The NCAA transfer portal is changing the way programs manage their rosters. Very few coaches are on board with those changes, though. In fact, there are coaches who want to avoid that route altogether.
One of those coaches is Dabo Swinney.
He doesn’t like the transfer portal. He made it clear that his preference is to develop kids out of high school. As Clemson gears up for spring practice, Swinney shared his thoughts on the portal.
“Nothing has changed,” Swinney said, via The Clemson Insider. “But I just know that the landscape is different, and I want to be well positioned and I want to have an infrastructure in place that’s going to help us continue to compete to be the best.
“Our philosophy has always been to recruit high school kids … We haven’t gone the transfer route – now the portal – ever, to address the needs of our team. We’ve just always taken a lot of pride in our evaluation of high school kids, and then our development of those kids. We’ve always been a developmental program. That’s not ever going to change. That philosophy’s always going to be in place.”
It makes sense, but the Tigers have dealt with a few departures recently.
Former five-star running back Demarkcus Bowman left for Florida back in Oct. of 2020. He’s now going through spring practice with the Gators. Then starting cornerback Deion Kendrick, a first-team All-ACC selection in 2020, recently announced his decision to enter the portal.
Now after Signing Day, a starter on defense is gone. In an ideal situation, the team would adopt a “next man up” mentality. But at minimum, this hurts the depth of the national title contender, and Swinney recognizes that. He needs the portal in these sort of instances.
“If we have gaps in our roster – all of the sudden, we get some guys that decide to leave in May – well, guess what, you can’t go recruit high school kids in May, so you better have a plan in place,” Swinney said. “So, we’ve created the right type of structure. It’s really kind of an NFL-type model from a high school scouting, a college scouting (standpoint), and I love what we’ve been able to do so far as far as building the infrastructure and the information base the way I want it to be. It’s been really, really good.
“And if we have to go that route at some point, well guess what, we’ll get the best. But our criteria, our process, will be the exact same as it is for our high school kids.”
Swinney isn’t the only head coach who feels this way. It may be an unpopular take, but the emergence of the portal creates difficulties managing the roster. Period.
With that said, it isn’t going way anytime soon, so at least he’s willing to accept it.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.