BOONE — While transfer quarterback Chase Brice played a key role in the Appalachian State Mountaineers’ 2021 successes, head coach Shawn Clark said Brice cannot be the blueprint for the team moving forward.
“One thing I do not want to do as head football coach at App State is to live in the transfer portal,” Clark said. “You can get too much in the transfer portal. Saying that, the transfer portal is in place for a reason.”
Since debuting in October 2018, the NCAA’s transfer portal — which makes it easier for college football players to switch schools — has been a polarizing addition to the sport’s landscape. While the portal has allowed players like Brice and former Ohio State QB Justin Fields to easily find new homes, it has also been called “free agency” by Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin.
This offseason has seen big names such as Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and Ohio State’s Quinn Ewers move teams. The Mountaineers have already felt the portal’s effects when linebacker T.D. Roof headed to Oklahoma to join his father, Sooners defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
According to Rivals’ transfer portal tracker, more than 900 FBS scholarship players had entered the portal as of Dec. 28
The Mountaineers’ 2021 roster featured 13 players who started their college careers elsewhere — with many finding success in Boone.
Super senior wide out Corey Sutton leaves App in the program’s top 10 for receptions, yards and touchdowns despite starting his career at Kansas State. Madison Cone was a rock in the defensive backfield in 2021 after spending four years at Wisconsin.
Clark used Brice — who set the program’s single-season passing yards record — and Cone as examples of the good that the portal can bring.
“If we have needs that we have to go get, we’ll go get them in the transfer portal,” Clark said.
However, Clark noted that long-tenured, program stalwarts were a major part of App State football’s DNA, and building the team with a heavy emphasis on the portal does not give players that chance.
At the same time, players have until May 31 to decide whether they will enter the portal and leave, meaning the roster can fluctuate based on players’ decisions.
“We’d be sitting here right now, thinking we’re fine and then May 31 we have seven guys up in the transfer portal,” Clark said. “I think in today’s game — especially now — that you have to recruit your own players.”
In the conference, Clark said the team was not planning on dipping their toe back into the portal after picking up receiver Kaedin Robinson from Central Florida.
“As of 11:17 a.m. right now, we don’t plan on signing anymore from the portal,” Clark said. “For the spring, we’ll go through spring practice, see our needs — where we have to play at a championship level — and we’ll address those needs.”