The NCAA transfer portal seems to be more like the Dr. Pepper commercial where “Rico’s time is now” despite only being a sophomore. For the Texas Longhorns, missed opportunities are adding up after numerous transfer players have decided not to wear burnt orange next season.
The good news for UT and coach Steve Sarkisian is that Texas is in the same boat as many other college football programs. You win some, you lose some. The transfer portal has become and will continue to be increasingly college football’s version of free agency. Now, as a college graduate I understand that college students have every right to go ahead and transfer to another school if for some reason that other school works out better for them. College student athletes should have that same right to transfer to another school if for some reason the other school fits into their long-term plans – I get that. What is evolving is a scenario like turnstiles at a ballpark, thousands come in and thousands exit, and this revolving door is now the new “normal” in collegiate sports. Many programs are on the lookout for any talent in the transfer portal who can fill a needed position or add depth and experience to a starting roster.
Texas lost out on one of their key receiver targets when former Wyoming WR Isaiah Neyor decided to wear Tennessee orange rather than Texas burnt orange. Neyor brings a dominating physical size to any WR corps, and the former Arlington Lamar player was a potential signee with an opportunity to return and play in his home state. Neyor was offered a scholarship by the Longhorns on December 30th but the turmoil of looking for a wide receivers coach until Brennan Marion was brought in from Pitt might have thickened the plot a bit. However, Neyor never met Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel in person and had official visits scheduled to both Texas and USC planned before his commitment so no doubt the Texas coaches are still scratching their heads on losing Neyor in the transfer lottery. Neyor would have been a great complement to freshman breakout WR Xavier Worthy but now all we can do is watch and see how or if Neyor pans out in the SEC.
Another big transfer loss for Texas came in losing former Central Michigan safety Devonni Reed to the South Carolina Gamecocks. Again, heads are no doubt scratching as Reed had one year of eligibility left after being a four-year starter at Central Michigan. Texas had a lot of company in recruiting Reed as Missouri, Wisconsin, Louisville, Mississippi State, Colorado, Coastal Carolina as well as Texas sought the services of any experienced secondary player like Reed. Texas could have easily used Reed to replace the losses of BJ Foster, Chris Adimora and Tyler Owens as well as Brenden Schooler to graduation.
As a former coach, I understand the need to continually keep a depth chart stocked with players who can contribute to the program from day one. However, I take the opposite approach and I am truly “old school” in the sense that just as I’m ready to give 150% to help develop a player to their fullest potential as an athlete and a person, I expect that same type of commitment from the players I coach. I would be wary of any player who is nothing more than a free agent – here this season, gone the next one and off to the next program and coaching staff until they get what they are after in their athletic careers. Maybe I’m naïve and foolish to think of players investing everything they have in a program and maybe it’s a good thing I’m retired now but each player and each coach is a component of something bigger than themselves. Again, I am showing my age and mentality.