The college football landscape has gone through slow evolutions over time, but in the last few years it has shifted dramatically. We are now in the era of the transfer portal and NIL and things are vastly different than they were just a few short seasons ago. With one time no-penalty transfers now an option and players able to legally accept payment for use of their name, image and likeness, the transfer portal has become a virtual online retailer of college athletes. Coaching staffs with needs can sift through the players who have entered the portal and pick and choose what they need. Of course, each player comes with a price tag and those prices can’t be paid by the schools, but deals can and will be done over the coming weeks in droves.
The portal officially opens on Monday, December 5th, but with the regular season ending last weekend, we’ve already begun to see a slew of announcements hit social media. There are several types of announcements which can be made, each with a separate set of implications. For schools with a coaching change, players are allowed to enter the portal immediately. Ditto for graduate transfers. For players who don’t fit into either of those categories, they can announce an intention to transfer once the portal opens.
Schools are not permitted to directly contact any athlete at another school until they have officially entered the portal, but as we saw with Charlie Jones a year ago, the vast majority of the communication comes via backchannels. Once an intention to transfer is put into the universe (and sometimes even before!), coaching staffs begin reaching out to contacts such as high school coaches, family members or other intermediaries to express interest and start building a relationship. Often times, the official entry into the portal is the end of the recruiting process rather than the beginning.
Either way, the announcements are flowing across the country. That holds true in Iowa City where the Hawkeyes just finished a disappointing 2022 season with a frustrating home loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. As with our potential transfer portal targets, we will continue to monitor and track all portal entries departing Iowa City and update the below accordingly.
Alex Padilla, QB
Quarterback Alex Padilla has been at the center of Hawkeye fans’ attention for more than two years as the backup to a struggling Spencer Petras. In 2020, Padilla took over when Petras went down with injury and despite a sub-par statistical performance, he led the Hawkeyes to three straight wins in the month of November before being pulled against Nebraska in the season finale.
He went 3-0 as a starter at Iowa, finishing his Hawkeye career with 821 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs and a 49% completion percentage. Padilla announced on Tuesday that he has entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer (meaning he is already in the portal and not required to wait until December 5th). He has two years of eligibility remaining including his COVID year.
Josh Volk, OL
Offensive guard Josh Volk came to the Hawkeyes with high hopes, A member of the 2020 recruiting class, Volk was a high 3-star prospect from just up the road at Cedar Rapids Xavier. He had the frame and much of the bulk to potentially be an early impact on the offensive line.
But during his three years in Iowa City, Volk never cracked the two-deeps. He stepped away from the program briefly during fall practice in 2022, but returned for this past season. However, he was behind the likes of Connor Colby, Tyler Elsbury, Nick DeJong and Gennings Dunker on the depth chart. All four of those players have eligibility remaining and only DeJong is set to graduate before Volk.
With limited action available to him, Volk announced on Monday afternoon that he was entering the portal with two years of eligibility remaining after taking his redshirt in 2020.
Thank you to the Univ of Iowa.— Josh Volk (@Josh__Volk) November 29, 2022
I will be entering the portal with two yrs of eligibility remaining.
Keagan Johnson, WR
Perhaps one of the most speculated about players all season was wide receiver Keagan Johnson. A 4-star Nebraska legacy in the recruiting class of 2021, Johnson came into his own during his freshman season in 2021 when he hauled in 18 catches for 352 yards and two TDs.
But Johnson was ruled out for Iowa’s Citrus Bowl loss to Kentucky on short notice a season ago and then missed all of spring practice. Despite expectations he would be back by the fall, Johnson missed most of fall camp and then Iowa’s first two games of the year. He recorded a pair of catches for 11 yards in Iowa’s win over Nevada, but has not been seen since.
His absence led to loads of speculation he might be looking to hold onto a redshirt to extend his eligibility if he were to transfer. On Thursday, he put the speculation to rest and announced his intention to enter the portal when it opens on December 5th.
Johnson will have three years of eligibility at his new home. Nebraska seems the obvious potential landing spot given he is from Omaha and his father won a national championship with the Huskers.
**UPDATE: Despite rumors swirling that Johnson had changed his mind about leaving the program, the receiver officially entered the portal when it opened on Monday. He could still return a la Daviyon Nixon a few years ago, but his scholarship is no longer locked in.
Arland Bruce IV, WR
Wide receiver Arland Bruce IV was recruited to be the next Tyrone Tracy, before Tracy gradually declined in production for the Hawkeyes. Now, Bruce is headed down a similar path as Tracy, announcing on Friday morning his intentions to transfer from the program after two years with the Hawkeyes.
Originally from Olathe, Kansas, Bruce played his final season of high school football in Ankeny with fellow wide receiver commit Brody Brecht. Bruce made a more immediate impact on the team, contributing as a true freshman a season ago and leading some to believe the loss of Charlie Jones last spring might not be a major loss.
In 2022, Bruce finished the year fourth on the team in yards and receptions with 187 yards and one receiving TD on 19 catches. He also added 47 rushing yards and one rushing TD on the year. Most notably, Bruce was Iowa’s only scholarship WR healthy through the first two weeks of the season.
The loss of both Bruce and Johnson means Iowa will be playing their bowl game with limited options to throw to, though that has been the case most of the season.
Gavin Williams, RB
A former high 3-star athlete in the class of 2020 out of Des Moines, Gavin Williams came to the Hawkeyes with loads of promise. He delivered on that promise in 2021 when he ran for 305 yards on 65 carries, mostly down the home stretch of the season and in Iowa’s bowl loss without prior starter Tyler Goodson.
That promise built heading into the 2022 season when Hawkeye fans expected both Gavin and Leshon Williams to improve on the running game of 2021 by being more downhill with less backfield dancing. But true freshman Kaleb Johnson quickly stole the show, leading the team in carries and yardage and is now poised to dominate touches entering 2023.
With a younger player taking over the lead role and more youth and depth poised to enter the fold this offseason, it comes as little surprise that Williams announced his intention to transfer on Friday afternoon.
Reggie Bracy, S
Over the last several seasons, Phil Parker’s immense success both in creating a top notch defense and getting players to the NFL has helped earn him some cache on the recruiting trail. That’s led to a noticeable uptick in star ratings and rankings over the last handful of recruiting cycles.
With that good comes the inevitable flip side. Only so many players will see the field and building strong depth means someone is bound to be left behind. Redshirt sophomore Reggie Bracy appears to have been one of those players in 2022.
After committing to the Hawkeyes as a 3-star prospect in 2020, Bracy took a redshirt year before becoming a special teams player in 2021 and 2022. However, with the addition of 5-star safety Xavier Nwankpa in the class of 2022 meant Bracy was poised to be in a dog fight for the starting spot in 2023 at strong safety.
On Monday, it seems Bracy opted to look elsewhere, likely leaving the Hawkeyes with Quinn Schulte and Xavier Nwankpa as starters at safety in 2023.
Iowa safety Reggie Bracy, a core special teamer and backup safety, has entered the transfer portal.— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) December 5, 2022
Bracy will have two years of eligibility remaining, plus a covid year at his new home.
As noted above, this post will continue to be updated as new players make announcements or transfers find new homes. Updates will be outlined below.
*Updated 11:30 am CT on 12/1 for the Keagan Johnson departure.
*Updated 7:45 am CT on 12/2 for the Arland Bruce departure.
*Updated 3:15 pm CT on 12/2 for the Gavin Williams departure.
*Updated 8:20 am CT on 12/5 for Keagan Johnson’s official entry into the portal.
*Updated 1:40 pm CT on 12/5 of Reggie Bracy’s departure.