Three LSU players among ESPN’s top transfers in college football this season

The roster rebuild LSU undertook this offseason under first-year coach Brian Kelly simply wouldn’t have been possible prior to the transfer portal era.

Heading into last year’s Texas Bowl, LSU had just 39 available scholarship players. After a mass exodus of talent to the transfer portal and the draft, things looked like they could be dire in Baton Rouge in 2022.

But Kelly quickly flipped the script, bringing in a talented haul of transfers. Many of those players are currently starting for the 6-2 Tigers, and three of them were named among the top 50 transfers in college football this season by ESPN. Former players Trey Palmer and Dwight McGlothern, who transferred to Nebraska and Arkansas, respectively, are also listed.

Here’s where each LSU player stacks up.

No. 16 - Mekhi Garner

AP Photo/Matthew Hinton

The Tigers needed help in the secondary, and Garner has been a consistent defender so far this season. He ranks No. 8 among all FBS defenders in opponent completion percentage when he is targeted, allowing only 28.6% of passes to be completed.

Garner was one of the top portal options after he chose to leave Louisiana following Billy Napier’s departure, but even with that in mind, he’s exceeded expectations, becoming one of the SEC’s best defensive backs this fall.

No. 20 - Jayden Daniels

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Daniels got off to a slow start at LSU but lately has been very good for the Tigers, who have won six of their past seven games. He has 1,812 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 1 interception, and he leads the team in rush yards (524) and rushing touchdowns (nine) as well. Daniels helped his team come from behind to beat Ole Miss 45-20 with two passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns on the day.

No one knew quite what to expect from Daniels when he made the jump to the SEC after a rough season in 2021. But he’s flashing the potential we saw at Arizona State in his first two seasons as he is developing into a very solid quarterback this season. He makes plays with his legs, and he’s seeing the field better in the passing game. He has 11 touchdowns in the last two games, and he continues to prove that the coaches made the right call in naming him the starter.

No. 25 - Greg Brooks Jr.

AP Photo/Matthew Hinton

Brooks has been all over the field for the Tigers’ defense and is fifth on the team in total tackles with 35. He also has 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception and 3 pass breakups so far this season.

Brooks was a multi-year starter at Arkansas before transferring within the division. Though he began playing in the nickel, he moved to safety midway through the season, a change which seems to be benefitting LSU’s defense. Brooks has had a strong year and had a crucial interception in the win over Auburn.

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire