Penn State Football Loses Just Three Players On The Transfer Portal’s Opening Day
College football experienced one of its noisiest days of the year Monday with the opening of the transfer portal window. Stars from big schools and small schools alike threw their name into the pot to see where they could land to continue their collegiate careers. The portal will be open through January 2, though that date only defines the final day that players can enter their name into the portal, not when they can select a new school.
For Penn State football, however, the day was as quiet as it can get for most football programs. The Nittany Lions went the entire day without losing any of their big stars and lost just three players in total. Punter Alex Bacchetta, wide receiver Cristian Driver, and cornerback Jace Tutty each announced their intentions to leave Penn State on Monday. The Nittany Lions’ talent loss was minimal compared to that of other programs.
Ohio State watched as at least a dozen players announce their decision to leave Columbus, including some big-name players. Kyle McCord, the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, announced his intention to leave the program along with wide receiver Julian Fleming, running back Evan Pryor, safety Cam Martinez, defensive end Omari Abor, and several others.
Texas A&M, which recently suffered an expensive coaching change, had much of its highly-touted recruiting Class of 2022 announce its exit from the program. Walter Nolen, the top-rated player of the class in the 247Sports Composite, said he would depart. The team’s starting quarterback, Max Johnson, has already committed to North Carolina.
Even Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, threw his name into the portal for the second time in his collegiate career. After Oklahoma’s October upset over Texas, Gabriel’s name was briefly thrown into the running for the Heisman trophy.
Luckily for James Franklin and those in the Lasch Building, Penn State’s moves thus far don’t seem like they’ll have much impact. Bacchetta spent his two years in Happy Valley backing up two different punters: Barney Amor and Riley Thompson. Driver was a defensive back in high school and his transition to wide receiver in college never seemed to pan out. Tutty, a run-on, only played a few snaps with Penn State and didn’t record any stats playing first-team football.
Most notably, none of Penn State’s key offensive players have decided to move on from the program after new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki was brought in for the fired Mike Yurcich. After the Michigan State game, quarterback Drew Allar and running back Nick Singleton said they’d remain with Penn State, but questions remained for the likes of running back Kaytron Allen and a wide receiver corps with a sluggish season.
Now comes the time for Franklin and his assistant coaches to delve into the portal to pick up fresh talent. The Nittany Lions used the portal last season to pick up running back Trey Potts, wide receivers Dante Cephas and Malik McClain, Thompson, and others. In previous years, notable stars like Chop Robinson and Mitchell Tinsley have come to Penn State by way of the portal.
Franklin declined to say which specific position groups he would look at bolstering via the portal this season, but he did note that he was hoping, like any other year, to use the portal to strengthen his roster.
“We just want to create as much competition as we possibly can in the locker room and go from there,” Franklin said Sunday. “That’s really what we’re looking for as best players available and, obviously, guys that are the best fits for our locker room, and our campus, and community.”
Still, easy to imagine that picking up a fresh group of wide receivers will be high atop Franklin’s list. He’s garnered some of his better wide receiver talent over the last two seasons from the portal, and after the performance of this year’s group, there’s no reason to believe that Franklin and wide receivers coach Marques Hagans won’t dip back into the pool.
Even as he searches for new players, Franklin made it clear that Penn State’s current roster is his priority, not finding new prospects to bring in.
“That’s the challenge, right? You have to, No. 1, take care of your current players and make sure that they are developing and finishing strong academically and giving yourself the best chance to win,” Franklin said. “But at the same time, you better be bringing in players, whether it’s from high school or from the transfer portal, who are going to allow you to keep growing and developing as programming as an organization for the future.”
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