The Transfer Portal; (Recruiting Part 2)

This is Richard’s companion piece to his article College FB 2021 Recruiting – Part 1

 and how it is changing recruiting.

On October 15, 2018, a new era in college athletics began – the introduction of the NCAA approved and sanctioned Transfer Portal (TP). Prior to the TP, the student athlete was at the mercy of the head coach, the school and the athletic conference where his school resided. Restrictions were placed on future school destinations. Loss of current scholarship was threatened. Graduate transfers had another hurdle to jump as their post-graduate degree had to be in a field not offered by their current school. Once all these hoops were jumped thru, it was up to the transferee to initiate contact with approved schools.

The TP ended all that. The potential transferee now goes to the school’s compliance office and asks to be placed in the portal. Within 24- 48 hours the compliance office must place his/her name in the portal. All restrictions have been removed. I imagine a transferee can still initiate contact, but he can also sit back and wait for contact.

As we all know, the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility for those on the 2020 roster. In Pitt’s case, I believe 12 scholarship players will take advantage of the extra year. Those players will not count against the 85 man scholarship limit. Pitt can end up paying for 97 scholarships.

At this time, TP additions are subject to both old scholarship limits (85) and sit out rules. Marcus Minor, a grad transfer is immediately eligible but is included in the 85 roster cap. Devonshire as a non-graduate is included in the 85 limit, but he also has to sit one unless an appeal is made and granted for immediately eligibility. At this time, the NCAA has not passed the “first-time” transfer rule for immediate eligibility.

Both types of TP additions are also considered as a recruit. As a recruit, they are also included in the yearly 25 man cap on recruits. That cap is easily breached. You can backdate a 2021 recruit to the 2020 recruiting season as long as the school has room under the 25 cap in the prior year, the recruit(s) enters school in January and the school has available scholarships open from the prior year.

Speaking of early enrollment, that is another trend that has ballooned in the past few years. Pitt has nine early enrollees. Some of that is due to the year of the Covid. But the trend started earlier and IMO with the introduction  of the early signing period. But I ramble.

The above is my understanding of the current TP. I do not have links to back up my thoughts. Just snippets of remembered info from reading articles. I can be wrong. If so, let me know.

I use 24/7 to gather my ACC TP activity. I find the Rivals TP activity lacking. I am not going to bore you with links and what I do. But basically, I gather what I need from 24/7 and use the Rivals recruiting ranking data. That way, I am always using Rivals as a common language.

24/7 has three years of data and some very limited data on prior years on FBS TP entries. The main time frames are: 2019 – 10/18/18 thru 7/31/19, 2020 –  8/1/19 thru 7/31/20, and 2021 – 8/1/20 thru /31/2021.  IMO, 24/7 starts there new year count on 8/1 to coincide with a date that is approximately in line with the start of fall camp. By 8/1, a team roster is set for the upcoming season.

According to 247 for the first year (2019), there was 1,720 portal entries. 2020 had 1,695 and almost seven months into the 2021 year another 1,719. The 2018 and 2019 numbers are usually in every article I read on TP entrees. Never thought about the numbers until the last few weeks when I started to read a third  24/7 article that gave a weekly 2020 update and that got me wondering.

If you divide 1,719 by 130 that is 13.2 PT entries for each FBS (P5 and G5) team. Then it dawned on me that includes walk-ons both preferred and regular. Then it made some sense. Those kids want to play, and someone may give them a scholarship at the FBS, FCS, or D2 levels. I almost went down a rabbit hole with a screed on 24/7 vs. Rivals recruiting rankings. You should be thankful.

The 24/7 site identifies a TP entrée as a “Grad”. I take them at their word. Then I got to wondering why some 2016 recruits were grads and others were not. I finally concluded that their status as a Grad depends on their status when they enter the TP. Some non-grads could be Grads by the time they physically enroll at their new destination. That means my data my understate the number of Grads transferring.

Now that I have over explained the TP, how has it changed recruiting? Here is a summary chart on 2021 (8/1/2020 – 7/31/2021) ACC TP activity. (Rivals ranking data.)

This chart my be out of date by the time this article is published. The TP is constantly adding new entrees and future destinations.

So far this year the ACC as a whole is averaging 8.8 TP entrees out. It is actually more but I do not include in my data any 24/7 name that is not a Rivals recruit.

How do I interpret this chart? First off, I have the advantage of knowing the underlying data. Basically, you have to know when a player enters the portal. As an example, let us look at Boston College (BC). None of the 7 TP entries were graduates. Three entered the TP before the 2020 season end. BC now know they have 3 2021 scholarships available and can increase their overall number 2021 of recruits (26 by the chart). They still have four slots to fill and they took in Three Grad transfers (the other TP entry in was a 5-star from FSU). BC is building by normal recruiting. 

On the other hand, Georgia Tech (GT) is using the TP as a recruiting tool. Only 16 new recruits and seven TP ins. Only one of them was a Grad. GT is using the TP as a recruiting tool.

In Pitt’s case, I only have one TP entry – Michael Smith. He was not on the 2020 roster due to a medical exemption but was a prior recruit. I know his history as a Pitt fan, I added him as a TP entrant. Since I do not know the medical exemption of other ACC teams, I decided to add him to Pitt’s list to be consistent. Pitt uses the TP as both a perceived hole filler (Minor) and a recruiting tool (Devonshire).

If you look at Pitt’s 2021 24/7 TP page, you will find five names in total. Besides Smith, Minor and Devonshire, there is D.J. Turner and Paris Brown. Turner signed with Pitt on 9/1/2020, played during the 2020 season and is not returning for 2021. Brown was a 2019 walk-on. I exclude walk-ons from my data.

What do four of the five teams with double digit TP outs have in common? Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and North Carolina all have had HC changes prior to the  2019 season. There is a chance BC will join them this year in the double club and probably in the 2022 TP year as rosters shake out. I have no clue on what is going on with Syracuse. All of the non-Grad TP adds may be good moves if the NCAA first-time immediate eligibility rule is passed this year.

A huge problem with recruiting and TP activity looms on the horizon. At this time (for all teams), the expanded roster for the additional year ends after the 2021 season. Currently, the roster cap and recruiting caps will return to 85 and 25 for the 2022 season.

How does the old roster/recruiting caps effect Pitt for the 2022 recruiting season? By my count, there will be 12  members of the 2017 (of the 24-man recruiting) class returning for the 2021 season. Only Kenny Pickett will have used all his eligibility including his “free” year at the end of the 2021 season.

Without the “free” year, it was going to be a small incoming class with normal attrition and prior years grad transfers using up the last of their eligibility. IMO probably no more than a 20. If 10 or 11 decide to stay, that would mean only single digit actual recruiting class, not only for 2022 but also thru the 2025 high school recruiting class. Does Pitt keep them all or push them into the TP or do they get on with their life.

One idea being discussed, is a registry of players with a “free” year.  My understanding is that all teams would submit a list of all players eligible for the free year to the NCAA. This list would allow that player to not count against roster/recruiting caps in their “free” year on whatever team they could be on. It seems a simple solution but may meet resistance from some FBS teams (think teams with consistently low ranked recruiting classes that have no problem with pulling scholarships) that see this as an opportunity to upgrade their rosters.

The NCAA created a problem with the “free” year. I believe they did it with good intentions but did not think it through. Now they have to solve the problem.

Here is a link to the 24/7 TP data. The opening page is a listing of all players in the TP. By using the dropdown tab “team”, you can find that individual team activity.

2021 Football Transfer Portal (

Here is a link to an article link, I found on Pittsburgh Sports Now (PSN). It is actually a link to West Virginia Now and references TP activity in the Big 12.

Transfer Numbers High Across Big 12 Football | WV Sports Now

Once again let me know if you take any issue with my interpretation of what is going on with the TP, Recruiting and the NCAA.

31 thoughts on “The Transfer Portal; (Recruiting Part 2)

  1. Interesting read, great work.

    How many of the transfers out end up at non-P-5 schools? In other words guys that can’t cut it at the highest level.
    Do the transfers get included in the total recruiting evaluations by Rivals etc.?
    Why does Pitt have the fewest transfers out? Is that good or bad?

    I assume that UNC with 16 out and 1 in is a reflection of their excellent recruiting.


    1. Gordon, Players in non-superstar programs who enter the portal are run of the mill kids who better programs don’t really want. Look at the kids Pitt is picking up via the transfer portal and who is transferring out:

      Not one player in that 2020 class is a difference maker. That year we had eight players transfer out vice four who transferred in. All in all since 2018 QB Yellen, LB Kylan Johnson and TE Griffen-Stewart seem to be the best kids we got out of the portal and they are average at best.

      I sincerely wonder what our best transfer-in QB Nate Peterman would have done had he been offered by more than just one school and that based on having played under our OC.


      1. No doubt the rich get richer and Pitt treads water.
        I did think Kylan Johnson was better than average and helped a weak linebacker group become a little above average.
        I am interested to see what Lucas Krull does this year.


      2. The 247 article does show that most of the kids that left Pitt went to non P-5 schools which is not a big surprise.


    2. Gordan – I only track ACC (& Tennessee) TP activity. Of the 71 ACC transfer out that have found a new home – 26 P5, 32 G5, 13 FCS/other.

      Not sure what Rivals does on TP activity. I use 24/7 for my TP activity (and then use Rivals H.S. recruiting ranking). 24/7 on their TP home page starts by using H.S. ranking. They then re-rank based on college career. If use use the first link I provided, you may see two rankings – HS & T. The “T” is the updated rank.

      I don’t use 24/7 for normal recruiting. But 24/7 does include TP in activity on team recruiting page but not in calculating the normal recruiting ranking.

      My personal belief is that Pitt makes certain commitments to recruits. As long as the recruit lives up to their end of the bargain, they can remain. I don’t know for sure but I believe they offer a 4 year scholarship. They try to create a family atmosphere. There was a 3-2-1 article on PantheLair that discussed the family issue. All-in-all, Pitt tries to live up the student athlete idea. I like that. If you only want wins & wins now, it is probably not the best way to go.

      UNC has had 34 TP out since 2019. Their recruiting has increased over the Fedora years, IMO, Brown only uses the portal to patch holes. I think Brown was caught off guard when both of their 2020 season stud running backs went pro. I am making an assumption that Brown felt he needed someone with actual starting experience when a Tennessee experienced Grad transfer came on the market.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried to find what a athletic actually costs a university in real dollars i.e. cash the school has to spend to keep a D1 athlete in school per year…good luck with that. Maybe it’s a state secret.

    We all know that a kid receiving a full ride scholarship is said to be getting. $XK worth of benefits, usually around $30K to $50K per year depending on the school. But it is silly to think any school is actually paying that amount out of it’s athletic budget.

    Yet how many times have we heard a full FB scholarship at Pitt costs $30K (actual amount is $29,681) and they beg donors to fund those scholarships at that level? See this link and search for “Pitt”:

    There is no way in Hell Pitt is paying out $2,522,885 for the 85 scholarships in FB per year. That might be what they lose in tuition, etc income but it sure isn’t being spent in hard dollars.

    Does someone know facts about this issue that could enlighten us?


    1. Reed, last summer I received a request from the athletic department for a donation and on the info PITT supplied the total cost to support each athlete. It was north of $70,000 per year. It make sense,,,not just tuition-add in medical costs, food, travel, coaching and administrative expenses, uniforms, laundry…I am probably missing a few…


  3. Richard — that’s an interesting article and a lot of work, thank you. For some reason I was wondering about the Portal’s effect on schools like, well, The Citadel… 😊

    Hoping ike has a decent day.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never looked at The Citadel but I think its like Army, Navy, Air Force & VMI. Maybe others that calls for a more structured & disciplined approach to higher education. That takes someone who has a higher calling than a normal college student athlete. If someone wants to go there they will do it as freshmen. Now, I have seen players enter the portal from the 3 main service academies.

      But if you want to know about FCS/other (JUCO, real D2 not the D2 that old fuddy duddies call FCS), 13 of the 71 ACC players who have found a home are going the FCS/other route.

      I’m sticking with I like Ike.


  4. In case anyone is interested, today is Pitt’s “Day of Giving.”

    I will be making modest contributions to:
    —The Civil Engineering Department; —EXCEL, a program to encourage minorities to study engineering (started at Pitt by my engineering adviser);
    —Women’s Basketball; and

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good article. I think the majority of teams use the portal to fix depth issues. I would think QBs that were highly rated out of high school but are riding the pine are the most sought after.


    1. QB’s are in high demand. Just looked at the underlaying ACC TP entrees. All but 4 of 16 have already found a new home. The two biggies are from Miami – N’Kosi Perry & Tata Martell, 4.- stars 5.8 & 6.0 respectively. The other two were backups from Duke & BC (both 3-stars 5.6).

      I use “recruiting” in TP as a mean to fill future needs either as starters or backups. Kind of like Pitt taking 5 OL in the 2021 recruiting class to fill future needs. I use holes (mainly Grads) to fill immediate needs either as starters or backups.

      That is how I think of depth in the TP, at least at the P5 level. Glad you liked the article.


  6. Very good analysis Richard. It did make my head spin a bit but that could have also been the crepe myrtle branch that hit me in the head as I was pruning it this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I also spent the morning trimming but it was low hanging tree branches using a pole saw (gas


  7. I have no idea what the heck is being analyzed. We need to recruit kids who can win games then all things will be well; spirit, crowds, media exposure, applicants, and money.


    1. OPG – The transfer portal (TP) is just another way to recruit. It has changed the current college football landscape since it inception in late 2018. The main difference is normal recruiting is for players from high school. The TP is for players already enrolled in college that want to leave their current team.

      You are right in your 2’nd sentence.

      If you have any specific questions about the transfer portal, I will try to answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If X is transferring out as the rumor says, can pitt block him from going to a school on their schedule next year. I would do that out of spite. Good luck X making the starting 5 for IUP.


    1. Tex – Be above the board – we are not here to bash student athletes – only civil discussion our Pitt sports teams..


      1. I’m not above board when it comes to a player being selfish. With an attitude problem. With a work ethic problem. In the real world, he would have been fired long ago. Good riddance to X. Capel enabled him. That’s not good coaching. But you probably never coached to understand that.

        I admire Bobby knight more and more each day. And parcels in football.


      2. And you’re a fan of PSU. That’s penn State?

        Is that true?

        If so you are a hypocrite. Joe pa enabled Sandusky for over 40 years

        And child rape is one of the few things in my life that amp me.

        Your handle stinks.

        You have no right to tell me anything.

        I admire the Nitter spirit but nothing else particularly the coverup and crimes.

        Joe knew

        It’s inconceivavle that you can be a fan of both schools. That’s like me and Aggies



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