In a recent article SMU 2nd year coach Sonny Dykes was talking about his quarterback Shane Buechele, who saw action in 2017 at the University of Texas before transferring over to the Mustangs. Dykes paused and then shot straight: “The transfer thing, for us, is a gold mine,” Dykes said.
Buechele is one of a slew of talented transfers sliding into the SMU program and seemingly into the line up for the Mustangs who are making fast work of becoming more competitive in the AAC West and are looking to build on the gold rush.
In fact, SMU has 18 transfers (excluding JUCOs) on the roster with players ranging from a pair of linebackers from Texas A&M and Auburn, a tight end from Alabama, another gifted looking tight end from Rice, players from Notre Dame, Illinois, West Virginia, UCLA, Boston College, Arkansas and Nebraska, among others.
Currently, the Pirates enjoy the talents of three (3) similar-type transfers. Two specialists in Punter Jonn Young (WVU) and Deep Snapper Keaton Forbes (App St.) along with late-signee WR Audie Omotosho (UCLA).
Former Coach Ruffin McNeill used to say that he didn’t want to microwave it at ECU, referring to fast-fixes with transfers who usually carry a lot of baggage. And that may be the best way to go.
But with the advent of grad transfers who can play right away – and many of those starting to be guys graduating in three years (sometimes with two years of eligibility) are the Pirates missing the boat? Is there somewhere between slow-cooking and the microwave?
If you take a look around the AAC East, you see a similar trend, particularly atop the league where Cincinnati boasts a roster with 17 transfers (from schools like Alabama, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Boston College) and UCF carries 7 including players from Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. South Florida rosters 12 such transfers hailing from places like Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Arizona State, UNC-CH, and Oklahoma. And, Temple, is employing 7 key transfers as well including players from Penn State, Baylor, Pitt, and LSU.
Joke of the post: I didn’t bother researching UConn…it would have been a waste of time.
Prior to preseason camp, UCF Coach Josh Heupel zeroed in right away on the value quality transfers bring to a team (a championship team in his case): “We have a couple transfers, a grad transfer and junior college transfer who has been here since the middle of May. I think they’re going to add great competition immediately.”
The Knights seem to be very strategic in the positions they court from big schools and the transfer portal: LINEMEN. And that strategy makes huge sense. Consider that for most college programs, the cost of a scholarship for an offensive or defensive lineman is well worth the money spent if you get two seasons with the guy on the depth chart…three seasons and you have struck big-time gold. So logic, IMO, would follow that if you are going to bring in transfers (meaning older veteran guys) go with the guys who are just coming into their “money” seasons, where they have been in an S&C program preparing to play for the last 2-3 seasons. At UCF of their 7 key transfers, there are 3 OLs, 2 TEs, and 2 DLs…guys who will be blocking and guys who will be battling guys who block.
Pivot over to Charlie Strong at USF and its pretty much virtual shopping for the Bulls and the coach wasn’t bashful about his intentions when he signed his prep class as to how he intended to improve his team.
“There’s 1,400 names right now in the portal,” Strong said back around signing day, “so you’re gonna be able to go in and get the guys that you need, which will be a great asset to us in our program.”
He delivered on that promise and his roster carries 12 such transfers and get this, it is likely that almost 20% of his two-deep heading into this season will be transfers of this type.
Food for thought as the Pirates try to ascend the AAC East standings. I share Heupel’s strategy to farm the portal for linemen, offensive and defensive. Maybe also if there are some absolute gems in other positions, but resist where you can grow talent and positions where younger guys traditionally can step in (skill positions).
IMO, over utilizing transfers decays the relationship between the fan base and the program as players are not here long enough to develop a rapport with the fans. A “Guns for hire” team also runs the risk of leaving fans less satisfied even in victory. I loved Dominique Davis and Philip Nelson, but Shane Carden and Jeff Blake are baked into the fabric of ECU lore. Aundrae Allison…awesome…Lance Lewis also awesome, but will never be to ECU what Justin Hardy, Hunter Gallimore, Luke Fisher, Dwayne Harris, and Zay Jones, et al, are. But sometimes, you get that two or three big time guys and they can keep a rolling program rolling. So maybe, our time for really dipping into the transfer portal is a few years down the road when the program is moving along with a rich talent pipeline and in need really only for a guy or two to make a difference here and there or for added depth.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the transfer portal era that has dawned in college football and what you think ECU’s position/strategy should be when it comes to roster building.
Go Pirates! Beat State!