May 11, 2023 - Sports

College football's transfer portal is in overdrive

A map with arrows pointing to different parts of the country

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The college football transfer portal's 2022-23 cycle ended earlier this month, and athletes yet again used the portal at a record clip.

By the numbers: 8,699 NCAA football players entered the portal between Aug. 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023, per ESPN. That's a 5.5% increase over last year's then-record number (8,242) and more than double the tally from the inaugural 2018-19 cycle (4,076).

  • Looking only at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) transfers shows a similar increase, with a record 3,284 FBS players entering the portal.
  • That's up 6.5% from last year (3,083) and roughly double 2018-19's tally (1,717), per 247 Sports.

Wild stat: That 3,284 figure means over 20% of all FBS players are looking to transfer this offseason. And it's not just benchwarmers, either.

  • The top 20 teams in 247 Sports' transfer rankings added a combined 102 players rated at least four out of five stars, including five schools who added at least seven such players.
  • Those five schools: USC (9), Auburn (9), LSU (8), Ole Miss (8) and Florida State (7).

The intrigue: No team has used the portal quite like Colorado, which saw a record 71 players enter during this past cycle alone. That hyperactivity was by design, fueled by new coach Deion Sanders' desire to rebuild the Buffaloes from scratch following a 1-11 campaign.

  • 61 of those 71 transfers entered the portal since Sanders' introduction in December, when he told players to "get ready to … jump in that portal" because "there's no way that I can put new furniture in this beautiful home if we don’t clean out the old furniture."
  • Sanders has already filled 45 of those vacancies with incoming transfers, or "new furniture." That includes wide receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter, the lone five-star player to switch programs this offseason and one of eight Jackson State players to follow Sanders to Boulder.
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