The Transfer Portal is one of the most polarizing developments in college football history.
While most fans are glad that college athletes are finally gaining some autonomy, many are also disturbed at the thinning of the line between college athletics and professional sports. The Transfer Portal might as well be a fancy way of saying “Free Agency,“ as players are switching schools and creating roster upheaval at a historic level. (Mr. FishDuck can usually be found over at NonGamStopBets.com for some fun at this time of year, but has expressed concern in how the portal is being used by all parties.)
Nevertheless, the infamous Portal, for better or worse, is here to stay. Oregon has already been a major player in the market, landing numerous impact players in this year’s cycle of transfers. But none of its additions drew more ire than Bo Nix.
The former Auburn quarterback has taken Tigers fan on a three-year rollercoaster ride, filled with plenty of jaw-dropping, highlight reel plays and almost as many head-scratching, hair-pulling screw ups. After a year of less-than-stellar play from another transfer quarterback, it’s easy to understand why many of the Oregon faithful weren’t jumping for joy when it was announced that Nix would be taking his talents to Eugene in 2022.
Nix does have his share of flaws, and in the end, he may well not work out in Eugene. That doesn’t mean the Oregon coaching staff messed up by adding an experienced, talented signal-caller to the roster. With the volatility of projecting quarterback recruits, it would negligent for a team not to look for proven quarterbacks in the Portal as a way to ensure that at worst, it has a solid backup option.
In Oregon’s case, Ty Thompson might end up being the next superstar quarterback in college football. But if he isn’t, there’s no harm in having a former five-star recruit and three-year SEC starter waiting in the bullpen.
It’s the Nature of the Business
One of the biggest concerns fans have when their team adds a transfer quarterback is the increased risk of the current quarterbacks on the roster transferring out as a result. Most quarterbacks expect to contend with future incoming recruits, but the prospect of also having to compete with an unexpected, likely more experienced player for the starting job isn’t very appealing. Surely teams that continuously add quarterbacks via the Portal will, in turn, lose a number of transfers, and suffer yearly roster turnover at quarterback.
All of this is likely true. No quarterback gets excited to see another competitor enter the locker room. And the addition of a transfer does typically result in a subsequent transfer from at least one existing quarterback, if not multiple.
But this is simply the way of the times. Backup or third-string quarterbacks are likely transfer candidates regardless of the addition of a veteran via the Portal. And those who were in contention to start before the addition of the transfer are perfectly capable of outperforming their counterparts and earning the job if they’re good enough. If they don’t, a coaching staff shouldn’t avoid adding a better player at the position simply to satisfy its apparently worse existing quarterback.
In the coming years, the Ducks will sign plenty of blue-chip quarterbacks. Many of them will transfer out shortly thereafter. That will happen whether or not Oregon adds transfers. That’s just the way college football works now. So, why not mitigate the inevitable attrition by adding a veteran who, at worst, will provide quality depth and experience to a quarterback room?
Recruiting Rankings Can’t Be Trusted
Modern recruiting rankings do a better job than ever at projecting high school players to the college level and beyond. Four- and five-star prospects are far more likely to be NFL players down the road, and they’re generally the better college players, too. But even with all of the advancements in recruiting and scouting, there’s still plenty of variance when it comes to projecting high school football players.
With so many players to scout and so many variables to consider, many blue-chip prospects still end up being busts in college. Likewise, numerous under-the-radar recruits blossom into stars once they reach the next level. Projecting quarterbacks is particularly tricky, and although four- and five-star quarterbacks are generally safer bets, they’re far from sure things.
For every Bryce Young and Trevor Lawrence, there’s a Hunter Johnson or Ryan Hilinski — highly rated players who haven’t panned out in college.
Top-rated recruits with elite physical and mental tools should be given every opportunity to earn the starting job while on campus. If they’re able to realize their gifts and utilize their tools, the addition of a transfer quarterback should in no way deter them from winning the job. But, for whatever reason, if a blue-chip quarterback just can’t put it all together, it’s prudent to have another serviceable option at the position.
In Oregon’s case, Thompson should, in no way, play second fiddle to Nix in spring ball or during fall camp. There should be a legitimate quarterback competition to determine which option realistically gives the Ducks the best chance to win.
Thompson’s high school scouting profile suggests that he has every tool needed to be an elite college quarterback, and if he is as good as his ranking suggests, then the addition of Nix shouldn’t ruffle the feathers of any Oregon fan, as he will win the job outright.
But if it turns out that Thompson isn’t quite the player the recruiting services thought he was, at least the Ducks have another passer to turn to, who should be able to keep the offense afloat.
The Transfer Portal is the new normal in college football. Oregon has shown it is willing to embrace this fact, and because of it, the Ducks seemingly have at least two viable quarterbacks entering the 2022 season. If Dan Lanning and his staff are wise, they will only continue to bolster their quarterback room by adding more transfers such as Nix in the future.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Top Photo From Twitter
Joshua is an adopted Duck fanatic, originally hailing from southwestern Pennsylvania. His love for the University of Oregon began as a young child when he became mesmerized by the flashy uniforms and explosive offenses of the Chip Kelly era, and now, he follows the team religiously. His fondest memory of the team is seeing De’Anthony Thomas race past Wisconsin defenders back in the 2012 Rose Bowl. A true football enthusiast, Joshua loves studying the intricacies of the game, and he aspires to become a professional sports journalist. Joshua now resides in Morgantown, West Virginia where he works in customer service. When he’s not watching Oregon replays, Joshua loves reading, writing, and spending time with his family. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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