Transfer portal. Two words you may be sick of hearing if you’re a college football fan. Ever since its October 2018 debut, NCAA student-athletes have entered the portal in droves. But with the addition of the ‘one-time transfer’ and ‘NIL (name, image & likeness)’ rules last year, the current transfer cycle has been the busiest yet. Per this February 1 article by The Athletic’s Max Olson, the number of FBS scholarship players transferring this cycle is up over 30 percent compared to this time last year. Colorado’s football program has been hit especially hard. In the 2021 transfer cycle, 13 scholarship players entered the portal. Compare that to 2022, the Buffaloes have already had 22 scholarship players enter the portal since August 1st, the most among power five programs.
“Anytime you lose players that leave your program, you’re not excited about why those decisions have been made, but that’s part of the world that we’re in now in terms of recruiting and NIL and the transfer portal,” Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell said Wednesday. “That’s just a new process that we’re all dealing with across the country at every program.”
Here’s a full list of all 22 Buffaloes players that have entered the portal to date and where they will be playing this fall:
NAME POSITION NEW SCHOOL
Lloyd Murray Jr. DL Sam Houston State
Blayne Toll DL Arkansas State
Steele Dubar LB TBD
Ashaad Clayton RB Tulane
La’Vontae Shenault WR Alabama State
Keith Miller WR Texas A&M Commerce
Zephaniah Maea LB TBD
Trustin Oliver S Central Arkansas
Chris Carpenter WR UTSA
Jayden Simon DL Tulsa
Alec Pell LB Northern Colorado
Christian Gonzalez CB Oregon
Mark Perry S TCU
Brenden Rice WR USC
Mekhi Blackmon CB USC
Joe Davis RB TBD
Kanan Ray OL TBD
Jarek Broussard RB Michigan State
Josh Watts P TBD
Chris Miller CB TBD
Chance Lytle OT TBD
Dimitri Stanley WR TBD
While the number of Buffaloes entering the portal this cycle is scary, it’s not the number that matters but rather the impact these departures could have on the program. Of the 22 players listed above, 17 saw the field last fall but only six (Gonzalez, Perry, Rice, Blackmon, Broussard, and Stanley) received any significant playing time.
Broussard led the Buffaloes with 611 rushing yards last season, while Rice and Stanley were two of the teams’ top wide receivers. All three however were key contributors on an offense that averaged a mere 257.4 yards per game, second to last among FBS teams. Maybe a shakeup on offense is just what the Buffaloes need. Enter Ramon Jefferson and R.J. Sneed, additions via the transfer portal joining the Buffaloes this fall. Jefferson rushed for 1,155 yards last season with Sam Houston State, which ranked 5th among FCS running backs. Sneed (46 rec, 573 yards, 2 TD) was the number two receiver on a Baylor Bears team that defeated Oklahoma State to capture the Big XII and knocked off Ole Miss to win the AllState Sugar Bowl.
One could argue the bigger impact from this transfer cycle’s departures can be seen in the Buffaloes defensive backfield. Losing Gonzalez, Perry and Blackmon leaves the team with a rather inexperienced secondary. The trio combined for 160 total tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes defended last season. The good news? Strong safety Isaiah Lewis, who led the team with 68 tackles in 2021 is back. Colorado also signed six three-star defensive backfield recruits as part of their incoming class and added junior college transfer Jeremy Mack, a safety who had 40 tackles and four interceptions in 10 games for East Mississippi Community College last fall. Colorado also added cornerbacks coach Rod Chance, one of six new assistants Dorrell brought in this offseason.
“Rod comes to us as a coach that can develop our corners and impact our defense right away,” Dorrell said in a press release following Chance’s hire. “He is known as a developer, a strong recruiter and has the defensive knowledge to help our secondary improve and play at a high level.”
Make no mistake, this year’s transfer portal is overflowing and it’s still early in the process. Who knows, maybe we’ve reached a point where this cycle will finally start to slow down? Only time will tell. In the meantime, don’t be frustrated (yet) by the large number of Colorado Buffaloes entering the portal. Dorrell and company have a chance to blending talent from the transfer portal and the recruiting trail to offset these losses. And there may be more to come.