The Transfer Portal: NCAA’s version of free agency

Just this week we have heard a new, catchy phrase come to light in the College Football world. That phrase is, “The Transfer Portal”.

Jalen Hurts drops back to pass” by Phillip Hendon is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some may picture it as a Sci-Fi, Star Trek type place where Scottie is begging the captain for more power. But more football eccentric people are viewing it as NCAA’s version of free agency. Though it is not new for players to transfer out of their previously chosen school once they graduate to play somewhere else, players leaving before they graduate to play somewhere else is becoming the new normal.

Russell Wilson graduated from North Carolina State, failed at baseball for a year, and then as a graduate transfer went to Wisconsin where he won a Big Ten title, came close to a Rose Bowl and really garnered the attention from the NFL as a potential starter. Also, NFL running back Charles Sims benefited from transferring after graduating. He started his career at Houston, but transferred to West Virginia for his final year of eligibility. The move proved to be a smart business decision, as he had a 1,000-yard season and was the 69th overall pick in the 2014 draft.

The trend though has now moved away from the graduate transfer, which by the way grants automatic eligibility to play. It has switched over to kids transferring due to playing time or other various reasons that have been proven football related.

It is no secret these kids are getting recruited, going to these top programs and then are there for one reason. Football. Academic’s is rarely considered when a kid decides to transfer to another school. You don’t hear a player say he wants to go to this school because of its killer sports management program.

It is getting extremely evident with the recent names that have found their way into the Transfer Portal why these kids are leaving.

Names like Justin Fields, Tate Martell, Jalen Hurts and Kelly Bryant are the big dogs that have used the portal, but it is flooded with players with hopes and dreams of salvaging their shot at an NFL career. Jalen Hurts and Kelly Bryant both had starting jobs at schools who were both in the National Championship last Monday night. Both lost the competition to young, highly recruited freshman and both are looking for a new job. Bryant picked SEC school Missouri, but Hurts just started his recruiting process all over again, with schools like Maryland and Miami interested in his skills.

The others, Justin Fields and Tate Martell, were both highly sought after recruits coming out of high school. Martell came out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and was considered one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks to come out of high school in a long time. He stared in a Netflix documentary and became a household name to more than just the high school football nuts. Martell picked Ohio State and has seen some time on and off, spelling for Heisman Trophy candidate Dwayne Haskins this past season. Haskins recently declared for the draft.

Justin Fields was the number one recruit last year out of Georgia. The Cam Newton like quarterback has scary athleticism for his size and a cannon for an arm. The five-star recruit picked his home state university, Georgia, late into his senior season knowing that Jake Fromm had the starting job strongly at hand. Fields didn’t see the field at all, even when Bulldog fans were begging coach Smart to put him in.

One can only assume Fields wanted to play, didn’t like sitting on the bench, and made a business decision by putting his name in the transfer portal, choosing to move on over to Ohio State. The same Ohio State who just lost their starting quarterback to the draft.

Rules are in place that demands a transferring player to sit out a year before he can see the field. That same rule was waved this past season when Shea Patterson gained immediate eligibility after transferring from Ole Miss to Michigan. Though the NCAA has made a living off being inconsistent, I would imagine the backlash if they decided to uphold the rule in this situation when they didn’t in Patterson’s.

So I am willing to put money on the fact that Fields will be starting as the Buckeye’s quarterback next season.

Now that brings me back to Martell. The kid has been sitting and waiting for a chance to start. On comes Justin Fields, which causes a whirlwind in Columbus. Now Martell is rumored to have put his name into the portal of transfers. Rumors that seem to be turning into reality with teams like Miami and West Virginia interested in him coming over.

If more and more players are going to be able to waive the rule and be granted immediate eligibility to play, then I am already foreseeing an ESPN 30 for 30. A story where a coaching staff influenced many to come and transfer to their school. In the day in age we live in, any coach can find a way to contact a player.

You can’t tell me that a coach will have alumni or booster contact someone privately and make them an offer to come transfer over to their school. Instead of recruiting for a replacement in the high school ranks, maybe they will start shopping the benches of other schools. Players who have been redshirted already, but still do not have a starting spot. Though some of us do not like to acknowledge it, we all know that not all schools are honest in their recruiting. It is safe to assume that those same schools are going to find a way to exploit this portal.

Could be the new age of College Football recruiting and another way the NCAA can further their hand in corruption. Corruption all starts when dishonest people find a loophole in a system that is meant for the honest ones and use it for their own success. It all started as graduate transfers looking for another shot at football. Fast forward a couple of years later, and now you are seeing the start of free agency in College Football.


One reply to “The Transfer Portal: NCAA’s version of free agency

  1. Another excellent piece. And I’m operating under the assumption that the practice of re-recruiting players is already commonplace. The natural progression is to dredge the benches and depth charts of top college football programs for 4 & 5-Star kids – who are a year or two away from playing time – and convince them to transfer.


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