So far — and it’s very early — the transfer portal has been much kinder to Utah State
The Aggies were decimated by the transfer portal last offseason, but so far USU hasn’t had any known defections
The NCAA transfer portal hasn’t officially opened yet. That won’t happen until Dec. 4.
At which point, college football players from across the country can enter their names into the portal, broadcasting their desire to continue their collegiate careers somewhere besides their current school.
“We’ve got to retain this roster. We can’t lose nine starters again in the offseason. We can’t. We’re gonna graduate a group, we know that. But we’ve got to retain this roster.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
That official Dec. 4 date hasn’t actually stopped many players from announcing their intentions to transfer, though, following the conclusion of the 2023 regular season.
Per 247 Sports, since Saturday, Nov. 25 — the final Saturday of the season, not counting conference championship games — 150-plus players have either publicly announced or had it reported that they will enter their names into the transfer portal.
And that number only continues to grow with each passing hour.
Some of those players are graduate transfers, who could enter the portal at any time, while others are players from teams that fired their coaches, which also allows for early entry into the portal.
These aren’t all players from programs that failed to become bowl eligible, either. Many have played and even started for successful FBS programs that still have games to play this season.
Players like Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and Kansas State quarterback Will Howard, to name a few of the more notable.
In the state of Utah, the Utes have lost six players to the portal this cycle, four in the last couple of days, namely quarterback Nate Johnson, cornerback Faybian Marks, wide receiver Makai Cope, and cornerback Jocelyn Malaska, in addition to previous entrants in cornerback Kenzel Lawler and safety Jadon Pearson.
Thus far, though, Utah State has gone unscathed.
Yes, the team that lost 36 outgoing transfers last offseason currently hasn’t lost a single player to the portal. At least none that have been publicly reported.
Keeping players at Utah State has been a point of emphasis for Aggie coach Blake Anderson this year, following the damage done to the program by mass defections last year.
Anderson has said on many occasions that this season was almost like Year 1 of a rebuild, given the Aggies added 40-plus players to the roster, while replacing their entire defensive line.
“We’ve got to retain this roster,” Anderson said. “... We can’t lose nine starters again in the offseason. We can’t. We’re gonna graduate a group, we know that. But we’ve got to retain this roster.
“I think we are taking good steps towards that. I’ve had phenomenal conversations with a lot of guys that indicate they are staying put. I’m hoping that as we get closer towards Dec. 4 you’ll hear more and more guys talking about staying.”
At least one notable Aggie starter has come out to declare that he is staying at Utah State.
Linebacker Anthony Switzer, recently named an honorable mention All-Mountain West defender, said in a post on X following the Aggies’ double-overtime win over New Mexico: “We’re staying put and we’re going to build a great program!”
More commitments like those will be music to Anderson and company’s ears, especially with the Aggies placing another eight players on all-conference teams, five of whom, like Switzer, are underclassmen in junior wide receiver Jalen Royals, sophomore safety Ike Larsen, junior wide receiver Micah Davis, junior tight end Broc Lane and sophomore safety Devin Dye.
Currently, Utah State is one of only two MW programs that hasn’t lost at least one player to the transfer portal already this cycle, along with Colorado State.
Will the Aggies avoid any and all attrition into the portal this offseason? Of course not.
But given Anderson’s stated emphasis on keeping players in Logan — “We will meet, honestly, with every one of these guys and give honest assessments of where we’re at. We’ve already started a lot of those (conversations) especially the guys that have the ability to leave if they chose to, like guys did a year ago” he said — the lack of transfer portal news can be viewed as good news right now.