The biggest SEC football transfer name to surface early this offseason, and maybe the best player in the portal in the entire country in 2024, is the former Alabama Crimson Tide freshman stud safety Caleb Downs.
Downs entered his name into the transfer portal on Jan. 17 after the news of the retirement of longtime legendary Alabama head coach Nick Saban last week. Downs is one of the many Alabama players who have entered the portal during the 30-day transfer window following Saban's departure.
Where will SEC football star transfer S Caleb Downs take his talents to next after leaving Alabama?
Among all the Alabama players who have entered the portal so far this offseason, Downs is probably the most impactful departure. And that shows with him garnering the No. 1 transfer ranking in the 247Sports Composite.
247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong even said that Downs could be the "best player in college football next fall".
That's not a far fetched statement given that Downs was the first Alabama player in the modern history of the program to lead the team in tackles (107). He received Freshman All-American honors in 2023 and was named as a Pro Football Focus First-Team All-American.
Now that Downs' name is officially in the transfer portal, the race has begun for some of college football's top program to try and win his services this offseason. Here are four viable destinations for Downs in the transfer portal.
Head coach Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks have been among the most aggressive parties in the transfer portal early this offseason. Oregon has landed premier portal players in this transfer cycle, such as former Texas A&M Aggies sophomore wide receiver Evan Stewart, UCLA Bruins freshman quarterback Dante Moore, and Oklahoma Sooners super senior quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Lanning and the Ducks try to make another big splash by drastically upgrading the secondary with a rising sophomore superstar in Downs. The Ducks have made upgrading the secondary a priority in the portal this offseason.
Lanning and the Ducks already added key pieces to the secondary in Kansas State transfer Kobe Savage, UTSA transfer Kam Alexander, and Duke transfer Brandon Johnson.
But none of those would be nearly as impactful as the Ducks hypothetically getting a portal commitment from Downs.
Oregon has made it clear that it buys into its status as a Big Ten contender in 2024. In the Ducks' first year in the Big Ten, it will have many playmakers on both sides of the ball that can slot them as a top 10 squad in the preseason.
Downs is reportedly looking for a school that has the pieces necessary to be in the 12-team College Football Playoff in 2024-25 and have the resources to compete on a national level consistently. Oregon checks those boxes, especially upon the move to the Big Ten in 2024.
Oregon's biggest obstacle will be overcoming some of the early favorites tabbed in Downs' portal recruitment. But if Lanning and the Ducks are serious about throwing their hat in the ring early in this portal recruitment, you never know what can happen.