I’ve mentioned before that the transfer portal is one means by which the lack of parity in college football can be addressed. There are something like a thousand players in the portal now, which means there’s a ton of roster upheaval being processed, on both the losing and receiving ends.
That being said, Bud Elliott suggests there may even be a secondary consequence.
The best schools are still loading up on the best high schoolers. But for programs who are outside the current top five recruiting classes, it can be a bit of a different story. Some are leaving a lot of spots open for transfers. That’s because transfers, just like recruits, count against the cap of 25 new players a school may bring in in a given year. And this year, transfers are immediately eligible.
“If it is a borderline recruit for us, we’d rather take a transfer who we know can cut it physically at the college level,” said one staffer.
Many coaches and recruiting personnel have echoed those sentiments. Their thought is this: Why not take a transfer player who can be OK for two years and get that scholarship back quickly to use on a future recruit as opposed to risking a four-year mistake on a borderline high school prospect you’ve never worked out or seen in person? Coaches think the bust rate in this 2021 high school class might be much higher than normal due to the lack of evaluation and development time.
Take Oklahoma, North Carolina, Penn State and Florida State, which only signed an average of 16 players in the early cycle. Oklahoma has three transfers as of this writing. Penn State has four, while FSU has eight already.
With so many schools signing five or more fewer high schoolers than they normally would, doesn’t that mean the talent will likely trickle down? If the top 25 or so schools leave an average of two extra spots open for transfers, that’s 50 high school prospects who would otherwise not be available for some lesser programs to sign who are suddenly available.
“There’s no doubt,” a scouting director said on Monday. “If you are at a G5 school and you know your athletic director will be patient with you, there is absolutely an opportunity to sign some prospects who would normally be signed as flyers by P5 programs. It should trickle down to FCS schools, too.”
Sometimes the law of unintended consequences can have a positive outcome. It’ll be interesting to look back on the 2021 and 2022 classes in a couple of years to see if this is a recruiting trend that has real legs.