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Inside the numbers: Deciding to transfer

Out of 174 five-stars during that time frame, 29 transferred to another NCAA program before their college career ended. And of those 29, just seven were drafted. Compare that to 60 percent of the five-star prospects who were drafted after staying with the school they signed with. The perception that changing schools will improve your odds of achieving NFL dreams may be unfounded.
The backstories on some of those transfers have to be considered. Ryan Perrilloux and Janzen Jackson, for example, were dismissed from the schools they originally signed with for a violation of team rules and ultimately transferred to FCS schools. Chris Martin, a defensive end in the 2010 class out of Colorado, was arrested for aggravated robbery before he was able to play a down at Kansas -- the fourth college he attended after signing with California out of high school.
Still, the majority of those prospects who transferred did so on their own accord. One of the more cautionary tales is that of Mitch Mustain, part of a celebrated 2006 quarterback class that also featured five-stars Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow.
Both Stafford and Tebow would go on to extraordinary college success and become first round draft picks, but Mustain would transfer to USC after starting eight games as a freshman for Arkansas. At USC, Mustain backed up Mark Sanchez and then Matt Barkley, never starting another college game. He tried catching on with the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League. He even signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox and tried to catch on in professional baseball as a pitcher. He now works for Huddle Pass as a USC football analyst.
Percent of five-star quarterbacks from 2005-2010 who transferred and were still drafted
Cam Newton
Despite the example of Mustain, quarterback is the one position that transferring may not decrease your odds of hearing your name called by the NFL commissioner. Six of the 29 transfers in our sample period were quarterbacks, and three of those were still drafted, including Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner for Auburn who started his collegiate career with Florida.
The other two were Ryan Mallett, who signed with Michigan but transferred to Arkansas after a coaching change in Ann Arbor, and Garrett Gilbert, a Texas signee in the 2009 class who finished his career with SMU. Mallett was a third round pick in the 2011 draft and currently plays for the Texans. Gilbert was a sixth round pick in 2014 and is now on the Raiders' practice squad.
Five-star wide receivers from 2005-2010 who transferred and were drafted
The position where transferring may be the least advisable based on this sample is wide receiver. Five five-star wide receivers transferred from their original schools, and not one was selected in the NFL Draft and none are currently on active NFL rosters.
The group includes Kyle Prater, the No. 3 ranked prospect in the 2010 class, and Fred Rouse, the No. 6 ranked prospect in the 2005 class. Rouse is another cautionary tale. One of the most talented receiver prospects to come out of high school this century, Rouse was dismissed from Florida State for failing drug tests, transferred to UTEP and ultimately spent time in jail. Prater, meanwhile, dealt with injuries and never realized his potential at USC, transferring closer to his Chicago home and landing with Northwestern, where he found only moderate success. He was cut by the New Orleans Saints last month after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent.
Five-stars prospects in the 2016 class who are committed
Marlon Davidson
Going as far back as quarterback Jacob Eason's commitment to Georgia in July, 2014, to as recently as defensive end Marlon Davidson's commitment to Auburn earlier this month, just over 40 percent of the 23 five-stars in the class are off the board. However, compared with four-star prospects and three-star prospects, which both check in at a 65 percent commitment rate, that is a significantly lower percentage.
Five-stars tend to wait longer to make their decisions than lower-rated prospects for one primary reason: because they can. Very few schools are going to put a timetable on a five-star caliber recruit and he will have his pick of schools right up until National Signing Day.
Five-stars from the 2017 class who have already made commitments
Considering there are still 18 months before class of 2017 prospects can sign letters of intent, and there are only 15 prospects awarded five-stars in the 2017 class, this is a pretty substantial number. The list includes Miamisburg, Ohio offensive tackle Josh Myers (Ohio State), Brownsburg, Ind., quarterback Hunter Johnson (Tennessee), Antioch, Calif., running back Najee Harris (Alabama) and Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips offensive tackle Calvin Ashley (Auburn), each of whom ranks in the top 9 in the class.
Of note, five of the nine highest ranked four-star prospects in the 2017 class -- those closest to five-star status -- have also committed. Comparing apples to apples, 11 of the top 24 ranked prospects in the 2016 class have made commitments while 9 of the top 24 in the 2017 class have made commitments. Despite being a year apart, those two ratios are awfully close. The class of 2017 definitely appears to be rendering commitments earlier than the 2016 class did.
Josh Helmholdt
Midwest Recruiting Analyst
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