Last week, the first of two NCAA transfer Portal windows closed to new entries, although the glut of football players who entered the Portal remained free to choose a destination on their own timeline.
Destination, Alabama? Don’t count on it.
Not based on what Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has said about what he wants to achieve in recruiting the portal. And not with the paucity of top transfers who haven’t already committed to a new school. That doesn’t mean we won’t see Alabama pick up a player or two in the coming weeks, but the likelihood of a big-splash addition has all but passed.
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First consider Saban’s modus operandi when it comes to the portal, which is to be selective. It’s an exercise in cherry-picking, from Jameson Williams to Henry To’o To’o, from Jahmyr Gibbs to Tyler Steen. He’s open to add difference makers that fit a specific need, but he’s clearly not compelled to use the Portal to backfill his roster with Replacements for all the transfers he loses. That’s plain enough from the numbers: two additions and 15 subtractions so far this year. Alabama’s transfer numbers were similarly lopsided last year, and the year before, when the NCAA began granting immediate eligibility to transfers.
Then there are these numbers: of the top 50 transfers in the country, 49 have already committed to their new schools, according to on3.com. Of the top 100, only two remain undecided; of the top 200, there are just six still on the market. Minds get made up very quickly in the Portal game, and Alabama plays at its own pace.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. The worst thing a Coach can do to a Locker room is to fill it with unhappy players, and bringing in transfers who suddenly realize they won’t play any more at their new school than the one they left behind is a pretty good recipe for discord . That’s apparently less of a concern at Ole Miss, where Coach Lane Kiffin has brought in 13 transfers, and 30 over the last two years. LSU Coach Brian Kelly has added 11 after his first season. The Portal is college football’s version of free agency, and with NIL money undoubtedly having a say in where players land, borrowing that term from the NFL seems all the more appropriate.
For now, former Maryland tight end CJ Dippre and former Georgia linebacker Trezmen Marshall represent Alabama’s Portal haul, and Saban wouldn’t have brought them under his tent without having confidence they can contribute. Dippre will compete with less experienced tight ends for the role Cam Latu is vacating, while Marshall brings a veteran special teams presence and will join an inside linebacker room that’s losing two starters in To’o To’o and Jaylen Moody. But if the Crimson Tide is to land another big-name transfer who can step in and start, it will likely have to come from the second Portal window, which will be open from April 15-30.
This one, where Alabama is concerned, should be considered all but closed.
Reach Chase Goodbread at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.