New Texas college coaches utilize transfer portal to replenish ranks

Courtesy of Ty Buchanan, Brandon Campbell, Camar Wheaton, Isaiah Neyor and Emani Bailey

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Welcome to the new reality. 

Three of the state’s 12 FBS football programs hired new head coaches for the 2022 season, and those three programs are the ones utilizing the transfer portal the most. Currently, SMU leads the way with 15 added transfers. Texas Tech and TCU sit at 13 each, respectively. The trio of new head coaches averaged 13.6 new transfer additions as of May 9. The nine programs with returning head coaches sit at an average of 5.11 transfer additions. Texas State at 10 and Houston at 9 are the two highest amongst returning head coaches. 

Head coaches in modern football are expected to win right away, and the portal allows for a quick upgrade to an inherited roster. It is a double-edged sword for new coaches. Sure, the portal allows for quick fixes to a position group that is lacking talent or depth, but the power lies with the players thanks to the May 1st deadline to enter the portal. 

“It is a double-edged sword because players can leave whenever they want, which makes it tough to build a culture,” SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee said. “At the same time, there are opportunities to fill holes that maybe you couldn’t in the past.”

Sonny Dykes, now the head coach at TCU, leveraged the transfer portal to propel SMU to its best four-year run since the Death Penalty was handed down in the 1980s. SMU added 16 transfers in 2019, six in 2020, and 13 in 2021. Transfers such as Shane Buechele, Chevin Calloway, Tanner Mordecia, and Grant Calcaterra became star players for the Mustangs.

Lashlee, who was the offensive coordinator for the Mustangs for two of Dykes’ years at SMU, is continuing that tradition. SMU has added eight offensive transfers and six on defense. Former five-star running back Camar Wheaton, who began his college career at Alabma, is the offensive headliner. Offensive linemen Owen Condon and Joseph Bissinger are expected to start on the left side of the offensive line. Four new wide receivers, including Rice’s Jake Bailey and Texas’ Kelvontay Dixon will arrive in the summer to replenish the ranks out wide. 

“The reality is that we’re trying to get the best players we can to improve our roster and win a championship,” Lashlee said. “Guys want to come to SMU. They want to come to Dallas. We’re on the verge to do some great things here with the city behind us.” 

Dykes is pulling a similar trick across town in Fort Worth. TCU is up to 13 added transfers since the end of the 2021 season. The Horned Frogs added a trio of running backs headlined by Emani Bailey. TCU also added three new defensive linemen to the mix as the program transitions from a four-man front to an odd-man front. The three-man front requires big-bodied defenders capable of taking on double teams. In all, six new faces were added to offense and seven on defense. 

“In today’s world, I’m not sure your roster is set until the middle of August,” Dykes said. “We try to get as many players into the programs as possible and then develop them.”

An examination of the number of transfers added at a specific position group allows outsiders a glimpse into where the new coach feels upgrades are most needed. SMU added four receivers and three linebackers. TCU added three running backs and defensive linemen. At Texas Tech, new head coach Joey McGuire added five new players to his offensive line, including USC transfer Ty Buchanan.

“We’ve done a great job adding quality bodies to help our numbers along the offensive line,” McGuire said. “We’re always going to put a premium on having plenty of scholarships in the trenches because big guys beat up little guys.”

Texas A&M and Baylor bring up the rear with two incoming transfers, a sign of a healthy roster. Texas, UTSA, and Rice added five transfers. North Texas brought in seven new players. 

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