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Three-Point Stance: Transfer rule, top TEs, Pac-12 breakouts

Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with his thoughts on the pros and cons of the one-time transfer rule, the top five tight ends who have found new homes and five Pac-12 breakout players.


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Justin Fields is one of the high-profile players to transfer in recent years.
Justin Fields is one of the high-profile players to transfer in recent years. (AP Images)

By end of business Thursday the NCAA will finally announce its ruling on the one-time transfer rule that allows a college football player to leave one school for another, even in conference, without schools holding them to their National Letter of Intent or having them sit out a season. This has been in the works forever and the transfer portal has exploded as a result. But is this a good thing for college football and for players? There are pros and cons.

The pros: Ahhhh, freedom. Players no longer have to watch head and assistant coaches leave for other jobs without any punishment while they stay stuck in situations they don’t like while facing a year - or sometimes two years - of ineligibility for transferring. This was always extremely unfair to players who wanted a fresh start.

The other good thing? Coaches and colleges can’t block a player from transferring to a certain school. Anyone remember Horace Dodd? Likely not, but he was a highly recruited athlete out of Connecticut back in the late 1990s who went to Penn State. After he signed, he was moved to defensive back even though he was promised and recruited to play running back. After giving defense a try, Dodd decided he wanted to play running back and asked Joe Paterno permission to transfer 10 times. He was told that Paterno had to think about it. Finally Penn State said he could look at Syracuse, NC State and Maryland, but not Boston College, where Dodd wanted to play. Attorneys got involved and things got ugly, but he finally got his release for BC. And he STILL had to sit out a year before having a very uneventful career with the Eagles.

Those situations are gone forever now, unless a coach can prove a school tampered with a player on his roster. Players will no longer be punished for signing a piece of paper at 17 and held to that decision into their 20s.

The other upside this time for the colleges? They can now immediately fill roster spots with experienced college football players rather than leave gaping holes in their roster and wait for high school players to arrive with the hope they will pick things up immediately.

The cons: There are way too many here to list, so I’ll just hit the highlights. First off, and this has become glaringly obvious, the transfer portal will be overcrowded, and there won't be enough homes for the players. This is going to be a massive problem very soon and I don’t see anything from the NCAA that will help this.

This will also hurt high school recruiting in a big way as more scholarships will be held back for potential portal players and more high school players will be overlooked. And, of course this will make the rich richer in college football as the power programs will now be free to become home to some stars of the mid-majors. Safety Tykee Smith leaves West Virginia for Georgia and now has a bigger spotlight for the NFL and a chance to play for a national title.

More and more, players who became stars at the schools that took a chance on them out of high school will jump up to bigger programs after proving themselves. And what about academics? That’s something that has been completely forgotten in all of this as the main objective of forcing a player to sit out a year was to acclimate academically, believe it or not. Now players who enter the portal can often feel ostracized at their current school as everyone knows he’s on his way out and this can cause them to leave mid-semester or before they finish their current course load.

And finally, let’s be clear that this will be an opportunity for coaches to “process” players off the roster – otherwise known as run them off the team. With the portal as an apparent safety net and attractive option, coaches can encourage players to leave with zero downside. Get a new defensive coordinator? Have him take the players who don’t fit his system and walk them over to a computer to enter the portal to open scholarships for incoming transfers.

This is going to be messy, and likely very annoying to football fans everywhere, but there is always a price for freedom. Players get more freedom and the large majority will end up getting hurt by it in the end.



Grant Calcaterra
Grant Calcaterra (AP Images)

1. Grant Calcaterra, SMU After a medical retirement from Oklahoma, Calcaterra finds himself at SMU after an initial commitment to Auburn. Could we see the player who caught two touchdown passes in the Big 12 title game back in 2018, and one who showed much promise his first two years? Time will tell.

2. Jelani Woods, Virginia Woods has amazing size at 6-foot-7, but he didn’t have a productive career at Oklahoma State, with only four touchdowns. But he’s a red-zone danger at UVA.

3. Jalin Conyers, Arizona State Conyers is a 2020 prospect so he doesn’t have a college resume, but out of high school he was a reliable pass catcher who could also stretch the field.

4. Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Kansas State We know one thing: He’s athletic. That hasn’t helped him produce much at USC or Illinois, but the upside is there.

5. Jamal Pettigrew, McNeese State — He has the size and athleticism to make an impact at a lower level than LSU.



Greg Dulcich
Greg Dulcich (AP Images)

And finally, let’s continue the Power Five look at breakout players as we head to the Pac-12.

1. TE Greg Dulcich, UCLA As Dulcich got bigger he got better, and he just scratched the surface last season with 517 yards and five scores in a shortened season.

2. LB Justin Flowe, Oregon Flowe was one of the highest-rated linebackers in Rivals history in 2020, and he should rebound from a knee injury to dominate this season.

3. WR Bru McCoy, USC We have been waiting for McCoy to emerge for a while now, and with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns gone this will be the season.

4. LB Sav’ell Smalls, Washington Smalls was a huge recruiting win for Washington in 2020, and he should be an explosive regular in the lineup and a guy who gets after the passer.

5. RB Rachaad White, Arizona State Jayden Daniels gets much of the attention, but White rushed for more than 400 yards in four games last season and caught eight passes.