football Edit

Relationships, development key to combat transfer portal at West Virginia

West Virginia Mountaineers football head coach Neal Brown plans to proactively attack potential transfers.
West Virginia Mountaineers football head coach Neal Brown plans to proactively attack potential transfers.

The transfer portal.

Yeah, I said it.

A phrase that has almost become “boogey-man” like across the landscape of college football. As it’s essentially became known as a mythical vortex that seemingly takes at will from college football rosters.

In reality, the portal is nothing more than a database that players can be entered into after notifying their compliance offices that they wish to pursue transfer options. It essentially streamlines the older method of meeting with a head coach and going through that song and dance.

But there is no denying that the introduction of the portal has made transferring a hot topic across the college landscape and that is no different at West Virginia as the Mountaineers have tangled with it a few times this season already with the surprising departures of Kenny Robinson and Derrek Pitts during the off-season to JoVanni Stewart even during the season in the first year under head coach Neal Brown.

Those totals will almost assuredly increase as well as natural attrition takes hold as recently tight end Jovani Haskins also entered his name into it.

“It’s not a West Virginia issue. It’s not even a division one football issue. It’s kind of the world we live in and everybody’s circumstances are different,” Brown said.

So what can you do to try to combat the transfer epidemic on each individual roster, especially in light of a hard-cap which allows schools to only add 25-players per class?

Well, there’s several approaches that Brown tries.

The first one seems obvious enough in that establishing relationships with players can only help.

“You just try to build relationships,” he said.

Some situations can’t be helped because players are always going to leave programs for a variety of reasons such as playing time or perhaps a personal matter, but to avoid any quick trigger decisions a good foundation between the coach and the players is a must. Otherwise each departure only makes things more difficult when it comes to the managing of a roster.

The one thing that is seemingly lost on many players that decide to enter the portal to pursue other opportunities, is that they too are under the 25-players per class cap. So essentially any player that a school adds as a transfer from the portal will count against that total figure.

That leads to schools questioning possible short term implications for a graduate transfer or only a few years left over long term ones with developing a high school prospect.

“If you take somebody out of the portal that counts as one of your 25,” Brown said. “Every transfer you take, that’s a high school or junior college prospect that you can’t take.”

So what else can a program do?

Well, outside of any possible changes to the rules – coaches also have the ability to turn to their walk-on program. By cultivating a successful walk-on program, schools can provide scholarships to those players that earn it through development over the years. It’s something that the Mountaineers are placing an emphasis on when it comes to the future under Brown.

“That’s really the only way you can get to your 85,” he said.

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