The college football world is one of the haves and the have-nots, and as is almost always the case, in this world, the rich continue to get richer. That used to be true through high school recruiting, but one bad class could sink a top team, now the best coaches at the biggest programs have the roster equivalent of white-out to cover up their mistakes.
The transfer portal is how the top teams truly separate themselves from the rest of the country. Those coaches can add superstar talent that’s one year away from the NFL or a developmental piece for a few years down the line, but with a season or multiple seasons of collegiate experience, talent is a lot easier to identify than taking a chance on a 17-year-old high schooler.
The portal surely drives coaches crazy and along with the lawless world of the NIL, it has driven a few out of the sport, but the coaches that haven’t embraced the portal have struggled to stay relevant.
With the portal comes roster turnover, but amongst the top 10 teams in the final 2023 College Football Playoff rankings, there was plenty of coaching turnover too. So, to help predict which teams will stay on top of the college football world in 2024, I’ve ranked the portal performances of the Top 10 teams this offseason.
Kalen DeBoer did a nice job adding talent through the transfer portal after taking over for Nick Saban, but DeBoer got a late start. With the portal idiotically opening up before the end of the year, Alabama missed out on some of the top talent just because it made the College Football Playoff before Saban retired.
The other thing that hurt DeBoer was the lack of talent left on his roster at Washington. Michael Penix Jr. Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja’Lynn Polk couldn’t follow him to Tuscaloosa because they were already heading to the NFL.
DeBoer brought in LT Overton from Texas A&M for his defensive line and convinced Germie Bernard and Parker Brailsford to come with him from Washington, but that doesn’t offset the losses.
Why Bama checks in at No. 10 is the amount of talent that DeBoer watched walk out the door. That list is headlined by the SEC Freshman of the Year Caleb Downs who will play his sophomore season at Ohio State. Five-star QB Julian Sayin also transferred to Ohio State.
Jalen Milroe will love playing in DeBoer’s offense, even after his longtime offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb left to become the OC of the Seattle Seahawks. However, Milroe will head into 2024 without his starting left tackle Kadyn Proctor (Iowa), and his top three targets Jermaine Burton (NFL), Isaiah Bond (Texas), and Amari Niblack (Texas).