At three positions on defense, the University of Toledo football team is counting on contributions from graduate transfers from “Power Five” programs.
In the Rockets’ first game against Arkansas State, Earl Moore, Jeremi Powell, and Desmond Frye each saw the field for the first time in a Toledo uniform.
“It felt good, just getting back out there and getting some reps under my feet and getting back into that game mode,” said Frye, a safety who transferred from Virginia Tech.
Moore, a Miami (Fla.) transfer, started at defensive tackle against Arkansas State and said the defensive line was able to work well together.
“It felt great being out there with players like John Stepec and Treyvon Hester,” Moore said. “Those guys really bring the love of the game to me and it makes us better together. I felt the defensive line was really the key. We really dominated up front and that really helped everyone else out from there to do their jobs.”
The NCAA allows players who have graduated and have eligibility left to transfer to a different school without having to sit out a year.
Moore had two tackles against Arkansas State and has adjusted quickly to a new defensive system.
“Earl is a guy that just keeps getting better and better,” UT coach Jason Candle said. “He is new to our system obviously and this is a new place for him. As he becomes more familiar, I think the higher the level of play he can bring for us.
“I commend him being in a new environment in a short amount of time and being able to play at a high level.
“That’s been impressive. Now can he find that consistency and can he find the way to finish off like he started? That is yet to be seen, but I hope so.”
Powell, a University of Florida transfer, saw time on special teams and at linebacker and said he felt some nerves being back out on the field.
“I felt like a freshman just being on the field again because I haven’t been on the field in so long,” Powell said. “It was great. I was a little nervous, but that’s just what comes. I like it when I’m a little nervous because that means I’m going to play well.”
Powell had four tackles in the first game, while Frye recorded one.
“Both guys have done a great job of fitting in defensively at linebacker and at safety,” Candle said. “I think those guys will continue to get better as time goes on and they become more familiar with coverage checks and all the things that go into playing smart, efficient defense.”
Toledo had success with a graduate transfer last season, as Ruben Carter from Florida State ended up starting at center the whole season.
Also on Toledo’s roster as graduate transfers this season are former Whitmer and Michigan State cornerback Mark Meyers and former Iowa State wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery. Neither player saw action against Arkansas State.
Moore, Powell, and Frye each said they are impressed with the talent and athleticism that this Toledo team has shown.
“I love the guys here,” Powell said. “Everyone here is good. I played with some great players and with some of the players I learned from at Florida, I just try to take what I learned there and put it here and just work hard. We’re just trying to be the best defense, just like we did at Florida.”
The three graduate transfers said they have yet to experience a gameday at the Glass Bowl and are looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd when UT hosts Maine on Saturday.
“I’ve never seen it,” Moore said.
“I only saw it on film a few times. I’m excited. It’s going to be interesting. I’m going to try to keep my emotions in control because it’s going to be real exciting.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.