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Why the transfer portal shouldn’t be concern for Oklahoma State fans

Players transferring to other programs are seek additional playing time due to the Cowboys’ talent depth.

Oklahoma v Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Much has been made of the NCAA transfer portal in last two years. It has, in a way, taken on a life of its own, and been the subject of many Twitter memes. But for some reason, every time an Oklahoma State football player decides to enter the portal to play at another school, fans decided to have a meltdown on Twitter.

In a generation of immediacy and little patience, large amounts of transfers was an expected consequence of the 2018 NCAA rule change allowing players to redshirt while still playing any amount of time in up to four games.

The rules are for the better, and my “generation of immediacy and little patience” comment is a shot at nobody. The new redshirt rules have been beneficial for many.

OSU currently has 12 players in the transfer portal, including five who have already chosen their new school. The Cowboys have used the transfer portal to their benefit as well, bringing in two players who will have a chance to make big impacts in former West Virginia offensive guard Josh Sills and former Arkansas defensive end Collin Clay.

Losing 12 players to the transfer portal seems concerning. That’s a lot of depth going out, especially considering there are four wide receivers — and five if you count tight end Grayson Boomer, who decided to transfer. There are also four defensive backs transferring.

What I want to do here is compare the amount of transfers OSU is losing to other Big 12 schools in an attempt to try to temper the cause for concern.

Big 12 Transfers

School Name Number of Players Transferring Number of Incoming Transfers
School Name Number of Players Transferring Number of Incoming Transfers
Baylor 4 0
Iowa State 5 0
Kansas 5 0
Kansas State 6 1
Oklahoma 12 1
Oklahoma State 12 2
TCU 6 3
Texas 10 0
Texas Tech 5 2
West Virginia 9 1

Oklahoma and Texas are perennially the Big 12’s two best schools in recruiting. Each finished in the top 10 in the nation for the 2018 and 2019 recruiting cycles; Texas lowest finish in the four-year span from 2016-19 was 25th in 2017 while OU’s lowest finish was 19th in 2016, according to 247sports team rankings. Both finished first or second in the conference in recruiting each year.

OU ties OSU’s conference-leading 12 players currently in the portal, with Texas having the next most at 10. These numbers prove what we already know: OU and Texas bring in more highly-ranked talent than other Big 12 schools, and it’s not close.

When that happens, players will transfer because they won’t win starting jobs over the incumbent highly-ranked talent, or the incumbent’s get replaced by the incoming talent. While OSU is generally between fourth and sixth in Big 12 recruiting with national numbers falling between 35-45, it’s the same issue.

As mentioned above, five of OSU’s 12 in the transfer portal have already committed to new schools. Those schools are Tulsa (Grayson Boomer), Texas State (Jahmyl Jeter), Tulane (Kevin Henry), UTSA (JayVeon Cardwell) and Stephen F. Austin (Kris McCune). None of those programs come close to the level OSU plays at. Players aren’t looking to make lateral (or even close to lateral) moves away from OSU.

It’s different on a player-by-player case, but the common denominator is playing time. For younger guys, it is likely a Justin Fields situation. Fields was the top ranked quarterback in the class of 2018. He signed with Georgia, didn’t beat out Jake Fromm for the starting job, and decided to transfer after one season.

The difference here is even Fields made a lateral move in terms of program success from Georgia to Ohio State. With two more years of Kolby Harvell-Peel, Jarrick Bernard and Tanner McCalister in OSU’s secondary, it’s likely Player, McCune and Cardwell were passed on the depth chart by younger guys (word has been Thomas Harper is a strong candidate to replace A.J. Green at cornerback) leading to a mass exodus of secondary transfers from Stillwater. OSU also has five defensive backs committed in the class of 2020.

It’s the same deal with Jeter at running back. With another season of Chuba Hubbard, Jeter would be looking at backup snaps as a redshirt junior in 2021 as he sits behind redshirt freshman Deondrick Glass on the depth chart.

L.C. Greenwood, Patrick McKaufman and Tyrell Alexander all have one season of eligibility left and probably want a chance to be a starter for another program rather than be a potential backup who may or may not get snaps.

It’s more of the same for Henry, who would’ve seen snaps, but would rather play every snap for a program in his home state of Louisiana. Kevin Junior never saw the field at OSU to my knowledge, and injuries derailed the path of linebacker Blake Barron, who I was excited to see play.

That leaves two fairly puzzling transfers. Boomer would’ve had a chance to make an impact, but decided to transfer to Tulsa after missing all of 2019 with a knee injury. C.J. Moore decided to transfer as well; he figured to be a high-impact backup receiver in 2020 with a chance to start as a redshirt junior in 2021.

The high number of transfers is a result of players looking for chances elsewhere that they weren’t getting and probably wouldn’t have in the future at OSU. I can understand some questioning on Boomer and Moore, but it could very well be the same situation where they didn’t see a path to significant playing time.

If anything, it’s a reflection of a good recruiting job by OSU’s staff. Players are transferring because they can’t move up on the depth chart. Much has been made of the recruiting efforts during the last few years, but they haven’t struggled to recruit at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, and the defense has several standout players as well.

Say what you will, but I believe there is a reason OSU has the same number of transfer portal guys as OU and Texas.