LSU football: Who's in? Who's out? Tracking Brian Kelly, Tigers' transfer portal activity

Koki Riley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE – Brian Kelly sees the transfer portal as a coin.

There are two sides: It can be helpful, but also can be hurtful.

"I think it's one of the areas that can really get you in trouble, or really can get you out of trouble," LSU football's coach said. "... I think when you go into the transfer portal, you better know what you're getting."

For Kelly, the portal got him out of trouble in 2022. The Tigers added 16 players last offseason, including starting quarterback Jayden Daniels, all of its starting cornerbacks and starting defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo.

The result: An SEC Championship Game appearance, a win over Alabama and a nine-win regular season.

"I think (the portal) got us out of trouble because we took great character kids that could represent our program in a positive way both on and off the field," Kelly said.

But despite success in Year 1 of his tenure, Kelly has said that LSU again will dip into the portal this offseason, much to his chagrin.

"There are a couple of positions that still have holes in them that need to be supplanted with some transfers. But we're much better than we were last year," Kelly said. "We'll get better this year and then hopefully in another year, this is just about player development and bringing in freshmen."

But given their success in the portal last offseason, Tiger fans likely won't mind a return.

Here's a look at who's in and who's out for LSU football in the transfer portal.

Who's in?

Omar Speights, LB - Speights has reportedly transferred to LSU. He was an All-Pac-12 first team selection at Oregon State this past season, recording 83 total tackles and eight tackles for loss. He finishes his Beavers' career with 304 total tackles and 25 tackles for loss. After losing four linebackers this offseason, Speights fills an immediate need for LSU.

Ovie Oghoufo, DE - Oghoufo started in 12 games and recorded 36 quarterback pressures at Texas this past season. He finished his Longhorns career with 95 total tackles and 3.5 sacks but before that played for Brian Kelly at Notre Dame for three seasons.

Darian Chestnut, CB - Chestnut was a Freshman All-American at Syracuse in 2021 before following that up with a solid 2022 campaign. In that 2021 season, he was also the runner-up for ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-ACC team.

JK Johnson, CB - Johnson started five games for Ohio State this past season and played in all 13 contests. The former De Smet Jesuit High School star played under LSU cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples in high school and was teammates with Mekhi Wingo. Johnson was the No. 50 recruit in the nation coming out of De Smet, according to 247Sports Composite.

Zy Alexander, CB - Alexander was a two-time FCS All-American at Southeastern Louisiana before transferring to LSU. The Loreauville native was a three-year starter for the Lions and had offers from Southern Cal, Miami, Baylor and Michigan State while in the portal.

Jordan Jefferson, DT - Jefferson departs for LSU from West Virginia. The former Mountaineer played four seasons in Morgantown, collecting 31 total tackles and three sacks this year. Jefferson was not ranked in the 247Sports Composite rankings out of high school.

Denver Harris, CB - Harris transfers to LSU after spending his freshman campaign at Texas A&M. The former five-star signee – the No. 23 player and No. 4 cornerback in the nation from the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports Composite – played 211 snaps on defense in five games for the Aggies.

Harris would have played more if it weren't for two suspensions that cost him seven games. According to ESPN, he was suspended for the Aggies' matchup against Miami due to a curfew violation and then again for the second half of the season due to a locker room incident.

Jalen Lee, DT - Lee transfers from Florida to LSU after three seasons with the Gators. He had four tackles and one pressure in 224 defensive snaps played this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Lee, a Louisiana native, was a four-star recruit and the No. 16 player in the state out of Live Oak in Watson, according to 247Sports Composite.

Paris Shand, DL - Shand departs Arizona for LSU. He spent three years with the Wildcats, recording 21 pressures and 26 tackles. He had a career-high 11 pressures on 354 snaps played this season. Shand was a three-star recruit and the No. 102 strongside defensive end in the nation coming out of high school, The Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut.

Bradyn Swinson, Edge - Swinson transfers to LSU after spending three seasons at Oregon. He had 10 pressures on 144 defensive snaps played this past season after recording three sacks and 11 pressures the year before. Swinson was a three-star recruit and the No. 20 strongside defensive end in the nation out of Chapel Hill in Georgia.

Aaron Anderson, WR - Anderson joins the Tigers after spending his freshman campaign at Alabama. A four-star recruit and the No. 1 Louisiana prospect in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports Composite, Anderson was committed to the Tigers until coach Ed Orgeron parted ways with the program. LSU under Kelly's direction attempted to sway him back into the fold but he signed with Alabama during last year's early signing period.

Anderson, a New Orleans native, returns home after playing just three snaps on offense with the Crimson Tide, per PFF.

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Who's out?

Kardell Thomas, OL - Thomas confirmed to The Advertiser that he has entered the transfer portal. The redshirt junior played in four games for the Tigers this past season, all in a reserve role. He also started twice for LSU in 2021.

Zavier Carter, DE - Carter is reportedly transferring to UNLV after serving as a backup JACK edge rusher for the Tigers over the last two seasons, according to WAFB. Carter concludes his LSU career with seven total tackles and a sack. He was a four-star recruit and the No. 24 edge rusher in the nation in the Class of 2021, per 247Sports Composite.

Walker Howard, QB - Howard has transferred to Ole Miss after redshirting this past season with LSU. The freshman and former top-40 recruit played in two games this season, completing two passes and throwing for seven yards. With Howard out of the picture, LSU projects to have three scholarship quarterbacks in 2023: Jayden Daniels, Garrett Nussmeier and Rickie Collins.

DeMario Tolan, LB - Tolan transferred to Auburn on Jan. 8. The former four-star signee and freshman carved out a role for himself in the second half of the season, playing at least 13 snaps against Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss. However, he did not play a snap of defense in the SEC Championship Game or Citrus Bowl.

Jaelyn Davis-Robinson, DB - Davis-Robinson has transferred to SMU. The former three-star defensive back played sparingly this season as a freshman but was a standout during preseason practices.

Xavier Hill, G - Hill transfers to Memphis after playing sparingly this season. Most notably, Hill filled in for an injured Garrett Dellinger during LSU's lopsided loss to Tennessee and surrendered two pressures and a sack on 45 pass-blocking snaps. He departs after three seasons with the Tigers.

Marcus Dumervil, OT - Dumervil has decided to transfer to Maryland. The former four-star recruit from the 2020 class earned a start in 2021 and played in all 10 games last season.

Derrick Davis Jr., S - Davis has transferred to Pittsburgh after playing in the Citrus Bowl for LSU. He did not play a snap against a Power 5 opponent this season but did flash some potential as a running back in LSU's win over UAB, rushing for 28 yards on five carries.

Cam Wire, OT - Wire has transferred to Tulane after five seasons with the Tigers. He started the season-opener against Florida State, surrendering a sack and four pressures in the loss but did not play another offensive snap against a Power 5 opponent from that point on.

Kolbe Fields, LB - Fields has transferred to Louisiana Tech after just one season with the Tigers. He spent his freshman campaign at South Carolina before transferring to LSU last offseason and did not play a snap on defense this past year after Week 4.

Kole Taylor, TE - Taylor transfers to West Virginia after catching 17 passes for 159 yards in three seasons with the Tigers. The most memorable moment of his tenure came during his freshman year in 2020 when a Florida player tossed his loose shoe down the field late in the fourth quarter of the Tigers' comeback win in Gainseville. The throw led to a penalty and a 57-yard field goal from Cade York with only 23 seconds remaining, a kick that ultimately iced the win for LSU.

Desmond Little, DE - Little has entered the transfer portal, according to The Athletic, after not playing a single defensive snap after Week 4, per Pro Football Focus. The news comes despite Kelly raving about Little's improvements during preseason practices last August.

Raydarious Jones, CB - Jones missed the entire year due to an academic suspension. He enters the portal and transfers to Mississippi State after recording nine total tackles in nine appearances last season.

Damarius McGhee, CB - McGhee has transferred to Kansas after playing just two snaps as a sophomore this past season with LSU. He was formerly a top-200 recruit out of high school and started in the Texas Bowl last season.

Jack Bech, WR - Bech decided to transfer to TCU after taking a step back this season as a sophomore. Bech had 16 catches for 200 yards this year after recording 43 receptions for 489 yards as a freshman.

Antoine Sampah, LB - Sampah left LSU over the summer and has transferred to Campbell. Sampah was the No. 97 recruit in the nation upon his arrival from the Class of 2020.

Phillip Webb, LB - According to The Athletic, Webb has officially entered the transfer portal after leaving the program during the summer. Webb was the No. 57 prospect in the nation from the Class of 2020, according to 247Sports Composite.

Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.