The transfer portal is, quite simply, a game-changer for many programs.

You can go from pretender to contender, good team to title-seeker—or tumble in the opposite direction—depending on what players do when it comes to the one-time, no-penalty transfer rule.

This year has been even more wild and woolly than last year when it comes to transfers. Portal players around the nation are finding new homes, leading to excitement abound in fanbases across America. Suddenly, January and February are more about portal recruiting than high schools.

While quarterbacks and offensive skill-position talent get most of the headlines, there are countless defensive stars who could make a major impact during the 2023 season. Digging deep into the rankings is essential, though.

Portal rankings like 247Sports' seemingly weighs multiple years of eligibility with as much weight as impact ability. But that doesn't mean the highest-ranked players will post the best stats.

Let's take a look at some of the best guesses at guys, many of them veterans, who'll become known names in new jerseys next season on the defensive side of the ball.


Jordan Burch, Oregon Edge

Coach Shane Beamer's South Carolina Gamecocks made a splash last week with the national signing day coup of 5-star athlete Nyckoles Harbor and the 17th-ranked recruiting class, but the portal wasn't kind to them.

Big-time players on both sides of the ball departed Columbia, and one of those is former 5-star edge-rusher Jordan Burch. He took a while to get his career going in the SEC, but Burch finally broke out in 2022.

Now, he's heading west to play for coach Dan Lanning's Oregon Ducks just in time to play his best football and be groomed for the NFL.

The 6'6", 275-pound South Carolina native wowed a season ago with 60 total tackles, including 7.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, three pass deflections and one fumble recovery. He was all over the field for an 8-5 Gamecocks team that improved as the season progressed.

Pro Football Focus credited Burch with 29 quarterback pressures, which was good enough for second in the SEC (h/t The Athletic). With a good season in Eugene, he should surge up the draft rankings.

Pairing him with top prospect Matayo Uiagalelei should really bolster the Ducks' pass rush in '23. Look for him to have a monster season.