Shift in thinking: Recruiting and the Transfer Portal

Since the transfer portal has come to the forefront of College Football I feel we may want to consider adopting a new strategy where we put more of an emphases on signing 4/5 star recruits that do not crack the starting lineup at the blue chip programs to offset the average recruiting classes we have had these past couple of years.

This strategy would be comparable to signing free agents vs building through the draft in pro sports. But if we were to be able to have a balanced approach of signing recruits and players through the portal it might be best for our program.

Ricky Slade is a perfect example of a player we were unable to sign out of High School when he was a 5 Star Recruit from NOVA. He entered the transfer portal this season and ultimately went to ODU. I understand we have underclassmen RBs we are very high on and we just brought in a couple of Juco RBs that fit the same strategy of signing Ricky Slade.

What are your thoughts on placing more of an emphasis on the transfer portal in addition to high school recruiting?

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He'll, it wouldnt hurt using this strategy. Maybe we are more successful getting the blue chips the second time around

I think this has been one of Coach Fuente's stronger areas of success. Certainly not perfect, but his staff has targeted and acquired a number of good players through non-traditional (high school commits) sources. I am looking forward to seeing several of those players starting for the good guys this season.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

So did we pursue Slade from the portal at all? Or did he go to ODU because the HC there came from PSU?

It was mentioned in another thread that Slade's family contacted VT but did not get any interest from the good guys. It was hinted that there is some negative history regarding social media posts or other comments by Slade dating back to his recruitment.

Edit: You have to assume that PSU has put out a negative word on Slade if a former 5-star recruit can do nothing better than ODU in the transfer market.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

Thanks, buddy!

That's a false assumption. Recruits transfer for all reasons and just because you want to transfer doesn't mean your soon-to-be former coach is going to bad mouth you. That's how you burn long term bridges.

You're right but if any coach is going to do something stupid like that it's James Franklin

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Friend of mine's son played for Franklin at Vandy. Cannot day enough bad things about him. Says he's a vile human and snake oil salesman. This is coming from a punter!

We put the K in Kwality

Just that the fact that ODU was the best he could do is telling. It could be inferred (maybe incorrectly) that PSU had less than glowing reviews, but admittedly he maybe wanted to follow Rahne, it's close to home, etc etc

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Or maybe...just's simply a reflection of how he's currently perceived by coaching staffs 2 years removed from high school.


You have to assume that PSU has put out a negative word on Slade if a former 5-star recruit

I would have to assume his film (there are over 100 plays) at PSU isn't doing him any favors; and having to sit a year probably doesn't help.

I dont think a coach can officially recruit a transfer until after the name is in the portal. So, while the strategy may be effective, the coaches can't go on the offensive to draw those players away from the school (officially).

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

This would be comparable to recruiting someone who already committed to a different school. There really isn't a penalty for doing this.

Yes there is. Tampering is illegal in college athletics. Coaches can only contact a player enrolled at a different school once they are in the portal

Thank you LAhokie for the clarification...what are your thoughts on a strategy geared more toward the portal and less of HS recruiting?

It's risky and shouldn't be relied upon imo. There are only a few game changers at each position in the portal every year. Say we have a big need for a corner and assume we can fill it through the portal but, there are only 3 corner prospects out there who are better than what we currently have. If we miss on them all then we are screwed.

With that said, it's a great way to supplement your roster, and I think this staff has done a great job at using the portal to their benefit. We should continue to place an emphasis on it, but I don't think shifting our focus away from the prep ranks is a good way to build a consistently successful program

Depending on future changes to transfer policy: Every player has one free transfer without having to sit out, every player can transfer as many times as they please without having to sit out, every transfer can get a guaranteed waiver to not sit out if it fits into one of a few clearly defined criteria (coach change, family issue, etc).

This isn't going to be a strategy VT can take advantage of, it's going to become a requirement if you want to stay afloat. In any of those three scenarios we will be losing players more frequently (like just about everyone else under these circumstances). At that point effectively recruiting the portal will become a regular part of every offseason, and not necessarily a market inefficiency to exploit, but a requirement more in the vein of how recruiting high school kids is a requirement every year. Perhaps elite teams won't have to do it as much, but I imagine it will be critical to teams of our tier.

And this is exactly why we need to be the first school to truly implement a portal recruiting philosophy. Any player who enters the portal (that fits our scheme) needs to know VT is the place to go.

This is essentially what Lovie Smith is trying to do at Illinois. It's been a mixed bag so far.

Just ask starting Fighting Illini QB Dwayne Lawson!

Wait, Dwayne Lawson transferred?

“But do kind of enjoy reading this thread, it's really nice because Auburn can't swoop in and take our juicy ripe tomatoes.” ~ lewiswb

Looks like he is a WR for Missouri Southern State University now. He's changed schools more than Mister Rogers changed his sneakers.

He is still on the roster, but his eligibility should have expired, I believe.

VT - 2015 season
GCCC - 2016, 2017
Redshirt - 2018
MSSU - 2019

Wait, what?

Probably drawing Social Security.

US Navy Vet

Drew Harris just signed up for Medicare.

I hear your idea and outside of obvious things you cannot do - aka tampering - there is clearly an opportunity.

In one sense you could make a legit argument that VT's transfer portal wins vs losses is a pretty sizeable net positive. Additionally, I think there is more to win there as coaches determine how to sell your school's story.

Here is my point - VT may never outshine the bigger blue blood schools for HS recruits due to money, facilities, willingness to flirt with trouble, tradition etc. We need to win our share, but face it VT is an underdog in most situations for blue chip players.

However, barring scenarios where kids have character issues and/or were overrated out of HS and have been passed by talent-wise (just bc a RB was once a 4 star player doesn't mean he is currently a 4 star talent after 2 years at PSU - just saying). VT has a chance to correctly sell the I told you that we will take care of you and give you every opportunity to succeed vs being one of many in a bigger pond. Again, VT has done a nice job in selling that to kids like Braxton or Justus Reed.

I do think VT can possibly find a way to work the numbers to do more of that, but it is risky and complex since you don't know who, what and when the right kids will be available.

I was talking about this with a friend last week. He is an Oklahoma State fan and grad. You probably don't need to go all in like Miami has and you sure don't need to do it if you are a Bama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson type. But with the way it is now and if I was coaching the Hokies or OK State - I know I'd probably have to think long and hard about just sorta keeping a few scholarships on the side after signing day. Just to take advantage of the transfer market to add depth or find a starter at a position of need.

I know I'd probably have to think long and hard about just sorta keeping a few scholarships on the side

Fuente has talked about it before; I think they've held spots open at least the last 2 years.

I feel like Fu is playing this game too, maybe I wasn't clear but I wasn't critiquing the staff on that. I think personally think they have knocked it out of the park on the transfer game. I know the staff also has to balance out who they think might transfer out too for scholarships leftover. It's a tough game with a lot of variables.

I just happened to notice another team that is seemingly thriving in the transfer market that isn't being talked about much - Florida.
This year they have a haul including 3 former 5 stars - Brenton Cox, Lorenzo Lingard and Justin Shorter.

Are we not already doing this?? There aren't enough players in the portal to make that the primary effort but we have brought in good players every year through the portal. Can't wait to see Justus Reed this year. It will he love to see a dominant DE again. Even though he's coming from younstown state he was recruited and played for UF.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

I'm REALLY excited about Reed this year. And Hoffman. And Herbert. And hopefully Blackshear!

Not exactly the same, but Snyder and KSU made their name off JUCO talent, the problem is the ebb and flow of the strategy can be really dramatic. Should certainly be part of the strategy, but there needs to be a solid foundation.


You really have to look at SMU if you want to see the start of a model for this. They had 30 transfers last season and had a great year.

I think there is a short window to time everything right to make this work well for a school log term. I think you really have to target the right player/school combo. KU2VT is a great sell because you get to be on a better team. Same with Rutgers. Keeping a 9+ win team is important and showing the use of the transfers is important. Getting proven players from less than stellar programs is how to excel for a VT level program. I do think that if the defensive staff really shows up in the next season or so we might have a chance to really shine selling xfers dline like Reed on the NFL.

Max Olson wrote a great piece for The Athletic in June 2018 about Charlie Weis's attempt to build a team off of transfers and JUCOs backfired and completely fucked Kansas. Remember - You can take a max of 25 scholarship players each year, and you can have 85 scholarships on your roster at any time. Also consider that transfers only have 1-3 years of eligibility remaining. Beyond that, remember that between 1/3 and 1/2 of any given recruiting class are typically non-contributors. Charlie Weiss didn't do this math. When Beaty was hired in 2015, there were only 38(!!!) scholarship players on the roster. Now obviously, there were other reasons why kids the number of scholarships was so low; missed evals, missed targets, poor culture leading to transfers, etc, but the point remains: If you get to the point where transfers either leave at a rate faster than you develop freshman, or they don't pan out, you're gonna turn into Kansas.

Beyond that, there's other issues with the transfer market in general:

  • The overall quality is tough to predict year to year. May be a ton of talent/players who fit your scheme this year, but might not be the case next year
  • You don't often see top end talent in the transfer portal. Ricky Slade was a 5 star back. I'm not sure he still is.
  • You have less time to build relationships with players, which again leads to unpredictability.

Transfers are like band aids that cover holes created by missed evaluations, missed targets, injuries, etc. But if you need a ton of bandages, there's probably a bigger issue.

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But if you need a ton of bandages, there's probably a bigger issue.

I agree.

But I also see no need to sign a player that doesn't have the specs to be very successful down the road in your system, even if they aren't highly ranked right now. And I think we're also seeing that in our current recruiting.

Though that was Charlie Weis, Bill Snyder made a career of heavily recruiting Juco players. So it can work, but well Bill Snyder is a class act and a great coach so tough to mimic.

But your point is still valid you cant just build a team off xfers and JUCOs

There's also a ton of junior colleges in the state of Kansas, and Snyder was well connected with them. Most states don't have that large of a pool in state.

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Ricky Slade can suck a nut. Unless I've misunderstood he played a big part in negatively recruiting guys and making sure we missed on Ford

I think it is a slippery slope with VT and that strategy. Sure, us as fans would love to see our roster filled with former 4 and 5 star players. But if we start taking all the ones we initially missed on, it will create the idea that VT is indeed a fall back option for recruits. They could look at it as "Why not take a chance at winning a starting job at Clemson or Ohio State? If it doesn't work out, I can always transfer back home to Tech." I think it would make it even a tougher sell than it currently is to get blue chip recruits to VT out of HS.

"These people are losing their minds" - Mike Patrick

Not to mention that a 4 or 5 star player not cracking into the rotation could very well not be playing up to the star ranking. Obviously, this isn't a blanket generality, but could definitely be true.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"