College football’s top defensive transfers for the 2023 season

With the 2023 college football season quickly approaching, there are a lot of familiar faces in new places.

Earlier this offseason, we recapped all of the player movement at the quarterback position and noted the best players at the other offensive positions to switch teams.

Now it’s time to focus on some of the best defensive players to transfer ahead of the 2023 season. The list below is in alphabetical order and players’ former schools are listed in parenthesis.

Alexander had two sacks as a true freshman in 2022 as part of Georgia’s incredibly deep defensive line rotation. He should see a lot more playing time at USC in his first season and is in line to post bigger counting stats as a result. He was a five-star recruit in the class of 2022 and the No. 9 overall prospect according to Rivals.

LSU CB Zy Alexander (Southeastern Louisiana)

Alexander moves up from the FCS level after three seasons as a starter in the Lions’ secondary. Alexander returned two of his three interceptions for TDs in 2022 after intercepting six passes in the 2021 fall season.

The former five-star recruit in the class of 2020 started every game for the Gamecocks a season ago and had 60 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a sophomore. He played in every game as a freshman as well and should immediately slot in as a starter along the Ducks’ defensive line.

Carter comes to Bloomington after a five-year career with the Broncos that totaled 46 games played. Carter had seven sacks in 2022 as a senior to go along with 68 total tackles and has 12.5 career sacks.

Cobb was all over the field for the Cowboys in 2022. He totaled 96 tackles and 13 tackles for loss along with an interception and a forced fumble. Alexander, Cobb and other reinforcements via the transfer portal are being counted on to bolster a USC defense that fell apart at the end of the 2022 season.

Oklahoma State linebacker Mason Cobb (0) looks over to the defense during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

Mason Cobb had over 90 tackles at Oklahoma State in 2022. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

Cypress is one of myriad impact transfers to Florida State ahead of the 2023 season. He had 39 tackles and 15 pass breakups in nine games a season ago and was a second-team All-ACC selection for the Cavaliers.

Harris is one of a host of defensive backs who came to LSU via the transfer portal in the offseason. Harris was a five-star member of the class of 2022 and the No. 4 cornerback in the country and the No. 21 high school player overall in his class. The Houston native had 14 tackles and three passes defensed in five games for the Aggies before he was suspended indefinitely because of a locker room incident ahead of A&M’s loss to South Carolina.

Hausmann was an impact player for the Huskers as a freshman with 54 tackles and two tackles for loss. He played in all 12 of Nebraska’s games and started seven. Hausmann was the No. 5 prospect in the state of Nebraska out of high school and transferred from the Huskers shortly after Matt Rhule was hired at the end of the season.

Hunter was the No. 1 high school player in the class of 2022 and shocked the recruiting world when he signed with Jackson State over Florida State. He played both ways in his freshman season at JSU and had 19 tackles and two interceptions while playing cornerback and 18 catches for 190 yards and four TDs as a wide receiver. He’s likely going to see playing time on both sides of the ball in his first year at Colorado after following Deion Sanders to Boulder.

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 17: JSU receiver Travis Hunter celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Jackson State Tigers and North Carolina Central Eagles Celebration Bowl Football Championship game at Mercedes Benz Stadium on December 17, 2022, in Atlanta, GA (Photo by Charles A. Smith/Jackson State University via Getty Images)

Travis Hunter will likely continue to play both wide receiver and cornerback at Colorado. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/Jackson State University via Getty Images)

Igbinosun was a four-star recruit in the class of 2022 and became a mainstay in the Ole Miss secondary in his freshman season. Igbinosun started 10 of the Rebels’ 13 games and had 37 tackles and five passes broken up.

McCullough was a four-star recruit and the No. 61 player in the class of 2022 when he became the highest-rated recruit to sign with Indiana. He’s now in Norman after recording 49 tackles and four sacks in his freshman season and could be one of the Sooners’ best defenders in 2023.

Florida DB RJ Moten (Michigan)

Moten transferred to Florida in May after three seasons with Michigan. He started 15 games over the past two seasons and had 65 tackles and two interceptions as Michigan made back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances. Moten’s father Ron played at Florida from 1982-86.

Speights was an immediate contributor as soon as he saw the field for Oregon State in 2019. He totaled 304 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and five sacks over four seasons with the Beavers and had 83 tackles and eight tackles for loss as a senior in 2022. He should immediately be the anchor in the middle of LSU’s defense in 2023.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 04: Omar Speights #1 of the Oregon State Beavers looks on during the first quarter against the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium on November 04, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Omar Speights had over 300 tackles in his Oregon State career. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)