In recent years, the transfer portal has become a game-changer in college football. It’s not just about finding the next star player; it’s about securing a competitive edge, ensuring a quick path to victory, and even eyeing the NFL.
Changing the Competition Landscape
According to Seiler, the surge in transfers has significantly altered the landscape of competition for starting positions in college football programs. He emphasizes that coaches are now under more pressure than ever to win quickly. To make this happen, they are increasingly turning to the transfer portal for physically developed, experienced players. This shift has had a profound impact on player development within college programs.
In Seiler’s words, “With college coaches now making so much money, they are given shorter leashes and greater expectations to win now and do it quickly. How do you make that happen? You go to the portal for veteran players who are physically developed and have played at the college level for multiple years.”
Seiler further notes that this change has led to a shift in attitudes among both transfer players and those already in the program. “It is no longer about the glitz and glamor,” he says. “It is about having the opportunity to compete, win championships, and get to the NFL. So to answer the question, yes, the attitudes have changed for both transfers and kids in the program.”
The numbers speak volumes. Seiler provides statistics that illustrate the growing influence of transfer players. “In 2023, 33% of on-field production is being done by transfers, for reference, in 2022, it was 25%,” he states, referencing data from Sport Source Analytics. Additionally, he highlights projections from August 2023 that suggested a remarkable 62% of starting quarterbacks at Power 5 schools would be transfers.
transfer portal Strategies in a New Landscape
College football programs are adapting rapidly to this new transfer-heavy landscape, and Seiler offers valuable insights into the strategies at play:
- Key Positions: According to Seiler, specific positions are particularly sought after in the transfer portal. “Offensive Line/Defensive Line/QB’s and impact WR’s will always be the most sought-after positions,” he emphasizes.
- Casting a Wider Net: Programs are not afraid to explore talent from lower divisions, such as the FCS and D2, if the players have shown high productivity. “Another trend that I tell high school kids all the time is that if you go to a smaller school and play early and produce at a high level in 1-2 years, you will have opportunities to move up,” notes Seiler.
- Lack of Depth: Seiler observes that there’s a growing lack of depth at positions, even in top programs. This has created an environment where players who can’t secure playing time are increasingly opting to transfer. “The days of sitting and developing feel all but over,” he remarks.
Influential Transfer portal Players
Seiler’s experience at ASU and in college football provides valuable insights into how transfer players can significantly influence a team:
“It’s hard to reference one particular instance, but if you asked anyone at any school in the country, they would probably answer with something along the lines of this… At the end of the year as a player, you can no longer assume you will automatically move up the depth chart. You need to now assume you are going to be replaced or someone is coming in to compete for your job.”
Seiler goes on to highlight some examples, such as Cam Rising, Bo Nix, Cameron Ward, and Caleb Williams, to illustrate the impact transfer players can have on a program. “Cam Rising changed the culture at Utah and brought consistency to that program. Bo Nix was basically kicked out the door at Auburn and has done nothing but elevate and stabilize that program after Justin Herbert left,” he explains.
Balancing Recruits and Transfers
Seiler provides a nuanced perspective on how college football programs balance their recruiting efforts between high school recruits and transfers, particularly in positions with intense competition:
He emphasizes the importance of evaluating the current roster and recruiting class to identify areas for improvement. “In my opinion, it can sometimes be very clear-cut on where your program needs to develop and improve via the portal before the next year,” Seiler explains.
Player development remains a critical aspect of college football. “Some programs believe in it more than others,” he states. While Seiler believes that you can’t completely abandon high school recruiting, he acknowledges that the right formula varies for every program.
“If I was a head coach, my program would take a 60-40 to 70-30 portal/HS prospect approach until I solidified what my roster looked like, and then it would shift closer to 50/50.”
Matt Seiler’s insights provide a compelling narrative of the impact of the transfer portal on college football programs and player dynamics. As the landscape continues to evolve, the ability to navigate the transfer portal effectively will remain a critical aspect of a college football program’s success. The days of assuming a starting position at the end of the year are over. It’s a new era of competition and adaptability.