New terminology has created what appears to true free agency in college football, the Transfer Portal. In the past, if a player under scholarship wanted to leave his scholastic institution, he would first go to his current coach and request a release. If granted, he was then free to talk with other schools and could be put on scholarship but would have to sit out a year. If a player was on scholarship, he was off limits to have discussions with other schools.
In 1983, mega-star running back Marcus Dupree was in his sophomore season at Oklahoma under head coach Barry Switzer, vanished four games into the season and reappeared a week later and announced he was transferring to the University of Southern Miss (he actually enrolled at the school in October of 1983 thinking he would be eligible for the 1984 season). The NCAA eventually ruled he would have to sit and additional year and not pay again in 1985. The rules were stacked against the player.
The transfer portal has changed everything. The athlete now does not need permission, they simply apply within the Portal and wait for their phone to ring, they can be contacted by any coach. The process used to favor the institution, but now it’s completely in the hands of the player. While big names have popped up, like Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields, the portal is made up mostly of solid football players looking for a better fit for their athletic careers.
The University of Southern California team has been one of the most active in terms of players making themselves available. After completing spring practices, back-up quarterback Matt Fink just made himself available. After the arrival of new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, it was announced the quarterback job was wide open, but as spring practiced winded down, JT Daniels was the favorite. Fink took the message and ended up in the portal looking for betting playing time options but left the door open for returns.
With that, Fink became the 12th Trojan to show up in the portal since the end of last season. The other eleven include –
1-Randal Grimes – With the exit of offensive coordinator Tee Martin at the end of the 2018 season, wide receiver Grimes was the first transfer casualty as he ended up as a Minnesota Gopher. He has great size at 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, but in two seasons, he only had two catches for 17 yards. The former high school quarterback must sit out a year before playing.
2- Josh Imatorbhebhe – In two seasons, Imatorbhebhe had two catches for 11 yards. While his brother, Daniel is still on the Trojan roster, the Georgia native from North Gwinnet High School has moved on but has yet to announce his destination.
3-Holden Thomas – The walk-on quarterback, who would be fifth on the spring depth chart is currently sidelined with an elbow injury and missed spring practice. He has not played in a game for the Trojans.
4-Trevon Sidney – The former 4-star has 10 catches for 139 yards in two seasons at Southern Cal. He has transferred to the University of Illinois and has immediate eligibility. He was ranked the 26th wide receiver in the country coming out of Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, California in 2015.
5-Bru McCoy – McCoy’s story is the most intriguing in that the 5-star had silently signed his national letter of intent and enrolled in January 2019 with the Trojans. After being on campus for only two weeks, he showed up on the portal and eventually left for Texas. Much of this had to do with the departure of Cliff Kingsbury to the NFL, but it hurts to lose such a big name before he gets a chance to show his talent.
6- Oluwole Betiku – Betiku was USC’s highest rated player in the class of 2016. The 6’3 240lb linebacker played in 14 games as a Trojan and recorded two tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. He got a late start into football after entering the US after his sophomore year of high school. He will join Sidney at Illinois.
7- Velus Jones Jr – The speedster Jones had a breakout season in 2018 with 24 catches for 266 yards and a TD. From Saraland, Alabama, Jones had deep ties to Tee Martin, who is now at Tennessee. Look for several SEC teams to make a pitch for him to return to the south.
8-Levi Jones – Jones was dismissed from the team in mid-November of 2018 by Head Coach Clay Helton because of an unspecified violation of team rules. The former four-star and #6 overall outside linebacker in the 2017 class is now playing for North Carolina State.
9-Bubba Bolden – Bolden was a four-star from Las Vegas who was also dismissed in 2018 for violating team rules. Rated the #7 safety prospect in the nation in 2017, he had the option to return to the Trojans but instead opted to get a clean start elsewhere, he is at Miami with three years of eligibility left.
10- Ykili Ross -Ross was involved in a verbal altercation with another Trojan during the fall camp in 2018. He was left off the 2018 roster in order to concentrate on graduating and pursuing a graduate transfer opportunity in 2019. The overall #7 cornerback in the 2015 class, he has not announced a landing spot.
11- Greg Johnson –Johnson is the one piece of good news, the most experienced cornerback on the roster added his name to the portal at the same time Jones did but removed it a week later. After discussing the matter with coaches and teammates, he is back.
Overall for a team coming off a 5-7 record and several coaching changes, this could be tough to swallow for the program. Their 2019 recruiting class finished 20th, their lowest mark in two decades. With one of the toughest schedules in the nation coming up, Coach Helton’s seat is the hottest in college football.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.