When it was ratified in April, the NCAA’s legislation allowing Division I athletes in any sport to transfer without sitting out a season or loss of eligibility, called One-Time Transfer Rule and hailed as a new era of freedom for college athletes. But that freedom may also be freezing out the recruiting prospects for some high school football players.
According to an article in The Athletic, college football coaches seem to be spending more time pursuing players via the transfer portal instead of the recruiting trail. While it appears 5- and 4-star recruits may have nothing to worry about, many 3-star and below recruits – who might have had several offers in prior years are still waiting for the phone to ring.
The squeeze is particularly notable for quarterbacks. For the class of 2022, only 113 high school quarterbacks have signed with FBS schools, which is a significant drop from the 173 high school QBs that signed just five years ago. How bad is the problem? When one Power 5 school assistant coach whose starting QB isn’t returning next season. He was asked if he was recruiting a high school quarterback, he replied, “Has to be all-world.”
What’s driving the demand for transfer players?
Early evidence indicates that transfers provide college coaches with older, more experienced players that have demonstrated they can perform at the college level. That allows a college coach to plug holes and fill key positions faster than ever, without the constraints and projection that come with recruiting high school athletes.
From a college athlete’s perspective, the one-time transfer rule represents an opportunity for a fresh start. Some are looking for playing time while others may be looking for the perfect scheme to fit their talents. But, thanks to their existing college experience, they all seem to have a leg up on a high school recruit in the eyes of college football coaches.
What the one-time transfer rule means high school recruiting in the future
Given that the one-time transfer rule is less than a year old and the majority of the transfers so far have been football players, it’s hard to predict the long-term effects on high school recruiting in football and other sports. For now, however, the transfer portal is the Wild West for college football coaches looking for hired guns. Whether the NCAA decides to act as sheriff and bring some extra law and order to the process remains to be seen.