Scott Frost

Scott Frost is always exploring options to add players to his roster. “For us, it’s got to be the right kid,” Frost said.

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.

Nebraska has had several players — Greg Bell, Guy Thomas, Justin McGriff, Cole Frahm, Andrew Bunch — enter the portal. Bunch, a walk-on, chose to stay at Nebraska. Frahm, another walk-on, transferred to South Dakota State. Thomas, McGriff and Bell don’t appear to have found landing spots.

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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