A lot of fans may think the transfer portal changed recruiting but that’s not really the case.
At first, the transfer portal just meant those players who wanted to transfer could announce its intentions and be recruited by other teams’ players. Those players who chose to transfer would likely still have to sit out a year (unless they were graduates or met specific but also very arbitrary conditions).
Sitting out for a year is a tough decision to make regardless if a player is a freshman, sophomore or junio. Even if players had a redshirt year remaining, they had to weigh the decision to transfer somewhere, sit out a year, and hope to be a starter after sitting out that season. Certainly, it happened, but things weren’t crazy.
Then the NCAA passed a regulation that any player in any sport could transfer once during its college careers and not have to sit out - that opened the floodgates. Now, there was no barrier to the transfer.
And so here we are. Literally thousands of players have entered the transfer portal this year. Thousands. Of. Players.
Some programs have decided not to pivot much and have still built almost exclusively through the high school ranks. Some are taking a few transfers but still focusing primarily on traditional recruiting.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is one of the programs clearly revamping its roster through the transfer portal.
Remember, the transfers who used to be able to move without sitting were one year plugs but that’s no longer the case. You don’t have to be a fifth year senior to transfer without penalty.
Certainly, a program cannot only build its program through the portal, but it’s not nearly as dangerous as it once was. So Ole Miss has already hosted a lot of players in the portal, and the Rebels will continue to do so.
Let’s take a look at just a few of those you should be paying attention to.
Dillon Gabriel | QB | UCF | JR
Ole Miss will definitely be taking a quarterback transfer. Entering next season with no competition for Luke Altmyer is not an option.
Dillon Gabriel could be at the top of this staff’s quarterback wish list, even though Jeff Lebby is no longer with the Rebels. As a true freshman under Lebby in 2019, Gabriel passed for 3,600 yards, 29 TDs, and 7 INTs. His sophomore season under Jeff Heupel was even better, as he threw for 3,400 yards, 32 TDs, and only 4 INTs on his way to a 78.0 QBR. This season, he suffered an injury after playing just four games and was able to take a redshirt. Gabriel would be a huge step towards maintaining program momentum.
Dillon Gabriel has a hose. My goodness. pic.twitter.com/yB3GtsylYy— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) September 19, 2020
Zach Evans | RB | TCU | JR
Evans is likely well known among many Ole Miss fans, as he almost chose the Rebels out of high school before ultimately inking with TCU. Fans may not have followed along with his career at TCU though.
All Evans has done since enrolling at TCU is average 7.3 yards per carry on 146 attempts. Yeah. He’s insanely explosive. Evans visited Oxford with Gabriel and is a prime target to transfer to the Rebels.
I would take Zach Evans over Bijan Robinson or Breece Hall 10/10 times. pic.twitter.com/ZjJ3r9KgR6— parker (@statsowar) September 13, 2021
Deion Smith | WR | LSU | SO
Deion Smith also nearly chose the Rebels out of high school a year ago but ultimately inked with LSU. The staff change, along with the allure of playing in Oxford, got Smith into the portal.
The On3 consensus No. 75 player in the country in the 2021 class is 6’3” 200 lbs. and used his body well in limited action at LSU. He would be a candidate to immediately step in and replace Braylon Sanders as a major target on the outside.
Terrence Cooks | LB | Texas | FR
Cooks was the No. 257 player in the 2021 class with offers from Bama, UGA, LSU, Oregon, A&M, Oklahoma, USC, etc. He redshirted this season at Texas and decided to transfer out.
Obviously, adding a player of this caliber at a major position of need would be an enormous pull. Cooks visited Ole Miss during the season and has not announced another visit.
Ladarius Tennison | S | Auburn | JR
Tennison was the No. 167 player in the 2020 class, choosing Auburn over UGA, Clemson, A&M, Florida, etc.
In his true freshman season at Auburn, he played in twelve games, starting one. Tennison finished his freshman season with 21 tackles. As a sophomore, he took a backseat as Derek Mason chose to play some of the transfers he flipped in his first offseason. He still started to games, finishing with 21 tackles once again. The Rebels lose a good bit in the secondary, and Tennison could find himself starting in the 3-2-6 for Ole Miss next season.
What other players do you think Ole Miss should focus on in the portal? Comment below or tweet @redcuprebellion with your recruiting and transfer takes.