A Devy Guide to the Transfer Portal (2022 Fantasy Football)
COVID-19 has changed how Devy players need to approach how they draft their teams and manage their picks. The NCAA has allowed players to enter the transfer portal at a high rate and then let them immediately play without sitting as previously required. It almost makes a free agency concept within college football.
NCAA Rules for Eligibility
The NCAA has a lot of legal jargon that I am sure many recruits and student-athletes are not sure how to interpret. I will try to break it down to make it understandable as it relates to playing Division 1 football. The NCAA has a five-year clock on student-athletes. Once you enroll at a school, that clock starts. Even if you redshirt a season, that counts as a year. And if you play a single second of any season, that counts as a year played. You essentially have five calendar years to play four seasons of football. So when you hear the term “fifth-year senior,” that player is in a fifth academic year in college but playing a fourth season in the sport.
COVID-19 threw a wrinkle into all of this. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility if a student-athlete was enrolled in school between the 2019 spring semester through the 2021 winter semester. What that means is that the 2020-2021 season did not count towards your eligibility regardless of playing or not, meaning you now have six years to play four seasons of football. A prime example of this would be Georgia QB Stetson Bennett, who redshirted for the Dawgs in 2017, did not play a snap in 2018, and still has a final year of eligibility to play in 2022.
NCAA Transfer Process
The NCAA transfer process depends a lot on communication with your current school. To communicate with any other school, they must permit those schools to contact you or your parents. If you are given permission and decide to transfer, then for you to be eligible to play at your new school immediately, you must meet the following NCAA conditions:
– If you are transferring to a Division I school for Football, you may be eligible to compete immediately if your original school did not recruit you or you have never received an athletics scholarship.
– You are academically and athletically eligible at your previous four-year school.
– You receive a transfer-release agreement from your previous four-year school.
This makes it a lot easier to transfer to another school because, before 2020, the rules for transferring were far more straightforward. Previously, you could transfer anywhere but had to sit out the entire year. The only exception to this rule was if the student had already graduated. Then they could play immediately. It was pretty cut and dried and did not leave much wiggle room for any underclassman to transfer.
Devy Cause and Effect
So now that we know it’s relatively easy to transfer nowadays, we need to understand how this affects devy players. We have already seen several players transfer out of situations where they were not happy. Whether that be a coaching change, a loaded depth chart, a lack of chances, or just being homesick. (Hi, Brock Vandergriff!) Oklahoma fans were shocked when head coach Lincoln Riley left for USC, and they were appalled after the guy they dubbed the new Superman, former five-star recruit QB Caleb Williams, followed him there via the portal after only one season with the Sooners. (No worries, Roy Williams is still the only OU Superman.) And it is not just Caleb Williams. Here is a list of other five-star recruits who transferred to what they think will be greener pastures:
Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma ⇒ South Carolina
JT Daniels, QB, Georgia ⇒ West Virginia
Quinn Ewers, QB, Ohio State ⇒ Texas
Bo Nix, QB, Auburn ⇒ Oregon
Zach Evans, RB, TCU ⇒ Ole Miss
Bru McCoy, WR, Texas ⇒ USC
Even those who are not five-stars but were high devy draft picks like Kedon Slovis, Jaxson Dart, Travis Dye, Max Johnson, Jermaine Burton, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jayden Daniels, Mario Williams, and so many more all opted for the portal.
This is a grand time if you are a Campus-to-Canton (C2C) player because you will feel the immediate effects of the upside of some of these players. Still, we devy players who need these athletes to mature and have a chance to put themselves in a draftable position may be out of luck, because they may not get the reps or consistency they need to become a high draft pick. As I profiled in my previous article, “An Introduction to Devy Leagues,” many five-star recruits don’t materialize into high NFL draft picks. I think part of that had to do with the fact that maybe they thought they could coast to the NFL. Yet so many three-star players get drafted and materialize into great players because they grind every day to earn their way because they weren’t highly recruited and feel the need to prove to everyone how good they are.
But now that we essentially have free agency in college football, we need to do a deeper dive into many of these recruits. We will need to bring in factors and skills that we may not have had in the past because these players initially fell into such great schemes and significant positions on the depth charts, but now their status may be up in the air. We may need to look at different metrics like cone speeds, high school 40-yard dash times, the type of competition they have played against, the previous schemes they have run, whether they are multi-sport stars, etc. The more research we can do, the better off we will be, because now these players may lose one to two seasons worth of significant playing time by working their way up a new depth chart or learning a whole new playbook. It will be interesting, but devy fantasy players will need more strategy and luck to graduate those devy players to their NFL fantasy squads.
- An Introduction to Devy Leagues
- Devy Draft Strategy Guide
- Devy Sleepers to Target
- Devy Mock Draft: Round 1
- Incoming Freshmen Running Backs to Watch
- Incoming Freshmen Quarterbacks to Watch
- Incoming Freshmen Tight Ends to Watch
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.