The transfer portal has been a heated debate for Clemson fans since it’s inception in 2018.
Dabo Swinney has been reluctant to utilize it, which is no surprise, seeing as he is less than thrilled with many of the changes in the sport as of late.
Swinney is a traditionalist. Many college football fans are as well. Unfortunately, for them the traditional era of college football received it’s final nail in the coffin when players became eligible to receive NIL money. Expect even more changes on the horizon.
The transfer portal is here to stay, like it or not. Relying solely on recruiting is no longer a recipe for success at the highest level. With college football becoming more and more commercialized by the day, the top tier teams will have to adapt to maintain their status. Clemson is no exception.
The best examples of this are the NFL and Alabama Crimson Tide. First let’s discuss the NFL. NFL teams have two means in which to obtain players. The NFL draft and free agency. As you can imagine, no team in the NFL can become dominant by relying on just one of these methods.
The best teams generally build their program through the draft, but fill in the missing pieces via free agency. Look no further than last year’s super bowl winning team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see how much one splash move can help.
Nick Saban has remained so dominant and consistent throughout his tenure mostly because of his ability to adapt. About a decade ago or so it was common to see Alabama score few points but win with a dominant running game and suffocating defense. Against Georgia in the SECCG, they dominated the number one defense in the country through the air to the tune of 42 points. That’s definitely a far cry from the Saban teams of old.
Two of those touchdowns and 184 of Alabama’s yards were gained by throwing the ball to speedster Jameson Williams. Williams is among the best receivers in college football and is also among the best of another group; transfer players.
You can also add the name of Henry To’oto’o to that list. He was one of Alabama’s top tacklers in that same game. He is also a transfer player. Saban recruits at the highest level, but is also capable of identifying weaknesses on the team and filling those positions with transfer players.
The point here is that a team simply cannot go into the season knowing they are weak at certain positions and think that they have a chance to make a run at a championship.
Clemson was severely exposed at offensive line this year. It’s a position that needs to be closely looked at over the offseason. Having said that, the Tigers were full coming into the season, but maybe finding a player in the portal and oversigning for a year wouldn’t have been a bad way to go. Center was a problem over the first half of the season and is a position that could have benefitted from another body.
Defensive back is another area. Clemson came in with just six scholarship corners, one short of the number they like to carry. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt them, but it very easily could have.
Clemson has had three top 300 players decommit in the last week alone. They have lost four more to the transfer portal. More decommitments could be coming with both coordinators moving on to head coaching jobs.
Currently the 2022 recruiting class has just 12 commitments. Not counting former walk-on players, Clemson only has two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for 2022, and we all saw how that played out last year. If there was ever a time that they could take advantage of the portal and use it to help them instead of just losing players to it, that time is now.
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