Not needing the portal is the ultimate luxury
Can the Huskers be picky in the transfer portal in 2024? Let's assess their needs.
Now that the sturm und drang around Sunday’s College Football Playoff selections has been replaced in the news cycle by the unlimited promise of the future—a magic portal that makes anything possible—I’m guessing Matt Rhule went and found the information he sought in the days before championship weekend.
He wanted to see how the rosters of the playoff teams were constructed with the transfer portal as an option. “Was it a massive overhaul, or was it kind of a lot of their own recruiting with some key additions? I think if you want to get to a certain spot, you should look at what those spots do.”
OK, here’s the tale of the tape:
1. Michigan* - 17th ranked transfer class by 247Sports, 9 additions
2. Washington - 46th, 10
3. Texas - 48th, 5
4. Alabama - 53rd, 5
The top four offer a compelling argument for quality over quantity. Michigan bolstered what was already going to be a daunting defense with former Husker linebacker Ernest Hausmann (3rd on the team in tackles), edge rusher Josiah Stewart (3rd in TFLs) and cornerback Josh Wallce (T-2nd in PBUs). Running back Dillon Johnson led Washington in rushing (1,113 yards) after infamously tweeting “…I am not very tough, and Leach is glad I’m leaving…” when announcing his departure from Mississippi State last year. Texas only took five players, but got 10 touchdowns and 813 yards from receiver Adonai Mitchell as well as three fixtures, if not stars, on defense and its punter from that group. Alabama was maybe the most transfer-independent of the group, also taking five with two players, linebacker Trezmen Marshall and tight end CJ Dippre, having strong seasons.
Jump ahead to our 12-team future using this year’s Playoff rankings for the field and you’ll a few more highly rated teams from the transfer rankings. Florida State probably won the portal national championship this year* with key additions like receiver Keon Coleman and defensive linemen Braden Fiske and, last year’s big score, Jared Verse keeping a team with playoff aspirations entering the season playoff-worthy while winning the ACC. Fiske came from Western Michigan, Verse from Albany; 247 rated this year’s transfer class sixth with 12 additions. Oregon had the ninth-best class with 15 commits. The only real volume shooter that would’ve made a 12-team playoff was Mississippi. Self-proclaimed “portal king” Lane Kiffin welcomed 23 new players, landing third on 247’s list.
I’m guessing none of that will surprise Rhule. While this is just his second crack at the portal,1 he turned to his experience with NFL free agency multiple times during last week’s press conference to help explain his thought process. As usual, he offered clear information on the approach.