Transfer Portal Blues

Colorado fans optimism about the 2021 season was buoyed by CU’s selective additions from the Transfer Portal.

Sure, there were losses from the roster, but it seemed like it was a net win for the program, as the Buffs picked up some players who had impressive resumes.

Nearing the midway point of the disappointing 2021 campaign, however, the Transfer Portal has not been kind to the Buffs.

Let’s take a look at what Colorado gained, and what Colorado lost, in this off-season’s roster merry-go-round:

New to Boulder … 

Atanza Vongor … A four-star safety from TCU, Vonger was coming to Boulder this past spring … until he wasn’t. Vonger never enrolled at CU, and wound up at South Alabama;

JT Shrout … A three-star quarterback from Tennessee, Shrout came to CU in January, and participated in spring practices. Unfortunately for all concerned, Shrout was lost for the season with a leg injury in August. The debate will rage on through the off-season – Would CU have been this bad if Shrout had been the starting quarterback?;

— Blayne Toll … A three-star tight end/defensive end from Arkansas, Toll was to bring added depth to the defensive line. Toll played in three games, for a total of 32 plays, registering three tackles, before announcing that he was going to transfer to another school next spring;

Noah Fenske … A three-star offensive lineman from Iowa, Fenske has played in only one game so far this season, starting at center against Minnesota when regular starter Colby Pursell was ill. Fenske’s debut was inauspicious, as his first snap as a Buff sailed past quarterback Brendon Lewis, resulting in a ten-yard loss;

Max Wray … A four-star offensive lineman from Ohio State, Buff fans were very excited to get Wray in the fold. Rated as the No. 9 offensive tackle in the nation as part of the Recruiting Class of 2018, Wray was slated to fill the gap in the offense when Will Sherman left for the NFL. Banged up throughout camp, Wray has only started one game (v. Texas A&M). Wray has not played the last two games;

Jack Lamb … A four-star linebacker from Notre Dame, Lamb was rated as the No. 4 inside linebacker in the nation from the Recruiting Class of 2017. Lamb has been used sparingly so far this season, mostly in nickel packages. Prior to the USC game, Lamb had participated in 23 plays over three games, recording five tackles (three unassisted). Against USC, Lamb saw more action, being in for 20 plays (three tackles, one unassisted, one third down stop);

Robert Barnes … A four-star linebacker from Oklahoma, Barnes was rated as the No. 92 overall prospect in the nation from the Recruiting Class of 2017. Over four games so far this season, Barnes has been in the CU lineup for 62 plays, with seven tackles (five unassisted, one third down stop).

While there is still plenty of time for these transfers to play a significant role this season – and beyond – it’s not a stretch to say that the Buff Nation was hoping for more from this group.

Consider this … at the 247 Sports composite team talent rankings, Colorado’s 85-man roster comes in at No. 51 in the nation in overall talent. According to 247 Sports, CU’s lineup has zero five-star prospects, seven four-star prospects, 73 three-star prospects, and four two-star prospects.

Of the seven four-star prospects on the Buff roster, any guesses who are the top three rated players? …

  • Roberts Barnes … four stars … .9574
  • Jack Lamb … four stars … .9547
  • Max Wray … four stars … .9543

In case you are wondering, the other four-star players on the current roster are running back Ashaad Clayton, cornerback Christian Gonzalez, safety Isaiah Lewis, and wide receiver Brenden Rice.

That’s it … three of CU’s seven four-star players are new to the roster this fall.

So, yes, it would be a fair statement that Buff fans were excited about what the Transfer Portal brought to Boulder this spring.

It would also be a fair statement that, to date, our hopes have not been met.

Now, as to what CU lost this past season to the Transfer Portal … 

Sam Noyer … The last Colorado quarterback, dating back to Joel Klatt, to finish his career at Colorado with a winning record (4-2). Of course, it’s conjecture as to what would have happened if Noyer had not transferred to Oregon State, but the reality is that the Buffs in 2020 were not the 130th-rated offense in the country with Noyer at the helm;

K.D. Nixon … Nixon is one of the top 20 wide receivers in Colorado history. Nixon surprised us all by transferring to USC this past offseason. Nixon has only two catches (for 19 yards) so far this season, to go with a handful of kick returns for the Trojans. But, considering the lack of production by the CU passing game this season, whose to say he would have any better numbers this fall had he stayed in Boulder;

Tyler Lytle … Beaten out by Sam Noyer for the starting job at quarterback for the 2020 season, Lytle transferred to UMass. Lytle started the opener against Pitt, a 51-7 loss, completing 14 of 31 passes for 167 yards. Lytle has not played since the first game for the 0-5 Minutemen;

Antonio Alfano  … CU’s all-time highest-rated recruit, the five-star player from the Class of 2019 never suited up for the Buffs. The former Alabama recruit had off-field issues, and is currently enrolled at Independence Community College (Kansas).

Others …

  • Running back Jaren Mangham … wound up at South Florida. Mangham leads the 1-4 Bulls with 57 carries for 189 yards and nine touchdowns;
  • Running back D.J. Oats … did not find a new home;
  • Offensive lineman Valentin Senn … is now playing for UConn, and has seen action in one game to date;
  • Defensive back K.J. Trujillo … transferred to Wake Forest, but has yet to see any action;
  • Linebacker Akil Jones … is not listed as having found a home for the 2021 season;
  • Defensive back Derrion Rakestraw … transferred closer to home, and is playing for the Tulane Green Wave. In the first five games of this season, Rakestraw had 11 tackles (eight unassisted) and an interception;
  • Safety William Anglen … did not find a place to play this fall; and
  • Defensive lineman Jason Harris … transferred back to his home state to play with his brother. Will be on the opposing sideline on October 16th when the Buffs take on the Arizona Wildcats. Jason’s brother, Jalen, is second on the team in tackles, but Jason has yet to see any playing time.

So, where does that leave CU … 

No sense in stating the obvious … if either Sam Noyer or Tyler Lytle had not transferred, CU might very not be playing a freshman at quarterback this season, and might have better than a 1-4 record.

It should also go without saying that the Buff Nation was expecting more from its three former four-star prospects. Robert Barnes, Jack Lamb, and Max Wray all brought better resumes to the Champions Center than any of the other 82 players on the 2021 roster, but have not been the top three Buffs on the field.

Barnes is a graduate transfer, who still has a year of eligibility remaining after this fall. Jack Lamb and Max Wray both have two more full years to play in Boulder after this seasons. All three may grow into All-Pac-12 players, but none of the three are playing at that level now. JT Shrout may be the answer at quarterback, but we won’t know until next fall.

In the meantime, the Transfer Portal, like the team in general this fall … has been a disappointment …

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8 Replies to “Transfer Portal Blues”

  1. It’s hard to say. Like others I think it takes a year to adapt to a new system, and next year some of the transfers will turn out to be solid starters. But, there were definitely some portal guys on opposing teams that were playing at a high level. Maybe they are coming into similar systems.

  2. Ok Stuart, I have to say this is one of the few times I don’t really agree with you.

    The transfer portal is a crap shoot at best. But if you look at the members that left and the players that came in, we got the better talent in. Most of the LB transfers were meant to give us depth and that it did. So makes us better in the next 2 years.

    I have to admit, Wray has been the disappointment for me but the rest I am ok with how it has added depth.

    The million dollar question for me was why did Noyer choose to transfer out. He must have seen Lewis as being a player that was going to easily going to beat him out. So what happened between the time that Noyer was thinking no way I am going to beat Lewis out to now. Lewis has trouble completing a WR screen and a RB swing pass, 2 of the easiest passes in football. What did Noyer and the coaches see that was so impressive? I am hoping this is a Sophomore slump that is so commonly referred to in a players early years.

    This has been a really tough season so far to watch and Lewis is at the middle of it for me. But I still think our future is bright with the amount of young players getting game experience.

    Thanks for all you do Stuart.

  3. Can anyone expound on the reported shouting match between the HC and the OC in the CU locker room? Rumor has it that the OC refused to take blame for the HC designed offensive scheme that has the team floundering.

  4. I always thought that when a 4 star or 5 star player didn’t pan out somewhere and transfered, it was likely they really never were 4 or 5 star players. Sure they might have had the athleticism, but it takes a lot more than that to be an elite football player

  5. Not always fair to say the new players haven’t lived up to their billing. It is a new system they are adjusting to, they may have injuries that limit their practice time to get acclimated, and 3 their strengths may not be optimized by our offensive/defensive system. Barnes is a classics example if we still used the Buff/Star backer he might be doing great. Without using that scheme much, he is seen as not meeting expectations but he could be a star (no pun intended). let’s see how they do next year when they are settled in and the coaches can plan for their talents. As always, I wish all the young men all the best both on, and more importantly off the field. Go Buffs

  6. So far, the portal seems like a wash for CU to me. No worse, no better. Although had Noyer stuck around that would have helped when jt went down.

    Go Buffs

  7. Tough deal to be a Buff coach.
    Underpaid
    Overworked
    Underappreciated

    Go Buffs.

    Note: Okay this is a player review after 5 games with conjecture. Now do the coaches review.

    Note 2: Buff offense rankings
    2021 129th
    2020 48th
    2019 82th
    2018 75th
    2017 48th

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