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Opinion: ASU football's reliance on the transfer portal is not a long-term solution

The Sun Devils recruited many strong transfers to make up for their lackluster high school class, but having most on the team for a short time will make success unsustainable

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Redshirt junior quarterback Paul Tyson works out at the Student-athlete Facility at Sun Devil Stadium. Tyson transferred to Arizona State from Alabama after the 2021-2022 season.

The transfer portal has been commendable for the Sun Devils, a football team that needs an extra boost of talent after a very lackluster high school recruiting season. The Sun Devils are ranked 103 in the nation in high school recruiting and hold the last spot in the Pac-12 conference. Where they lack in high school recruiting, they make up for in transfer portal signings.

The fact ASU had to recruit from the transfer portal is worse for the team, because yes, while you get more experienced players, experience means older, and older means the team will lose players to the draft sooner than players recruited out of high school.

Former Sun Devil quarterback Jayden Daniels is a great example of someone who was recruited out of high school who went on to have a great Sun Devil career over his three years with the program.

Someone who transfers to a school has less time with the program and the coaching staff. 

Yes, there may be outliers like Joe Burrow who transferred from Ohio State to Louisiana State where he threw for 8,565 yards and 76 touchdowns. Burrow also led LSU to a national title in 2019.

But most transfers have to settle into a team's system to make the most impact. And most transfers don't have the luxury of having many years to make that transition, either.

ASU's ongoing recruitment scandal likely led to the lack of success in recruiting high school athletes, leading the program to look to the transfer portal. ASU pulled together a strong class this past year, with the group of transfers being ranked 16th in the nation.

Head coach Herm Edwards made the shift in strategy knowing the portal was a viable option. He praised the portal in the past as a means to recruit talent, calling it "college football's free agency.

Arguably the most notable signing in the program's most recent class was Paul Tyson, a former 4-star quarterback from Alabama. With the departure of Jayden Daniels to LSU this season, Tyson looks to compete for the starting quarterback spot, and he will use the knowledge he's gained from being the backup to now NFL quarterback Mac Jones and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young to help him this spring.

But Tyson wasn't the only transfer athlete who decided to play in Tempe this coming fall. Emmit Bohle, an incoming offensive lineman from Northern State said he chose to come to ASU because, "A big thing for me was the opportunity and getting to play here at Arizona State with a coach like coach (Kevin Mawae) and the development I can do here."

He said being in a bigger city like Tempe opens up a lot of opportunities and connections that are around a bigger city, but Bohle seems focused on the task at hand, as he said, "At the end of the day it's still just football. I'm here to play football."

Along with the additions of Tyson and Bohle, ASU has also landed defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera from Miami. A former 4-star recruit, Jade Silvera will fit in nicely with Jermayne Lole who is recovering from an injury he suffered last season.

However, all but one of the transfers the Sun Devils recruited are upperclassmen. ASU will very likely lose many of them after this year.

While ASU compensated for the worst recruiting class in school history with a strong transfer class, the team will only be able to reap the benefits of its efforts for a short time. The program putting all of its eggs into the hypothetical transfer portal basket shouldn't be viewed as a long-term recruiting strategy.


Reach the reporter at jdhinkl1@asu.edu and follow @JeffreyHinkle_ on Twitter.

Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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