Lunsford offers thoughts on NCAA Transfer Portal

McClain Baxley

NEW ORLEANSGeorgia Southern head football coach Chad Lunsford answered questions at Sun Belt Media Day Monday about a subject that nearly every coach across the country has been asked at media days the past two weeks — the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Since its debut in October 2018, the NCAA Transfer Portal has risen in popularity and convenience to recruit NCAA football players, competing with the more conventional high school recruitment. 

After the NCAA changed its transfer policy, going from the coaches having to allow the player to transfer to just the player informing the program, teams began to see a spike in players testing the waters to find a new home. 

From high-profile players like former Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts leaving for Oklahoma to third string linemen transferring to smaller schools for more playing time, athletes across Division 1 have joined new programs, looking for success.

Some coaches have negative views of the portal, while others like Lunsford welcome the new system. 

“I’m for student-athletes’ rights, and if that’s an option for them and it is built in and we’re making a way that makes it work for everybody, I’m all for it,” Lunsford said. “I’m all for guys if they’re not in a good situation or they’re in a situation that they need to change and it makes sense, I’m all for it.”

The Portal has successfully brought two players to GS, but both of them under different circumstances. 

Safety Donald Rutledge Jr. is a graduate transfer from Savannah State, where he had 53 total tackles and two interceptions for the Tigers in 2018. Rutledge announced his commitment to GS in early January and went through spring training is listed on the Eagles’ 2019 depth chart.

Running back J.D. King has a different situation. The former Oklahoma State running back announced via Twitter that he would be transferring from OSU in November and tweeted that he’d transfer to GS on Dec. 1.

Like Rutledge, King has gone through spring practices and the spring game, but his NCAA transfer waiver has yet to be approved, making him ineligible for the 2019 season.

It’s this uncertainty of who is eligible or not is one of the big concerns Lunsford has with the process. He’s hopeful the NCAA can make the transfer portal more consistent.

“I think the NCAA is doing a good job as far as trying to put a good plan in place I know this is a little bit bigger and we’re going to work through some different scenarios and things,” Lunsford said. “We’re going to try to move with the times and try to make sure we’re up to date with it.”

In January, two freshman wide receivers transferred from GS. Scoobie Ford, who was redshirted in 2018, transferred to Iowa Central Community College. Marcus Rogers, who had one reception against Texas State, transferred to Iowa Western Community College.

Deeper into the offseason, other players entered the portal on both sides of the ball. The only one who has found a new school is wide receiver Davarius Bargnare, who transferred to Campbell. 

“I’d like to see us go away from maybe guys that sit there and think, ‘I’m not getting my playing time here so I’m going to go here.’ I still think there’s something to earning what you get,” Lunsford said. “But again, it’s a part of college football now, and we’ve got to make sure we move with the times.”

Lunsford noted that he and the coaching staff would have to attack recruiting and running their rosters differently to keep up with the times. And unlike many of the nation’s coaches, he’s content with that. 

“We talk about do we want to look at the transfer portal, do we want to look at bringing guys in that are in the transfer portal,” Lunsford said. “But if we do that, we want to make sure we look at background and understand why they’re transferring.”

Ryan Kostensky contributed to this article.

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Editor-In-Chief, [email protected]