LINCOLN — Under Big Ten and NCAA rules, Nebraska coach Scott Frost could have signed a few more high school football prospects in February.
But Frost chose to keep a few scholarships in his back pocket for what’s become an emerging recruiting market: The transfer portal.
The NCAA database launched on Oct. 15. It allows any player interested in transferring from his current school to add his name and contact information. He doesn’t have to seek his current school’s permission to enter the portal and schools won't be dragging their feet in adding prospects once a player gives notification. The player is, in effect, a free agent, even if he has the option, in some cases, to return to his current school.
Frost said the portal will become a common place to look for players. He said it's going to be "old news very soon, as many kids are going to put their name in."
In fact, many already have.
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According to the NCAA, there are 1,525 Division I football players currently in the portal — scholarship players and walk-ons alike. Though the database is technically inaccessible to the media, more prominent names — like Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) and Tate Martell (Ohio State to Miami) — either leak out or are announced officially by players on social media. 247Sports has even created a Live Transfer Portal feed that updates when players join the portal and where they end up. The top transfers are even ranked.
NU has taken a player, nose tackle Darrion Daniels, from the portal. Daniels benefited from a new rule that allowed him to preserve his redshirt season so long as he played four or fewer games. Daniels’ senior season at Oklahoma State was cut short by an injury, so he took the year and parlayed it into a transfer to Nebraska, where his younger brother, Damion, is also a nose tackle.
“I think he was anxious to play with his brother for a year,” Frost said on signing day. “His brother kept hinting at it, and we kept telling him we couldn’t do anything until the season was over and if he put his name in the transfer portal. After he did, honestly, it happened really fast, and this is where he wanted to be. So we were glad to add a piece on our defensive line and I think he’s going to help us.”
Darrion Daniels was a captain for the Cowboys. Frost liked that about him and wants players he thinks can be “good teammates.” Last season, NU accepted three transfers. Two — Noah Vedral and Tre Neal — came from Central Florida, Frost’s previous coaching stop. Another, Breon Dixon, came from Mississippi.
Neal, as a graduate transfer, was immediately eligible. Dixon, and eventually Vedral, were granted immediate eligibility through the NCAA waiver process. ESPN this week reported that 79.7 percent of transfers who requested immediate eligibility waivers in 2018 received them.
Fields just received one at Ohio State, and he’ll have a chance to be OSU’s starter in 2019 after backing up Jake Fromm at Georgia last season. On Thursday, the NCAA announced a committee would examine transfer waiver guidelines to “make sure they are in line with the membership’s expectations.” The NCAA said high-profile cases, such as Fields', can “skew perceptions.”
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos doesn’t love the trend. There are aspects of the transfer industry he supports — he likes the new four-game rule, for example — and he believes a high school player should be able to pick a new school if the head coach leaves before he arrives. But once that player has been at a school two or three years, Moos said, the investment has already been made. It shouldn’t be so easy to leave.
Moos expects the NCAA to tinker with transfer rules in April.
“I know it’s going to be readdressed because some warts have been exposed with regards to quarter schools and semester schools and who can come steal your players,” Moos said.
Last season, Oregon State landed three former Huskers — Avery Roberts, Tristan Gebbia, and Tyjon Lindsey. Lindsey even played four games before transferring to the Beavers, which run on a quarters system and could accept players weeks into the regular season because school starts later. Nebraska briefly restricted Bell from transferring to Oregon State — until the Oct. 15 portal creation rendered that blockage moot — to prevent Bell from following Lindsey to Corvallis. As it stands, schools like Oregon State have an advantage in accepting transfers.
In theory, NU could accept transfers through late August until the last day UNL classes can be added to a schedule. More likely, Nebraska explores the transfer market in the spring and early summer, particularly at positions of need such as corner or pass rusher. Last year, Neal filled a gap at safety and became one of the Huskers’ top tacklers.
“For us, it’s got to be the right kid,” Frost said. “It’s got to be someone that’s going to fit on our team and it’s somebody that’s talented enough to help us. We’ll certainly keep our eye on that and we have some flexibility to take one or two of those if the situation arises.”
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Nebraska's former head football coach Tom Osborne looks on from the sideline before the Colorado game.
Shelley Malone and Jayme Malone, of Lincoln, who have been married for 42 years walk through a shaft of light in the concourse of Memorial Stadium prior to the Troy game.
Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo (22) carries the ball upfield against Northwestern during the fourth quarter.
Northwestern's Flynn Nagel (2) bobbles the ball that was ultimately intercepted by Nebraska's Tre Neal (14) during the fourth quarter.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr gives a peace symbol after scoring a touchdown against Illinois.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez jumps in the air after a win over Michigan State.
Nebraska's Maurice Washington is lifted into the air after scoring a touchdown against Iowa.
The golden feathers atop the Minnesota band hats glow before the game against Nebraska.
Nebraska's Dicaprio Bootle, left, and Cam Taylor celebrates beating Michigan State 9-6.
Antonio Reed, right, forces Michigan State's Rocky Lombardi to fumble the ball in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez scores a fourth quarter touchdown against Iowa.
Iowa's Jake Gervase can't stop Nebraska's Jack Stoll from scoring a first quarter touchdown.
Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo celebrates a first quarter touchdown against Minnesota.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr. reaches for a punt midway through the third quarter against Michigan State.
Nebraska's Matt Jarzynka hugs his mother Susan, as she and his father Mike Jarzynka participate in senior day ceremonies.
Nebraska's Jerald Foster lifts up place kicker Barret Pickering after a field goal against Michigan State.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr. catches a pass against Michigan State at the 12-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska's Barret Pickering, center, celebrates hitting a fourth quarter field goal with teammates Tanner Farmer, left, and Kurt Rafdal, right.
Nebraska's Jack Stoll (86) is hit and flanked by Purdue's Tario Fuller (25) and Dedrick Mackey (1) on a kick return during the second quarter.
Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo runs against Bethune-Cookman.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost congratulates Mick Stoltenberg on his pass interception late in the fourth quarter against Illinois.
Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo runs for a fourth quarter touchdown as Illinois' Jartavius Martin chases him.
A stiff wind blows the beard of Lyle Bridgmon, of Falls City, Nebraska around, as he waits for the start of the Nebraska and Michigan State game outside of Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo gets tackled by Michigan State's Andrew Dowell, No.5, and Kenny Willekes, No. 48, on the first drive of the game.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr. (8) fails to make a catch while guarded by Colorado's Evan Worthington (6) and Delrick Abrams (1) during the third quarter.
Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost waves to the crowd as he leaves the field after defeating Bethune-Cookman 45-9.
Nebraska's Noah Vedral sits in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Bethune-Cookman.
Bethune-Cookman's David Israel throws a pass in the third quarter against Nebraska.
Nebraska's Noah Vedral dives for a touchdown against Bethune-Cookman.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez throws a pass in the second quarter against Minnesota.
Fans can get a detailed view of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium via a custom tour arranged through the athletic department.
Nebraska's Aaron Williams celebrates making a 4th down stop in the second quarter against Minnesota.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr. pokes Nebraska head coach Scott Frost while he is being interviewed after the Minnesota game.
Nebraska's JD Spielman walks into the end zone for a second quarter touchdown against Minnesota.
Nebraska's Noah Vedral throws a pass in the third quarter against Bethune-Cookman.
Purdue's D.J. Knox (1) leaps over Nebraska's Lamar Jackson (21) bringing the ball to the 1-yard-line during the second quarter.
Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander runs the stairs at Michigan Stadium before the start of the game.
Husker fans Ian Froemming, center, and Chris Miller, right, both of Omaha, aren't impressed as Michigan scores a first quarter touchdown.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez is sacked by Michigan defenders Devin Bush (10), Michael Dwumfour (50) and Devin Gil (36) in the second quarter.
Purdue's Kenneth Major breaks up a fourth quarter pass intended for Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr.
Fans walk around campus before the start of the Nebraska and Minnesota.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost leads the Huskers on the field for the first time as coach before the Akron game that was rained out.
Christa Rahl cheers as she and the rest of the student section wait out the weather delay against Akron.
Morgan Peatrowsky of West Point, Nebraska, stands in the rain as the crowd is cleared from the bleachers because of lightning before the Akron game that was rained out.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr. falls into the fans seating while going for a fourth quarter pass against Colorado.
Nebraska's Dicaprio Bootle breaks up a pass intended for Colorado's K.D. Nixon in the third quarter.
Nebraska's quarterbacks coach, Mario Verduzco, removes a unlit cigar from his mouth as he and the Huskers arrive at Memorial Stadium for the Unity Walk prior to the Akron game that was rained out.
Nebraska's Stanley Morgan Jr. (8) attempts to leap over Ohio State's Damon Arnette (3) during the first quarter.
Nebraska's head football coach Scott Frost exits the field after the 36-31 loss to Ohio State.
Nebraska's senior Jerald Foster (67) is embraced by head coach Scott Frost during a senior ceremony prior to the Michigan State game.
Nebraska's Jaevon McQuitty (4), Tanner Farmer (63) and Jordan Ober (84) participate in the tunnel walk before the game against Michigan State.
Nebraska's head coach Scott Frost hoists a football in the air after defeating Michigan State 9-6.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez enters Ohio Stadium prior to the Ohio State game.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez (2) celebrates his touchdown with teammates Kurt Rafdal (82) and Brenden Jaimes (76) against Ohio State during the second quarter.
Nebraska's head football coach Scott Frost walks off the bus as he arrives at Memorial Stadium for the Unity Walk prior to the game against Akron that was rained out.
Nebraska's Austin Allen takes the field with fellow Huskers prior to kickoff against Northwestern.
Nebraska's head coach Scott Frost burries his face in his hands after visiting an injured Luke Gifford during the fourth quarter against Northwestern.
Cheese head, Brett Peterson, of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and corn head Casey Conner, of Athens, Wisconsin, look on during the Wisconsin game.