The aspect of recruit that can often be neglected that can have a massive impact on a team is the recent explosion of graduate transfers in the sport. This is where players play out their last year of eligibility at another institution for whatever reason, whether it’s playing time, injury, dislike of a coach, etc. These players have had an impact on college football and it’s changing the dynamics of how teams recruit as the sport now has “one-and-done” similar to (but different than) its revenue-generating brother on the hardwood.
As graduate transfers relate to the MAC, teams in the league have a number of these types of “commits” for the 2018 season. Eastern Michigan landed former Iowa quarterback Tyler Wiegers, ex-Cincinnati kicker Andrew Gantz took his talents to Northern Illinois, Buffalo picked up a B1G target in ex-Wisconsin receiver George Rushing in addition to Notre Dame defensive back Ashton White, Toledo got bigger up front with former Florida State offensive lineman Brock Ruble, Central Michigan picked up a pair of defensive linemen in Sean Adesanya from Illinois and Marcus Griffin from Arizona, Michigan receiver Drake Harris made his way to Western Michigan along with Syracuse defensive back Juwan Dowels, while Miami nabbed Michigan quarterback Alex Malzone and Minnesota receiver Isaiah Gentry-Madaris.
Before we start celebrating the winning seasons each of the teams will have now as a result of these transfers, let’s keep in mind that the success rates with these recruits are about the same as with any other. These players are transferring for a reason, and the likelihood of getting a high-caliber player with an incredible work ethic on the field and in the classroom is very small. Players should be highly motivated for another opportunity to play Division I college football and challenge themselves to be better but we know that that’s not always the case. Acquiring a bunch of amotivated players can be a detriment to your team, but the reward can be great if the light is able to come on for them.
It’s interesting to note the players who transferred out of MAC programs as well. Kicker Shane Hynes left Kent State to try his luck at South Carolina while offensive lineman Stefano Millin left the Flashes to join Pittsburgh’s program, quarterback James Morgan went to Florida International after an up-and-down career at Bowling Green, and linebacker Jawaun Johnson departed from Northern Illinois to be closer to home at TCU. While it’s unfortunate that things couldn’t work out at their former schools, I feel that it’s a good thing that they are able to take a risk to better themselves and their situation although it can be a headache for coaches as well as fans.
Another thing to point out in all this player movement is the schools from the MAC that are not involved with transfers in 2018. I feel that it’s a conscious decision by programs like Ohio and Akron to not take a bunch of gambles with recruiting as that’s a a philosophy that experienced coaches like Frank Solich and Terry Bowden would likely have. On the other hand, Mike Neu and Ball State may have to roll the dice on transfers as he doesn’t quite have the goodwill that Solich or Bowden have to survive a couple more losing seasons.