Transfer portal changing college football recruiting of HS players
WATCH: University of Akron coach Joe Moorhead on transfer portal
University of Akron coach Joe Moorhead talks about using the transfer portal to attract talent to the program.
George M. Thomas, Akron Beacon Journal
Are high school football players overlooked by college Division I programs for programs seeking “out-of-the-box players”. Effective use of the transfer portal is important for any college program, but Akron coach Joe Moorhead sees new high school players as key to “fundamental development of your program.”
As National Signing Day hit Wednesday, there were fewer athletes putting pen to paper with Division I college football programs.
Part of that was due to the early signing day in December. But a big part of it is due to the transfer portal impacting the recruitment of high school players.
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“For high schoolers, you’re now fighting a guy who’s probably a two-year-old, three-year-old (college) player and you’ve got this 17-18-year-old that you’re trying to persuade a college to take and it’s not working like that,” Buchtel coach Bryan Williams said. “It’s almost like the NFL. If that recruit isn’t successful, you have a vet who can fill the void.
Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. has sent more than 200 athletes to Division I programs on scholarships.
What he sees is that high schoolers are being overlooked for programs that want “out-of-the-box players” and worry about where loyalties lie.
According to Sports Illustrated, in 2020, 10% of all FBS and FCS players entered the transfer portal. That number jumped to over 12% for FCS and 16% for FBS players last season. During the 2021-2022 cycle, it grew by more than 3,000 players.
When the Dec. 5-Jan. 18 transfer window opened this cycle, 1,875 players signed up according to On3.com.
The second cycle strikes from May 1 to May 15, which means last year’s number should be met or exceeded.
“You’re out of players,” Ginn Sr. “What I mean by that is you’re going to have more players. They’re going to be with you until you drive them crazy or “They don’t like what’s going on. No one will be there and stay until the end. There’s no eternity. We’re ruining the game.”
The transfer portal in college football has many layers
Coaches at both tiers said the transfer portal is like free agency, while recruiting is your draft class.
Archbishop Hoban’s trainer Tim Tyrell called it the wild Wild West and Hudson’s trainer Jeff Gough used the exact same words in a separate interview.
“Sounds like NCAA basketball, doesn’t it?” said Gough. “There will be schools where you will recruit children who come for a four-year contract and they are not looking for NIL. I am not in this world because [national image and likeness] is paired with this.
“It’s like the Wild West, which is great for those who can make any kind of money out of it. It just muddies the waters of what everyone knows. I think it becomes incredibly difficult for mid majors. It’s like a kid having a great year for Kent State basketball. You can’t blame the kid for trying to get drafted into the NBA and I think some of these kids see it as if I need to go find another chance, a bigger stage.
Gough sees both sides as there are kids locked up in bigger schools who never see the pitch but transfer without the hassle of a year’s absence.
Sam Wiglusz of Brecksville is one such success story. He continued at Ohio State but got lost on the depth board and moved on to Ohio University where he led the Bobcats with 73 catches for 877 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn all-conference honors last season.
There is also the case of the departures of coaches which allow players to leave their NLI after the season.
Where The Transfer Portal Integrates With College Football Coaches
Kent State lost 17 players on the transfer portal in December, while the University of Akron lost 15. Notable transfers included Golden Flashes quarterback Collin Schlee (now at UCLA) and wide receiver of all leagues, Dante Cephas (now at Penn State).
On the other hand, the Zips added former five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard to the Florida roster.
So far, Kent has added eight players from the Portal, while Akron has picked up three.
When Akron recruits, they don’t worry about a high school athlete walking into the portal, because the reality is there’s no way to plan it or even control it.
Zips coach Joe Moorhead said the No. 1 goal for his coaches was to assess adjustments for the program.
“Philosophically, we will never give up recruiting high school student athletes because I think that takes away the fundamental development of your program,” he said. “I think over the last couple of seasons we’ve actually leaned a little more towards the portal out of necessity and choice. Again, the portal has provided an opportunity for college programs, especially [Power Five]to add players to the roster who are talented and experienced, so I think we’d be remiss not to certainly explore those options, but never at the expense of dropping out, our high school recruiting.
The NCAA is trying to follow up on the issue and has eliminated the 25-man limit on recruiting classes.
Schools can now add the number of players needed to replace those lost to graduation or transfers, as long as the overall roster remains at 85.
Again, there is a double edged sword as there are fears that players will be kicked out of teams.
“They have to go out and search and communicate with the recruit in the portal to come to their school,” Gough said. “Then it goes to high school students, and then another wave happens after the bowling season opens, so there are three new rounds of recruiting. But I don’t think it’s all bad. I just think that’s just how you have to navigate communication with parents and children.
Nate Ulrich contributed to this story.
Contact Brad Bournival at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bbournival.