Transfer Portal Ins and Outs

An important date in the world of college football passed quietly this past week.

The first window of the Transfer Portal, which opened on December 4th, closed on January 2nd. Players who wished to put their names into the Portal, looking for a new home, had to make their wishes known during the open window. Over 500 names were entered into the Portal in the first 24 hours, and over 2,100 players overall entered in the past month (players who played in New Year’s Day bowl games the College Football Playoffs have a one week extension).

Before we talk about the names and numbers involving your Buffs, a short primer on the Portal …

The NCAA shortened the winter Transfer Portal this season from 45 days to 30 days. There will be a second Portal this spring, a 15-day window from April 15-30.

Names are submitted to the Portal through the school’s compliance office. Once a player gives written notification of their intent to transfer, the office puts the player’s name into the database, and they officially become a transfer. The compliance office has 48 hours to comply with the player’s request and NCAA rules forbid anyone from refusing that request.

The database includes the player’s name, contact information, info on whether the player was on scholarship, and if he is a graduate student. (Graduate students can enter their name into the Portal at any time, but must submit their names to the Portal before May 1st in order to be eligible this fall).

Once a player’s name appears in the transfer portal database, other schools are free to contact the player, who can change his mind at any point in the process and withdraw from the transfer portal. Notably, once a player enters the portal, his school no longer has to honor the athletic scholarship it gave him.

While there are strict rules about entering the Transfer Portal, the rules for players who commit to a team from the Transfer Portal are more fluid.

When a player sends in a Letter of Intent to a school, and the school accepts, the school becomes bound to the player, but the player is not bound to the team … until they actually enroll at the school, which can be important.

So, the 18 transfers CU signed on December 20th are still not officially in the fold until school starts this spring (CU’s spring semester starts January 16th, for those scoring at home), or in June, for those players who are completing their studies at their original schools.

Not that there are any of the players who have indicated they are coming to CU are wavering, but we can’t yet fully call these players Buffs. CU fans remember the name of Davis Webb. Webb was a Texas Tech quarterback who indicated in January of 2016 that he was going to transfer to CU for his senior year. Webb was nine credits short of graduating, so he stayed in Lubbock that spring.

After graduating, Webb transferred to … Cal.

Most of the transfer commitments will be enrolling in January, but there are a few Buffs to be, including Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard, who are staying at their old schools this spring.

So stay tuned …

Now, back to your Buffs …

A total of 11 players from the 2022 CU roster entered their names into the Transfer Portal during the first window, a surprisingly low number. Considering that CU was basically a completely new team this past fall, it stood to reason that there would be some disgruntled transfers who were not happy with how the 2023 season turned out for them personally. There were bound to be players who felt that they did not get the opportunity to play as much as they thought they might, considering that CU went into the season with no established lineup.

Add in the fact that half of the coaching staff is turning over, including both coordinators, and it would not have been shocking to see more defections.

But only 11 players left the program (I’m including tight end Michael Harrison on my list, who was a walk-on at CU, but joined San Diego State as a scholarship player).

The list, along with those players who have found new homes … 

Quarterbacks … Kasen Weisman (12/4) …

Running backs … Anthony Hankerson (Oregon State) …

Wide receivers … Grant Page (12/4) … Willie Gaines (1/2) …

Tight ends … Caleb Fauria (11/27) … Michael Harrison (San Diego State) …

Offensive linemen … Van Wells (Oregon State) … Gerad Lichtenhan (Oregon State) …

Defensive tackles … none

Edge rushers / Outside linebackers … Eoghan Kerry (12/4) …

Inside linebackers … Marvin Ham II (11/28) …

Defensive backs … Kyndrich Breedlove (Purdue) …

Specialists … none

Now, let’s break down what Coach Prime is losing …

Of the 11, only four have a 247 grade of .88 or above: Marvin Ham (.92), Caleb Fauria (.89), Anthony Hankerson (.88), and Kyndrich Breedlove (.88).

Now, let’s take a look at the 18 transfers who are coming to Boulder this fall (and the schools they played for in 2023)… 

Quarterbacks … Destin Wade (Kentucky) … Walter Taylor (Vanderbilt) …

Running backs …

Wide receivers … Terrell Timmons, Jr. (North Carolina State) … Will Sheppard (Vanderbilt) … Cordale Russell (TCU) …

Tight ends … Chamon Metayer (Cincinnati) …

Offensive linemen  … Yakiri Walker (UConn) … Tyler Johnson (Houston) … Justin Mayers (UTEP) … Kahlil Benson (Indiana) … Phillip Houston (Florida International) …

Defensive tackles … Quency Wiggins (LSU) … Anquin Barnes (Alabama) … Chidozie Nwankwo (Houston) … Samuel Okunlola (Pitt) …

Edge rushers / Outside linebackers … Keaten Wade (Kentucky) …

Inside linebackers … DJ Lundy (Florida State) …

Defensive backs … Preston Hodge (Liberty) …

Specialists … none

While only four of the departing Buffs were graded at .88 or above, only six new Buffs have a 247 Sports rank below .88: Offensive tackle Phillip Houston (.86), defensive tackle Chidozie Nwankwo (.87), defensive tackle Anquin Barnes (.86), edge rusher Keaten Wade (.87), quarterback Destin Wade (.86), and offensive lineman Kahlil Benson (.87).

Or, to put it another way …

Only one outgoing Buff had a four-star grade (.90 or higher), being Marvin Ham at .92. Meanwhile, six of the new Buffs received four-star status: safety Preston Hodge (.90); defensive lineman Quency Wiggins (.92); offensive lineman Tyler Johnson (.90); defensive lineman Samuel Okunlola (.92); wide receiver Will Sheppard (.91); and tight end Chamon Metayer (.90).

Another way of looking at how much the roster has improved since the Transfer Portal opened is to look at where players are coming from, and where former Buffs have landed.

Of the 11 Buffs who have left the team, to date only five have found new homes, while six remain homeless. While there is certainly time for them to find new scholarship opportunities, the window to find Power Five roster spots is closing, as teams are looking for their new players to join the team for spring practices if at all possible.

Of the five who have found a new team, three are now playing for Oregon State (arguably no longer a Power Five school, with the Beavers playing a Mountain West conference heavy schedule this fall), with tight end Michael Harrison following offensive coordinator Sean Lewis to San Diego State. (Update: Kyndrich Breedlove Sunday committed to Purdue).

Meanwhile, Colorado has focused on picking up players with Power Five conference experience. Fourteen of the 18 new Buffs played at Power Five schools last fall.

And Coach Prime and his staff have attacked positions of need.

In the sixth episode of Deion Sanders’ documentary Coach Prime on Amazon Prime, when chatting with linebackers coach Andre’ Hart, Sanders was discussing what they needed to do to better the roster in 2024.

“You and everybody in the country know what we need to do,” Sanders said to Hart. “You know what the first order of business is.”

Hart quickly replied “O-line, D-line” which Sanders validated by saying “Thank you sir.”

Sanders continued discussing what position groups they needed to prioritize, citing Hart’s position group of linebackers which Hart’ seemed thrilled with. However, Sanders did reveal that they were changing their point of attack in the portal this time around, as he revealed they will be going after players who are starters at the previous stop.

“But you know what,” said Sanders. “This year, we’re going after all starters. Like started. They’ve gotta have been starters.”

With the Transfer Portal closed for now, and the spring semester about to begin, the Colorado roster for spring is largely in place. There will be additions and subtractions in April, but it’s not a stretch to say that 80-90% of the players who will take the field for Coach Prime this fall are now in the fold.

And, while the Transfer Portal ins and outs this offseason has been quiet when compared to the unprecedented overhaul of the roster from last season, the trades have been a net gain.

— Only 11 players left, a relatively low number considering how little stability there was in the roster year over year, and the loss of half of the coaching staff;

— One four-star player lost … but six gained;

— Nine of the 18 new players being offensive and defensive linemen, the areas of greatest need in the lineup.

Colorado, with either the nation’s No. 1 (Rivals) or No. 2 (247 Sports) transfer ranking, it has been a very successful month in bringing in new players.

But it’s also worthy of note that CU and Coach Prime had a very successful month in retaining talent.

Such are the ins and outs of the Transfer Portal.


9 Replies to “Transfer Portal Ins and Outs”

  1. You brought up Davis Weeb QB , went from TX to CO only for a fly by , ended up at UC and is now back in Colorado as the Broncos QB Coach .

    1. Eureka
      and the results speak for themselves
      The Broncos will never have a QB
      Tad will never get rid of the turnovers
      Where is Jordan Webb? Selling cars in Wichita?

  2. I realize the coach is the only real time source for team “rankings” or depth chart but 24/7’s .92 for Ham seems to create a paradox of sorts. Sanders praised Ham in preseason. Did he rank Bentley, Kennedy and Mitchell higher? so here is a question for coach and 24/7. Why did Buffs suck so bad stopping the run? Was it the D line playing like statues instead? or both?
    I guess I am trying to decide why Ham decided to leave. Of course it would be interesting for the fans to hear why anyone leaves even though its apparent why some of the O linemen and Hankerson left.
    I’m sure the O and C coordinators have some impact. I havent heard whether or not Shurmur is on solid ground coming back next year. Last thing I saw was “probably.” Any rumors on a new DC?
    Its been my opinion the DC (and the players) has a harder job than the OC, unless the OC is a complete bird brain. The O comes to the line knowing exactly what they are supposed to do and the D has to react.

  3. I think that we will have to judge/evaluate CP’s recruiting philosophy on a “with Sheduer/Travis” and “after Sheduer/Travis’. CP is trying to get a team in place to take advantage of 2 generational type talents to go along with top notch skill players. Recruiting a bunch of freshmen o linemen is not going to cut it, nor did the G5 type guys he brought in last year combined with the pre-CP leftovers. But he is also not going follow the traditional path either. CP is a disruptor and innovator and will always be ahead of the curve.

    Now if the men’s b-ball team can get healthy so we can have the run to March Madness while Spring camp is going on.

  4. A five star freshmen can be a future leader who may play his first year and can grow as a player and a leader and become a major piece of the foundation. A transfer will fill a need this year and help the team to compete this year.

    Non grad transfers use to have to sit a year, now that’s changed and coaches are taking advantage of the opportunity to improve today. Prime restocked the team with better players and improved by about 22 points per game, now he’s fortifying with starters from power conferences to close about a 6 point gap.

    If the upgrades on the line can keep Shedeur upright AND get a run game going, what can a QB with his stats do next year?

    Despite being sacked more than any other QB, his TO to TD ratio is really good… Great actually. If he can complete more passes and and get more first downs than last season those 6 points goes away pretty fast.

    Alex is probably right, as Prime wins, why wouldn’t more blue chip high school players want to come on board? Next year’s high school class could double and still be considered small, that’s the results of free agency… err transfer portal.

  5. This is a great story. There were also 4-5 guys were walk-ons, who departed. The lack of attrition in the portal is a real testament to Prime and his staff, past and present. IMO, it shows a cohesion in the locker-room. I live in EB county, and a friend that lives in the City mentioned it was amazing how you see these teammates in their off-time spend time together almost always in huge groups.

    I think he/his staff are honest with the players. When they bring in a player, they treat him as an investment and responsibility. Also, they put high expectations on him too. When something does not work out, like Smoke did not get many carries– Prime acknowledged it and Smoke’s potential and hard work. Also, they played a ton of players last year with the young players seeing the field. The Bishop Thomas situation, shows me that Prime is not pushing guys out, as they go through struggles.

    SL tenure appears rocky, but he landed on his feet, and there was not an exit players. We lost other coaches too, again not many defections.

    There will be more entering in the Spring portal, and that will be based on the projected depth chart. However those guys all get the shot from CU’s last game to the Spring game to compete for their spot in the depth chart and on the roster. Talent-wise the overall roster probably ranked somewhere in the 90’s when he arrived, then went into about the top-50-60 last season, with just 4 wins. We really improved at many positions, and are filling holes for others. Maybe this continued roster build, put them in the Top-30 roster wise. That is exciting. Feels like a team on the upswing for sure.

  6. It seems pretty obvious CP prefers playing juniors and seniors with experience while sprinkling in the youngsters. Look for high school recruiting numbers to gradually increase, eventually providing the foundation, and transfers plugged into spots off immediate need…just my opinion.

    1. “It seems pretty obvious”… “Just my opinion”.

      I’d say you’re “pretty obvious… opinion” is spot on.

  7. What I find exciting will be how the additions to positions of need help elevate the offense – from competive and showing flashes to dangerous and potent. Coupled with an improved D, could be a fun season.
    **Ever think of selling some merch Stuart ? ($ for website or NIL etc)
    Thanks for everything, my morning coffee always better when checking today’s poll question !

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