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Peak Perspective: 2023 Transfer Portal Player Categories

We examine the motives of each player based on where they landed or didn’t.

Love it or hate it, the transfer portal is alive and active in the college sports world, especially for football. This year, May 31 marked the deadline for when a player can enter the portal and still be eligible to play in the upcoming season. However, players are still joining new schools, so the start of July seems like a good time to review the additions and attrition for every Mountain West team. Last week, the Mountain West teams were evaluated based on the players they gained and lost. This week, we examined the players who left MWC schools via the transfer portal this year. Instead of labeling them “winners” or “losers” based on where they ended up, a different approach will be used. This is partly to refrain from calling college players losers based on trying to make the best decisions for themselves that they can. However, it is also partly because there are many different reasons to transfer and this is an attempt to highlight some of those factors in the categories below.

You can see where specific players came from or went to in our Player Movement Tracker. Also, here is our 2022 version for those who like to compare data from year to year.

Note: As of 7-2-23, there are 284 Mountain West players who entered the transfer portal. All info is accurate as of this date.

Players who were looking to go Power 5

This category is pretty straightforward. Playing who excelled in the Mountain West Conference wanted to look for greener pastures and attracted the attention of more prominent schools. Compared to other categories, this is what most dream of when they enter the portal. It is for those looking to prove themselves at the next level or be affiliated with a school of greater prestige. It will be worth watching which of these players end up starting or playing meaningful roles and which ones become talented depth for teams. At the end of the day, good for them for attracting the attention of these teams.

MWC Players (45 players/15.85% of MWC transfers): DE Isaiah Bagnah, TE Tyneil Hopper, K/P Will Ferrin, DT Jackson Cravens, P Gavin Wale, WR Melquan Stovall, RB David Bailey, DL Devin Phillips, TE Tanner Arkin, WR Josh Kelly, DE Leonard Payne, DB Evan Williams, OL Bula Schmidt, DB Brayln Lux, DL Matt Lawson, QB Jaylen Henderson, OL Grant Starck, OL Aaron Frost, DB Adari Haulcy Jr, DL Ian Shewell, LB Dion Hunter, DB CJ Baskerville, OL Joshua Simmons, DB Patrick McMorris, WR Isaiah Hamilton, RB Isaiah Ifanse, OL Noah McKinney, WR Kyle Williams, DB Nohl Williams, RB Aidan Robbins, OL Leif Fautanu, OL Preston Nichols, QB Harrison Bailey, DB Crew Wakley, OL Weylin Lapuaho, DE Daniel Grzesiak, DE Byron Vaughns, DE Patrick Joyner, LB AJ Vongphachanh, DB Dominic Tatum, WR Joshua Cobbs, DE Oluwaseyi Omotosho, QB Caden Becker, OL Emmanuel Prengon, DL Philip Paea

Players going to Junior College in hopes of getting noticed by bigger schools

This category was much more common before the creation of the transfer portal and the one-time transfer rule that followed. Now it is the smallest category in this article. However, there are still benefits to a player transferring to a junior college from a traditional four-year program. First, it may be an opportunity to get one’s grades up, so they qualify at another school. Also, it can be a springboard or placeholder, allowing a player to spend showcasing their abilities to attract the attention of coaches and schools they may not have gotten coming out of their first school. It is basically a chance to keep playing while preserving the ability to transfer, so they don’t make a choice that isn’t beneficial to them.

MWC Players (15 players/5.28% of MWC transfers): OL Jadon Furubotten, RB Aiden Lal, WR Jalen Richmond, DB Brannan Mannix, OL Anthony La France, QB Alec Trujillo, DB Tydrick Marsh, DB Andrell Barney, DB Kedrek Smith, WR Terence Loville, DB Saco Alofipo, OL Maximus Fonoti-Maikui, OL Dominic Eldridge, WR Jacoby Kelly, RB/WR Hassin Mahasin,

Players looking for a change of scenery

This is another category that was surprisingly small compared to others. The title may not be the most fitting, but it was difficult to capture what seems to be more or less a lateral move. Transferring from one group of five school to another one isn’t really a step up, step down, or a placeholder for another option. While it’s true it may be a move for more playing time, considering the similar level of competition, it’s not an obvious guarantee like the category below. So the essence of this category seems to come down to finding a better fit for the player.

MWC Players (23 players/8.00% of MWC transfers): OL Jacob Golden, QB Hank Bachmeier, DE Deven Wright, WR Dante Wright, WR Thomas Pannunzio, OL Ches Jackson, DB Deandre Greeley, OL Owen Snively, LB Tavion Brown, RB Jaylen Thomas, DB Cale Sanders, WR Isaiah Batton, LS Austin Ortega, WR Geordon Porter, DB Anthony Odums, DB Isaiah McElvane, DL Tavian Coleman, WR Martavious Davis, QB Bishop Davenport, OL Mykel Janise, LS Brady Radz, WR Victor Snow, LB Maurice Wilmer

Players looking for more playing time

These are players who are moving down a level, going to an FCS or Division II school. As they will now, in theory, be bigger fish in smaller ponds, the theory is that they were probably looking for more playing time. Even if they weren’t, they will likely receive more playing time. It is also possible some players had big dreams of being courted by many schools from the Power 5 or the rest of the FBS, and when the offers didn’t come, they instead set their sights on the schools that wanted them, which is another reason they may have ended up in these schools. Regardless of the reason, they now have a chance to show off their talents at their new schools. As demonstrated below, this is where a large number of MWC transfers end up, which fits the pattern that most movement in the transfer portal goes down a level as opposed to up a level.

MWC Players (63 players/22.26% of MWC transfers): LB Tyler Brown, OL Kyle Niese, LB Cooper Roy, DB Kevin Mindiefield Jr, OL Carson Williams, TE/DE Casey Kline, QB Sam Vidlak, OL Dallas Holiday, DE Andy Nwaoko, TE Russell Corrigan, WR Ty McCullough, DB Robert Floyd, RB Alex Berrouet, TE Drake Martinez, OL George Miki-Han, WR Ky Oday Jr, DB Trevon Killins, QB Cammon Cooper, OL Nate Adams, LB Riley Wilson, TE Edwin LaCrosse, LB Jeremiah Bodwin, OL Thomas Haney, TE Carlton Brown, DL Aaron Overton, DB Benji Johnson, WR Jah’mar Sanders, DL Jake Saltonstall, DB Ronald Wilson Jr., DL Jaden Phillips, QB CJ Montes, WR Duke Miller, TE JP Murphy, TE Gavin McGee, DB Giovonni Harper, DB Mikale Greer, WR Jermaine Braddock, CB Pleasent-Johnson, WR Deamikkio Nathan, WR Jordan Riles, LB Owen Fa’amoe, RB John Gentry, WR Garrett Walchli, DB Keonte Glinton, DL Akili Bonnor, QB Hank Gibbs, RB Jordan Vaughn, LB Sanjay Stickland, DE Da’Marcus Johnson, RB Gary Quarles, P Hunter Ridley, TE Shaun Graysonm DB Michael Schneider, OL Joey Treccia, OL Tex Elliot, QB Jacob Barlage, WR Keenan Spear-Johnson, WR Trae Hall, DL Justin Elmore, DL Miles Bailey, P Travis Benham, DB Mekhi Mercer, DB Reggie Strong Jr,

Players who must really like the Mountain West.

There are an interesting number of players who stayed in the conference but are now at a different school. Some of the reasons are obvious, like all the players who transferred from Nevada to Colorado State to follow Coach Norvell and his staff. Others may just be coincidental, but they do make for some funny anecdotes. For instance, Utah State and Wyoming swapped backup quarterbacks while many players in the secondary bounded around from one school to another. It makes sense players are finding new teams who are more or less at the same level of competition as their old team. Especially if the depth chart is better at their position or if they are one of the missing pieces in cementing the new team as a contender.

MWC Players (12 players/4.23% of MWC transfers): LB Bam Amina, WR Gerick Robinson, K Andre Meono, K Kyler Halvorsen, DB JoJuan Claiborne, QB Jonah Chong, RB Peyton Dixon, LB Cody Moon, OL Laakea Kapoi, LB Kaleo Neves, DB Cam Stone, DB Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen

Players who do not fit in any other category

This is a new category due to having a few players who do not fit in any other classification. One is reclassifying, which is most common with Air Force players. Because many players in their recruiting classes go to the prep school and therefore don’t start their college eligibility clock, they can use it as a gap year and reclassify to the following year’s recruiting class. A player initially entered the transfer portal, but then declared for the NFL. While that can happen, it isn’t very common. Another one is retiring, which means the player decided to retire after entering the transfer portal. Also, unfortunately, one player tragically passed away this year after entering the transfer portal. Hopefully, that doesn’t turn into a theme.

MWC Players (6 players/2.11% of MWC transfers): QB Haaziq Daniels, LB Elijah Manning, DB Kaleb Miles, QB Bear Milacek, RB Jaden Hullaby, LB Avery Ellis

Players who have yet to find a home.

This is by far the largest category, which is very unfortunate. It’s all pretty obvious what it refers to. These players have entered the transfer portal and are still in it, not yet finding new homes. Most of them will not end up landing at a new school for various reasons. The rules don’t work that way, as teams cannot replace every player they lose. Also, some players bet on themselves, and it doesn’t work out. Maybe they hold out for offers that don’t come while other offers dry up. Regardless of the reason, the dark side to transferring should be noted and considered for any player trying to make the best decision for their future. It’s not a statement of whether or not to transfer, but instead something important to consider when weighing the pros and cons of the decision.

MWC Players (118 players/41.55% of MWC transfers): RB Kainoa Sayre, RB Tyler Stevens, DB David Eure, RB Daniel Jupiter, TE Liam Hoffmeyer, DB JJ Jelsing, DB KJ Truehill, TE Rocky Beers, DB Roman Kafentzis, RB Taequan Tyler, LB Rejhan Tatum, DB Isaiah Bradford, RB Elelyon Noa, OL Joesph Amos, DB Justin Stepanian, K Cayden Camper, DB Tywan Francis, RR A’Jon Vivens, WR EJ Scott, RB Mason Veve, DB Robert Floyd, DL Colby McNeal, RB David Aggrey, DB Titus Jones, OT Justin Michael, CB Duante Davis Jr, CB Langston Williams Jr, WR Damir Abdullah, DL Joshua Pakola, DL Tito Chikere, DB Michael Whaley, DB Emari Pait, DL Andres Fox, LB Rian Fields, QB Matthew Robinson, OL Joseph Church, DL John Sniffen, OL Amil Savage, RB Simi Bakare, WR Vallee Washington, DE Frankco Gratton, QB Connor Apo, LB Sonny Semeatu, WR Dior Scott, DB Tiger Peterson, OL Junior Ta’ase Faumui, LS Scotty Atkinson, RB Keith Morton, TE Trace Patterson, OL Andrew Cannon, WR Lucas Prendergast, DL Zack Mercado, WR Elijah Barclay, RB D’on Williams, WR Keyoneta Lanier, WR Zoe Roberts, QB Connor Genal, WR Christian Jourdain, WR Antonio Hunt, DB Xavier Hailey, K Zach Benedict, RB Chad Alexander, DE Jaxon Powell, OL Zacchaeus Williams, OL Donald Dixon III, RB Myron Carter, WR Alex Murrell, QB William Haskell, WR Ronald Gilliam, P David Delgado, WR Cassius Savage, OL Ramsey Qishta, WR Dandre Edwards, DL Grady Manley, RB Kenyon Sims, CB Kavon Baptiste-Williams, LB Tanner Salisbury, DL L’Cier Luter, CB Donyai Dixon, RB Spencer Briggs, RB Jayvaun Wilson, TE Byre Lighon, RB Samuel Green, RB Josh Tihada, DE Addison Trupp, RB Pailate Makakona, DB Luke Marion, WR Xavier Williams, QB Garrett Larson, DL Sione Moa, DT Aurion Peoples, CB Ajani Carter, WR Quinton Hadnot, DT Johnson Hansen, S Lofa Fonoti-Maikui, WR Jamie Nance, RB Bailee Davenport, CB Jaden Smith, CB Ty Barnett, DB Jett Solomon, DB Ronald Fuselier, DB Malone Mataele, DL Nikita Luferov, DT Falepouono Mosley, RB Joey Brassch, DB Zaire Jackson, WR Tyrese Grant, OT Jagger Filippone, WR Evan Hiremath, OL Deshawn Woods, WR Gavin Beerup, RB Max Jones, RB Jevon Bigelow, DB Desmond Hardy, RB Jordan Wilmore, LB Brent VanderVeen, WR Jeffrey Weimer, DB Michael Mack

Overall impressions:

Looking at last year’s version compared to this year’s, a few trends stuck out to me. One was that there was a slight increase in the amount of Mountain West players who transferred to Power 5 schools. It’s great for the players, but it will become tougher for the conference if those players end up playing key roles for their new teams. Seeing who plays next year and who simply becomes talented depth with something to watch for the players suiting up for P5 teams. The decrease in players transferring to another Mountain West school is no surprise, as last year was inflated with the mass exodus from Nevada to Colorado State. However, the other trend is a significant increase in the percentage of players who have yet to find a home. There is, of course, still time, but keep in mind this post looks at the same moment in time each year. It is always sad to see players transfer from a school and not be able to find a new school. With nearly half of the Mountain West transfers currently in that category, things are moving in the wrong direction.