RTI contributor Murphy Carlton is the author of this article
The NCAA transfer portal has been making headlines all offseason. It’s been the main topic of many debates among fans, coaches, and media members as we inch closer and closer to the 2019 college football season.
The transfer portal is allowing players to basically re-enter the recruiting process and see what other schools would be interested in gaining their services if they wish to transfer from their current school. While players used to transfer for reasons like being closer to home or pursuing their playing career at a better program, the transfer portal has now created a type of free agency for college athletes.
Tennessee’s SEC Media Days appearance was used to talk about what the Vols did this offseason and how they’re getting ready for the 2019 season. But the topic of the transfer portal was also brought up.
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt was asked about his thoughts on the transfer portal while at the podium on Tuesday. The Vols have had a handful of players enter the transfer portal this offseason, and they’ve also brought in two players as transfers, too.
Pruitt has a unique perspective when it comes to the transfer portal since he was a transfer player himself.
“Well, I have a unique view because I was a transfer myself,” Pruitt explained. “A lot of people say: Why did you transfer? I signed with Middle Tennessee. I played there for two years, was a starter. And I left, not because I was unhappy, just because I wanted to go fulfill a dream.”
As someone who made the decision to transfer himself, Pruitt knows exactly what it’s like being in that situation and ultimately making that tough decision. There are many reasons why a player may want to transfer, and Pruitt seems to understand that.
Some people make the point that players nowadays are just transferring for no reason, but Pruitt sees in it in a different way.
“You know, these guys have tough decisions in making decisions where they are going to go to college, and sometimes they may not get it right. And to me it’s about the mental wellness of the student-athlete,” Pruitt stated. “And I think everybody that’s involved is definitely sensitive and really considers that, and I think that’s one of the things that we have to put to the forefront when it comes to kids that want to transfer.
“We need to help them find their way.”
Pruitt has also had a lot of experience with players that he has coached wanting to transfer or bringing in transfers from other schools.
Aubrey Solomon and DeAngelo Gibbs benefited greatly from the transfer portal, which allowed them to find a school that would provide a fresh start and a better environment for them to play in. Solomon decided to leave Michigan to come to Knoxville, and Gibbs left Georgia to join Tennessee. Vol fans everywhere are still waiting to hear the verdict on whether or not Solomon and Gibbs will be eligible to play in the upcoming season, but the Vols stand to gain a lot from the addition of both.
On the flip side, Tennessee has had a number of players enter the transfer portal and leave UT’s roster this offseason, too. Offensive lineman Drew Richmond, defensive back Marquill Osborne, quarterback Will McBride, and linebacker Austin Smith are the notable departures via the transfer portal.
Pruitt chose not to comment on the rules regarding eligibility and the impending decision regarding his players’ eligibility, though.
“As far as the rules or whatnot, as far as eligibility, I don’t have enough information to really comment about that,” Pruitt admitted. “But, you know, as a guy that has transferred before myself, it worked out well for me.”
All in all, the transfer portal has definitely had its impact on the college football world and will continue to be a factor moving forward. How much effect will it have on the 2019 season? We’ll just have to wait and find out.