The college football world was taken aback when news broke on Thursday that Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins had entered the transfer portal. Judkins, who has been a standout player in the SEC for the past two seasons, is highly sought after and many believe he could contribute to a potential College Football Playoff run for the Rebels next year. The reasons behind Judkins' decision to transfer are still unknown, but there are several possibilities that could explain his move.
One theory is that Judkins wants to make the most of his final season of college football before potentially entering the NFL draft. By transferring to another school, he may have a better chance of showcasing his skills and boosting his draft stock. Another possibility is that Ole Miss may not have the available funds to retain Judkins after their recent acquisitions in the transfer portal. It's also a possibility that Judkins simply wants a change of scenery or a different role within a team. Whatever the reason, it's clear that Judkins will be playing for a different school next season.
Speculating on which school Judkins will choose is not an easy task. While he is a highly talented player, it's uncertain which teams will express interest in acquiring him. To determine potential destinations, we first need to analyze Judkins as a player and then identify teams that could benefit from his services.
Judkins has been a standout performer in the SEC, leading the conference in rushing yards and touchdowns in both 2022 and 2023. However, there was a significant drop in his performance this past season, with a decrease in rushing yards and a decline in efficiency. Despite carrying the ball over 270 times in 2023, Judkins had a lower yards-per-carry average compared to the previous year. This decline in efficiency can't be solely attributed to the performance of the offensive line, as his teammates had better statistics in both yards before and after contact.
It's possible that Judkins' role as the workhorse running back affected his efficiency, as defenses would focus more on stopping him compared to other backs on his team. Additionally, it's important to consider that Ole Miss primarily utilized inside zone runs, which seemed to be Judkins' strongest area. However, he has proven to be adaptable to various schemes, which expands the range of potential landing spots for him.
When considering which teams Judkins may choose, several factors come into play. It's unlikely that he would leave a playoff-contending team for one that is not in contention. This suggests that schools within the SEC or the Big Ten are more likely destinations for him. Furthermore, Judkins is from Alabama and may prefer to stay closer to home. The type of role he is looking for will also influence his decision, as he may want to continue as a workhorse back or be open to sharing the workload with another player.
One potential destination for Judkins is Alabama, where he could return to his home state and potentially be paired with Jalen Milroe in the backfield. The Crimson Tide are perennial playoff contenders and have a deep running back depth chart, which could lighten Judkins' load. Notre Dame is another option to consider, as they recruited Judkins out of high school and have an offensive coordinator who previously pursued him.
Auburn, another in-state school, is also worth keeping an eye on, although it's unclear how their future plans for Jarquez Hunter will impact their interest in Judkins. The Seminoles of Florida State could be an intriguing choice, as they are known for their activity in the transfer portal and have a vacancy at the running back position. Michigan is another possibility, as they have utilized the portal to fill roster gaps and may be interested in an experienced running back like Judkins. Tennessee, with Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small leaving for the NFL Draft, may also be interested in adding an experienced option with a skill set that aligns with their offensive strategies.
Other potential landing spots for Judkins include Miami, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas A&M. These schools could benefit from adding a player of Judkins' caliber, but the level of interest or fit remains uncertain.
Wherever Judkins decides to play next season, there's no doubt that his talent and experience will be an asset to any team. As fans and spectators, we eagerly await the announcement of Judkins' future plans and look forward to seeing him continue his football journey.
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