high-impact sport like hockey.
“The only thing holding this artificial hip in place is the joint capsule, the tissue and the muscle force. So it would have to be really unusual, but you could imagine some sort of collision where the leg is basically torqued in a way that pulls it out of the socket,” Su said. “That would definitely be worrisome, but hockey I don’t think is a high risk. I’m more worried about football, because of the pile-ons.”
Since Kane’s operation, Su has performed a double hip resurfacing on free agent Jesse Puljujarvi, who is 25, and said there is another active NHL player who is considering. “The biggest risk was the unknown factor,” Kane said. “But from what it sounds like, more guys will end up having the surgery. Hopefully I’ll be a pioneer and play for a long time.”
Kane underwent the surgery in June. Almost immediately, his pain disappeared. Within two weeks, he was on a skating treadmill. A week later, he was jumping off a box. “So I think when he got to us, he thought ‘wow this is going to go fast,'” McIntyre said. “But then I showed him some very easy things that he couldn’t do, that was humbling for him. Then, the light switch went off. He wanted to be the best at it.”
Why Patrick Kane joining the Red Wings is ‘massive’
Kevin Weekes explains why Patrick Kane signing with the Red Wings is such an impactful move.
AS HE PLAYED through his injury, those close to Kane said he was bothered when people commented on his limp.
“Even after the surgery that was something that surprised him, that he was still limping,” McIntyre said. “But some of that movement isn’t in your hip, it’s in your brain. If you’ve been limping for 2½ years, you can fix the joints but your brain still acts like it’s hurt.”
McIntyre said the arthritis in Kane’s hip severely impacted his range of motion — something he needed to relearn after the operation.
“If I asked him to rotate on his hip on a small elastic band, when he came back to the beginning, it would snap back,” McIntyre said. “He had no strength to hold himself in that position. Being such a good athlete, he just found a way to work around it. Which is remarkable, because he couldn’t move.”
McIntyre and strength coach Jason Martin progressively added exercises for Kane. Many were mundane and tedious. Kane had only one speed: diligence. If Kane did nine reps perfectly and messed up on the 10th, he would start doing the 11th, 12th and 13th unprompted.
“I was surprised by how hard he was on himself, despite all that he accomplished in his career, and having arguably the best hands in the world,” said Golobeuf, who joined the on-ice sessions once Kane was ready to absorb contact. “The look in his eyes if he mishandled one time, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ And then the focus he’d have on the next rep would be incredible. I think it’s important for young guys to know a guy that good also works that hard.”
But Kane also has traits that are unteachable: how he processes the game, how he dials in when the puck is on his stick.
Sometimes Golobeuf would say something on the ice, met with no reaction from Kane. Golobeuf would wonder: Did I say it loud enough? Could he hear me?
“He was so in the zone,” Golobeuf said. “I feel like he doesn’t hear anything outside of his own head.”
A COUPLE OF TEAMS were willing to sign Kane on July 1, when he became a free agent. Kane preferred to wait, finishing out his rehab to see how he felt. He also wanted to see how the season shook out.
Kane met with five teams on Zoom. He met with another general manager, Florida’s Bill Zito, in Toronto. The options were intriguing. Zito pitched for Kane to play alongside Aleksander Barkov, one of the few players in the league who processes the game at a similar level. Kane could live out his childhood dream of playing for the Buffalo Sabres. He could team up with fellow American Auston Matthews and help the Maple Leafs (and Canada) break through their Stanley Cup drought. The defending champion Vegas Golden Knights rolled out an entire deck. On his call with the Boston Bruins, Kane nerded out over X’s and O’s with coach Jim Montgomery. Following nearly every call, Kane was personally recruited by the team’s star players.
“I could say so many good things about different teams I talked to and their interest in me was incredible,” Kane said. “I mean, some teams you don’t really expect to have interest in you, and they do, and it’s a good feeling.”
Kane watches as much hockey as anyone in the NHL. His nightly routine is putting his three-year-old son, Patrick Kane III, down to bed – “then watch hockey the rest of the night,” he said. He asked pointed questions about teams’ medical staffs, their personnel and systems — even their neutral and defensive zones.
Kane also showed a level of humility, repeatedly saying: ‘I know I need to earn my spot’ and that he didn’t expect to play on a team’s top line or top power-play unit.
But as Kane went through the process, in the back of his mind, he always came back to Detroit. At age 14 Kane moved away from home to play for the Michigan-based Honeybaked AAA program, where he billeted with Red Wings legend Pat Verbeek. Kane fell in love with Detroit, which was just as obsessed with hockey as he was. He adored the Red Wings’ history and tradition.
But the Red Wings, who have been in a timeframe-less rebuild, still had to win Kane over.
“Our approach, me and [GM] Steve [Yzerman], was to be simple, direct and honest,” coach Derek Lalonde said, knowing that whatever he said, Kane would fact check with one of his good friends, Alex DeBrincat. Lalonde had a vision for Kane — including pairing him with DeBrincat early, finding ways to create wide ice, where he thrives, and maximizing Kane’s ability to play off his off hand.
The Red Wings are looking to break a seven-year playoff drought. For the last several years, they’ve subtracted ahead of the trade deadline, which dejected the group – especially last season. “Steve [Yzerman] has a plan, he’s extremely patient,” Lalonde said. “But Kane choosing us, it’s a credit to what the guys built and what they’re doing. This is the first shot in the arm.”
Lalonde had heard stories about what type of competitor and teammate Kane is. A few of Lalonde’s friends, including Tampa Bay assistant Jeff Blashill, were on the staff of the USA 2018 World Championship team.
“It was one of the first years Chicago missed the playoffs, so he went to the World Championships,” Lalonde said. “They won the bronze medal, they had an end of the tournament party. He’s the only guy who wore his medal during the whole thing. Those are the things that were in my head before meeting him. And then once I did [meet him], I was maybe even more impressed. It’s like talking to the CEO of a company. He’s inquisitive about all of the right things.”
Kane agreed to terms with the Red Wings on Nov. 28. The team had already departed for New York for a game against the Rangers as Kane reported to the facility for his physical. Once he cleared, Kane had a request: he wanted to fly to New York as soon as possible, to join his new teammates.
Kane has been patient with his debut. When he finally gets back in a game, a culmination of the quiet hard work he’s been putting in since June, he wants to be Showtime again.
“I’m very optimistic,” Kane said. “Hopefully I’ll be even better than I was in the past.”
Additional reporting by ESPN’s Stephania Bell.
Sources: Texas A&M to hire K-State’s Klein as OC
Klein, a former quarterback for Kansas State who finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2012, had emerged as one of the nation’s top young playcallers. Klein, 34, has spent almost his entire career at his alma mater, serving as quarterbacks coach and becoming the team’s sole playcaller before the 2022 season under coach Chris Klieman.
Notre Dame pursued Klein for its offensive coordinator vacancy after the 2022 season, and Klein has drawn some interest for head-coaching opportunities.
Since the start of the 2022 season, Kansas State ranks 20th nationally in scoring (34.9 PPG). In 2022, when Kansas State won the Big 12, the offense finished in the top 10 in school history in 11 categories, including second in offensive yards (5,863), fourth in rushing yards (2,916) and fifth in yards per game (418.8).
Offensive line coach Connor Riley is expected to be a candidate to replace Klein, a source said. The 25th-ranked Wildcats will face No. 18 NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando, Florida.
GoPowerCat.com first reported Klein accepting the Texas A&M job early Wednesday.
College football transfer portal updates: Latest news on who’s in and out
College football‘s 30-day winter transfer portal window is open, as players have until Jan. 2, 2024, to enter the portal for their one-time transfers. It doesn’t mean they have to find their new schools by then — or that they can’t return to their previous schools — but they have 30 days to decide whether they want to be in the portal.
More than 1,000 players officially entered the transfer portal on Monday. A few of the quarterbacks who already are in the portal include Ohio State’s Kyle McCord, Washington State’s Cam Ward, Duke’s Riley Leonard, Oregon State’s DJ Uiagalelei and UCLA’s Dante Moore.
Who’s next to enter the portal? We’re tracking notable players entering (and exiting) the portal, with the latest news and updates on how the 2024 season could be transformed:
Latest transfer portal entries
Portal entrants from before the window officially opened
Christian-Lichtenhan is a 6-foot-10, 315-pound junior, originally from Davis, California. He redshirted in his freshman season at Colorado in 2020, but played in five games along the offensive line during the 2021 season. He started in eight games in 2022, and was the starting left tackle this season for coach Deion Sanders. He is departing from an offensive line that struggled mightily in pass protection during 2023.
Ward transferred into the WSU program from Incarnate Word prior to the 2022 season, where he was a second team FCS All-American player and the Southland Conference offensive player of the year. He went 10-3 in 2021 with Incarnate Word and threw for 4,648 yards, 47 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He continued that success in 2022 at Washington State and was an All-Pac-12 Conference honorable mention player. He started all 13 games and threw for 3,231 yards and 23 touchdowns.
After starting his career at Notre Dame, Pyne transferred to Arizona State last season. But because of injuries, he was sidelined for the most of 2023, only appearing in two games in September. In those two appearances, he threw two touchdowns and three interceptions. Pyne expects to have three seasons of eligibility left once he graduates with his degree.
The South Alabama wide receiver had over 1,300 receiving yards for the Jaguars this season to pair with seven touchdowns. He’s in the portal as a graduate transfer.
Moore was the No. 2 prospect overall in the 2023 class out of Detroit, Michigan. He originally committed to Oregon out of high school, but flipped to UCLA and signed with the Bruins. Moore appeared in nine games this season as a true freshman and threw for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Prior to his commitment, he showed interest in Michigan State, Texas A&M, LSU, Miami and Michigan among others.
The former Clemson QB, who was one of the big names in the portal last season is planning to leave the Beavers. In his lone season in Corvalis, DJU was improved in almost every category compared this previous two seasons starting at Clemson. In 2023, Uiagalelei threw for 2,638 yards and accounted for 27 total touchdowns.
Morris, a sophomore, began the season as NC State’s backup with plans to be a backup and redshirt. He ended up starting four games before opting to sit out the rest of the season to preserve his redshirt. Morris played last season as a true freshman after Devin Leary went out for the season with an injury. Morris has thrown for 1,367 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, completing 57.8 percent of his passes during his career at NC State.
Clark was a starter on the defensive line for the Wolfpack. He had 22 tackles in 2023.
Collins, a junior, will be immediately eligible for his final year. He has caught 91 passes for 1,290 yards and 11 touchdowns over three seasons.
Leonard, a junior, started all 13 games for the Blue Devils during the 2022 season and threw for 2,967 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had 699 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns and was an All-ACC honorable mention selection for his performance. He played in seven games this season, missing games because of a toe injury suffered against Louisville, and finished the season with 1,102 yards passing, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He added on four rushing touchdowns and 352 yards on the ground.
Coastal Carolina starting quarterback Grayson McCall entered his name in the transfer portal as a grad transfer on Wednesday. McCall dealt with an injury this season that allowed him to play in just seven games where he threw for 1,919 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions under new coach Tim Beck. McCall threw for 2,700 yards, 24 touchdowns and two interceptions in 11 games during the 2022 season. He has 10,005 career passing yards and 88 career touchdowns.
Peebles, a graduate transfer, played 411 snaps this season, racking up four sacks, 40 total tackles and a forced fumble. He had 3.5 sacks over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Bedford, who started 10 games this season and played both right guard and right tackle, is the 17th Hoosiers player to enter the portal since Nov. 27, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren. That includes four of their starting offensive linemen. Bedford allowed just one sack in 2023.
The Owls’ sophomore quarterback is moving on after starting two years for Temple. He was AAC rookie of the year in 2022. In his career, he has thrown for 6,104 yards with 41 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
Cincinnati defender Deshawn Pace announced that he will enter the transfer portal. He plays the STAR position for the Bearcats, a safety and linebacker combination, and led the team in total tackles in 2023 with 80 tackles. Pace also led the team in tackles for loss with 11 and had five pass breakups on the season.
Rudolph, who had 46 catches for 499 yards and two touchdowns this season, intends to enter the transfer portal, a source told ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Rudolph caught 51 passes for 892 yards and seven scores in 2021.
Kaliakmanis had 1,838 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing 53.1% of his attempts for Minnesota, which finished 5-7. He added two rushing touchdowns. He took over as Minnesota’s top quarterback after starting five games as a freshman in 2022, going 3-2 with 946 passing yards and three touchdowns. He has two seasons of eligibility left.
After replacing Sam Hartman, who transferred to Notre Dame last year, Griffis struggled this season. He went 124-for-207 for 1,553 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions as Wake Forest finished 4-8. Wake Forest backup QB Santino Marucci also announced he would be transferring.
A sophomore from Minnesota, Burks has decided to leave Purdue. With 47 catches for 629 yards and seven scores, Burks was the Boilermakers’ leading receiver in 2023. Burks was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2021.
THANK YOU PURDUE
FOREVER A BOILERMAKER 🖤 pic.twitter.com/6JErgcHWop
— 𝐃𝐞𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐁𝐮𝐫𝐤𝐬 (@deionkburks) November 28, 2023
After an up-and-down career with the Hurricanes, Van Dyke entered the transfer portal, saying, “I am looking forward to the next chapter and what my future holds.” A fourth-year junior, had been the starter since the 2021 season. He threw for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games in 2021. His performance that season earned him ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Injuries and inconsistency hampered his next two seasons as Van Dyke threw 17 interceptions over the last two seasons and has played for three different offensive coordinators.
Chaney, a sophomore, had 478 yards rushing this season and two touchdowns. He was, at certain times, the Canes’ feature back, and he had double-digit carries in three games and 106 yards against Georgia Tech and 85 yards against Florida State.
Correll, who started 10 games for the Irish this season, enters the portal as a graduate transfer and will have one year of eligibility remaining. Correll was a veteran presence on the Notre Dame line but missed the final two games of the season with a concussion. He was a four-star prospect, ranked No. 148 in the 2019 ESPN 300.
Osafo-Mensah started one game this season before finding a reserve role on the Irish defense. In five seasons in South Bend, he had 47 tackles and five sacks.
A sophomore receiver, McAlister had a big season for the Broncos in 2023. He had 47 catches for 873 yards and five scores. He averaged 18.6 yards-per-catch in 2023.
Brown, a sophomore who saw limited action in 2023, has decided to leave USC. He had only three catches on the year. He was a highly ranked recruit in USC’s 2022 recruiting class. Ranked No. 64 overall, Brown was the highest-ranked offensive recruit in the class.
Part of an exodus of Hoosiers players after the firing of coach Tom Allen, Indiana has four of five starting offensive linemen entering the portal. Benson and Carpenter will be graduate transfers, while Smith and Bedford have multiple years of eligibility left.
Howard, who led Kansas State to a Big 12 title in 2022, has decided to move on as a graduate transfer. Howard led Kansas State with 2,643 passing yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions, completing 61.3% of his passes. After sharing time with Adrian Martinez to begin the 2022 season, he emerged as the Wildcats’ top quarterback for their run to a conference title. Howard, who will have one year of eligibility left, has 5,786 career passing yards with 48 touchdowns — a team record — and 25 interceptions, as well as 934 career rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Ward will move on as a graduate transfer after four seasons at Florida State before playing for the Wildcats in 2023. He has had more than 500 yards rushing in a season the past three seasons and 17 career touchdowns.
After starting 23 games over three seasons in Waco, Shapen has decided to transfer. As a true junior this season, he will have at least one season of eligibility remaining. He had 2,188 yards passing with 13 touchdowns in 2023. Shapen is a former four-star recruit from the Class of 2020.
Will Rogers, who has thrown for 94 career touchdowns, is leaving Starkville after the Mississippi State coaching change. Rogers played in every game in the 2021 and 2022 seasons before injuries limited his 2023 season. In eight games this season, Rogers threw for 1,626 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. In four seasons with the Bulldogs, Rogers threw for 12,315 yards, completing 69.4% of his passes.
— Will Rogers (@Wrogers__2) November 24, 2023
Houser, a redshirt freshman, who played in seven games this season, plans to transfer and has three years of eligibility remaining. He played in 11 games this season and finished with 1,132 passing yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions.
A day after the Hoosiers fired coach Tom Allen, their starting QB is moving on as well. Sorsby, who started parts of the 2023 season, played in 10 total games and finished with 1,587 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had 286 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. He was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2022.
With Cam Rising returning for a seventh year and Bryson Barnes, who started for for most of the 2023 season also back, Utah freshman signal-caller Johnson has decided to move on. Johnson started three games this season, going 2-1, and accounting for 734 total yards and 12 touchdowns. From Clovis, California, he was a four-star recruit and ranked 93rd overall in the 2022 ESPN 300.
Johnson, who started 12 games at LSU in 2021, then eight over two seasons at Texas A&M, is entering the portal as a graduate transfer. He was the Aggies’ starter in 2022 for three of their first four games before being injured and redshirting. Johnson then battled Conner Weigman for the starting job this season. After Weigman was injured in late September, Johnson was again the starter for the next five games before injuring his ribs. In total, Johnson has thrown for 5,853 yards and 47 touchdowns over four collegiate seasons. Johnson was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2020, ranked No. 129 overall in the ESPN 300.
Cottrell entered the portal after the firing of Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher. Cottrell, a freshman from Milton, Florida, had just one catch for 13 yards (it went for a touchdown) this season. A four-star recruit in the Class of 2023, Cottrell was the 23rd overall receiver in the class.
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