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Has an arrival of the NCAA transfer portal surpassed National Signing Day success?

Kiffin keeping up with the Jones’.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Baylor v Ole Miss Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

College football has entered a new era, for better or worse.

With the insanity of the transfer portal and the introduction of NIL, the landscape of the NCAA is being changed like the landscape of a mountainside during an avalanche.

This was from our very own head coach Lane Kiffin at a press conference on December 13th. From what I can tell, he wasn’t complaining, because all he has done is dominate NCAA free agency.

Gone are the days, at least for now under Kiffin, where Rebel fans need to panic when ESPN and other recruiting sites have Ole Miss as the 10th or worse ranked high school recruiting class in the conference. Because now, with Kiffin at the helm, Oxford is an attractive destination for those players at other school looking for a fresh start.

That fresh start may be because a player got buried on the depth chart and wants to play. Coaching changes at other schools (USC) lead players to explore other options. Some schools fail to deliver on promises to players, breaking trust and causing the player to leave, mentioned by Kiffin in that Dec. 13th press conference, “We’re not going to sit here and make promises that you’re going to make this much money because once they’re signed, they’re not getting the money. We’re kind of staying out of that world that other people are going into.”

However the Rebels staff is convincing these players to come to Oxford is working. They have plugged most of the holes we were all worried about heading into next season. Check out the incoming players:

Zach Evans

5-star RB from TCU, composite .9925

Jaxson Dart

5-star QB from USC, composite .9694, gained a star from high school

Michael Trigg

4-star TE from USC, composite .9402

Ladarius Tennison

4-star S from Auburn, composite .9284

J.J. Pegues

4-star DL/TE from Auburn, composite .9162

Jared Ivey

4-star EDGE from Georgia Tech, composite .8943, 6-foot-6 monster

Troy Brown

4-star LB from Central Michigan, gained a star from high school

Mason Brooks

4-star OL from Western Kentucky, gained a star from high school

Isheem Young

3-star S from Iowa State, Second Team All-Big 12

Jordan Watkins

3-star WR from Louisville


The year that Hugh Freeze brought in the class of Nkemdiche, Treadwell and Tunsil, I skipped class and laid in bed watching all of the signing day madness. The quality of high school recruits brought in by programs mattered significantly with the random appearance of a transfer who would sit out a year here and there.

Now with early signing day and the transfer portal, NSD has lost some of its luster. It does not have the appeal it once had. Sure, snagging the top high school recruits is a priority, but when you are a program like Ole Miss who may never have the ability to be a perennial top 10 class, winning Free Agency is a beautiful plan 2A.

Lurking in the shadows of the failed promises made by coaches or waiting in the hall of the buried-on-the-depth-chart gems can be just as effective. Imagine snagging a player or two that learned from Saban for a year or two but realized he was never going to see the field. Poaching talent off of the blue chip programs and plucking the top players from Group of 5 schools may be a risky strategy, but when it works out, you have an immediate retooling of a program.

Lane Kiffin has replenished the cupboard with 10 players who will have an immediate impact on both sides of the ball, to accompany whatever the high school class brings in as well as the transfers who might come over mid-spring or summer.

Sure, there may need to be a FIFA like transfer window, but when things are the way they are, you take advantage and don’t apologize.