NCAA transfer portal squeezing Colorado prep football recruits out of scholarships
MLB 

Kyle Krebs is one of those 185-pound manimals — a track sprinter who squats 375 pounds and benches 240.

As a junior at Mullen, he averaged 4.9 yards per touch and 23.8 yards per kick return. He digs catching passes out of the backfield. He’s a willing blocker. As a sophomore, he posted 100-meter times in the 11.5-second range at least twice at sanctioned meets. He was a second-team JeffCo all-conference selection at tailback who’s rocking a 3.0 GPA.

College offers?

“I don’t have any,” Krebs replied.

And here’s the scary part: Among Front Range college football prospects in the Class of 2022, teens finishing up a tumultuous junior year, Krebs isn’t alone. Not by a long shot.

The ripples from the COVID-19 pandemic came in waves on the recruiting front. The first, roughly a year ago, was total stoppage, the gears of the collegiate machine grinding to a halt.

While those gears are slowly churning again as statewide vaccination numbers go up, the aftershocks of that shutdown are still being felt.

But the ones who could feel it the most, and whom it might hit the hardest, are this year’s prep juniors. Several, like Krebs, now find themselves potentially being squeezed by the convergence of the NCAA’s response to the pandemic and the reforms designed to improve collegiate student-athlete rights.

Add it all up, and welcome to the great scholarship bottleneck. College seniors have been granted an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic. New transfer rules, in which student-athletes can become eligible immediately at their new school, have some coaches shopping for veterans instead of prep prospects. And the pandemic wiped out summer camps in 2020, costing teens valuable face time with college coaches.

“I sure do know this,” Mullen football coach Jeremy Bennett said. “I hope the NCAA comes to their senses and doesn’t lose sight of the kids that aren’t in college yet …

“And up to this point, it’s a little scary if you’re a high school football player. We’ll wait and see. We’ll all hold our breath. And hopefully the decision is made to keep high school football players relevant.”

+++

But Bennett isn’t counting on it, either. And he can cite at least one local example as to why: the Class of 2021 for the Northern Colorado Bears, coached by former Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.

Of the 17 signees announced last December by UNC, seven were transfers. And the Bears have since added former Michigan quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, the coach’s son, and former West Virginia offensive lineman Blaine Scott to that list.

“I think you’re going to see those guys that were Division I guys, they’re going to be Division II or Division III guys,” Bennett said.

“Most of us have good relationships with (college coaches) we’ve known for a quarter-century. Their hands are tied, too, to some degree. If you get a guy who carries the ball 250 times as a senior at Arkansas or you’ve got a high-school senior, what are you going to do?

“I’ve got a lot of respect for college coaches, and they’re always going to do right by their programs. But at the same time, this is how they make their living. If they’ve got to go to the portal to win, they’re going to do it.”

Scholarships that ordinarily would be earmarked for the Class of ’22 are, in some cases, being used by returning seniors or reserved for potential transfers. Because there’s no indication that the NCAA will expand its cap of 85 scholarship players or 25 signees per year, it’s put prep juniors at risk of getting fewer Division I scholarship offers than ever, creating a domino effect that could even spill into the current crop of sophomores and freshmen.

“You’re just operating right now at a real deficit,” CSU Rams coach Steve Addazio noted. “So I think the effects are going to be felt more this year than they were last year.

“And unfortunately, with the onset of the transfer rules lightening up, who knows? It’ll probably be one of those years where some teams will have more transfers than they will incoming freshmen. It’s going to be a mixed bag.”

Meanwhile, what’s a parent to do? Kyle’s father, Ryan, has looked into setting up a marketing plan for his son. Hiring a professional videographer. The whole shebang.

“It’s crossed my mind,” Ryan said. “You’re just bombarded with this stuff — should I be doing this, should I be doing that? It’s really hard to break all that down and figure out the best path and the best strategy.”

Bennett has one: Get Kyle on college campuses, in front of college coaches, once campus visits are allowed in June again. And going to as many as you can over that month, even if it means missing track meets.

The NCAA’s Division I council recently voted to resume the regular recruiting calendar June 1. Camps and on-campus visits — a summer staple that vanished during the initial lockdowns of 2020 — are set to return June 1-27.

“His junior year was cut short,” Bennett said of his tailback. “He’s got some film but it’s not what it should’ve been … I think coaches more than ever are leveraging relationships. We have to beg, borrow and steal to get our kids an opportunity.”

To that end, Bennett has been begging old friends at schools as far away as Eastern Michigan, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. And as near as UNC.

“I’ve got to continue to be the squeaky wheel for him,” the Mullen coach said. “And he’s got to put himself in position by going to camps where, finally, someone says, ‘OK.’”

+++

If a scholarship to an FBS or FCS program doesn’t happen, you ask Kyle Krebs, what then? What’s the fallback in a more competitive, congested landscape and an early signing period — December — that’ll be here in a blink?

“That’s a question I’ve been asked many times,” Kyle replied. “And if a (smaller) school were to offer me money and have trust in me to be a football player at their school, I feel that I’ve got to take that (offer), especially because playing to get your education for free is huge.

“Now would I trust myself with getting a walk-on spot (at a bigger school) and trust myself that I can ball out? Yes. If I have to start college even at a junior college, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. And that’s when that transfer portal can come in (for me). It’s huge.”

Kyle Krebs turns 17 next month. Bennett says he’s posting 40 times in the low 4.6s. That’s FBS tailback territory — a kid running like he’s got some serious catching up to do. He’s not alone there, either.

Source: Read Full Article