College Football is 220 days away, but a lot of what happens during the Fall is a result of the work that is put in during the early months of the year. This feels particularly true this year as every team’s rosters are shuffling at a pace that we’ve never seen before. As of January 17th, 2,200 players have put their names in the portal, with only 1,100 committed to other college football teams.
By the end of the month, we may be at 2,500 transfers, which would be an average of 18.7 players per team. Being able to handle the transfer portal as well as continue to recruit high school players can be a really tough task for any team, and it is still a new field that coaches and teams are having to adjust to.
Obviously, some teams are doing really well at this, while others seem to be falling apart. Here are three college football teams who are having a great January up to this point.
TCU went all in on the transfer portal this year. With only six high school signees during National Signing Day, it became very clear that the Horned Frogs were going to lean heavily on the transfer portal in January.
To this point, they’ve done a fantastic job.
With only 11 transfers leaving the team, and 19 teams joining the team, TCU has one of the better ratios in college football. Additionally, the players that TCU is losing are, for the most part, backups who weren’t expected to play a huge role in 2024. The biggest name to leave is Chandler Morris, however, nobody really expected (or hoped) that Morris would be starting next year.
Instead, they were able to bring in Ken Seals from Vanderbilt who fits the Sonny Dikes system much better. Finally, TCU brought on Ken Wilson to coach the linebackers. Wilson was the Head Coach at Nevada last year and brings a long resume of success at coaching on the defensive side of the ball.
In other words, you can say that TCU is good “Kenough”…. I’ll see myself out.
This is going to sound really weird, considering that the Washington Huskies just lost their head coach, Kalen DeBoer, have had 20 players transfer out, and don’t even have a full coaching staff yet. When you add all of that together, it seems like a terrible January for any college football team.
Here is why it isn’t that way.
First, Jedd Fisch is a phenomenal coach and was a homerun hire for the Huskies. Additionally, Washington was absolutely stacked this past season with senior leadership. The Huskies were already going to most of their starters, with now 20 of the 22 starters officially being gone for next season. This meant that Washington was already going to likely struggle in 2024 and rely heavily on the transfer portal.
With Jed Fisch coming over from Arizona, he will almost certainly bring quite a few of his starters with him that helped lead Arizona to a final AP Ranking of 11. This will be an unpopular opinion, but I actually think the Huskies are in a better spot today for long-term success than they were a week ago when DeBoer was still the Head Coach.
Washington likely won’t be a College Football Playoff contender in 2024, but they are setting themselves up to be potentially very good in the near future.
UCF’s great month hasn’t been as loud or dramatic as TCU or Washington, but their moves and changes have been very good and about as impactful as any other college football team in the nation.
The good news started on January 1st when UCF announced that Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson would be playing his final college season in Orlando. Jefferson was considered one of the top remaining QB targets at the time, and he could have easily landed at another SEC school. Instead, the 6’3″ 220-pound running quarterback decided he wanted to play for Gus Malzhan and his offense.
A few weeks later, Ladarius Tennison, a starting safety from Ole Miss announced he’d be joining the team. The UCF defense ranked 84th in yards given up per game last year, and having Tennison as a team leader in the back end of the defense should boost the entire team.
Finally, on January 17th, the team announced that veteran coach and former Assistant Coach of the Year Ted Roof would become the team’s new defensive coordinator. Roof has coached at a dozen schools all over the nation and has been known to build defenses that get takeaways and tackles in the backfield. If his 30-year proven record continues next season, watch out for UCF to be a Top 50 defense with a very dangerous offense to back them up.
— Ladarius S. Tennison (@TenBen_3) January 13, 2024
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