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Transfer portal giving and taking away at Georgia Southern
Shai Werts
Georgia Southern quarterback Shia Werts is shown in action against Appalachian State at Paulson Stadium in 2018. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT

Georgia Southern Athletics Director Jared Benko said a mentor of his coined the phrase the transfer portal giveth, and it taketh away. That has been the case at Georgia Southern as Eagle Nation was excited to hear the news, they got Georgia Tech quarterback James Graham and Oregon linebacker Andrew Johnson. This week came the news that they lost Shai Werts and Kendrick Duncan to Louisville.

“With Shai he was going to have my full blessing with whatever he wanted to do,” said Coach Chad Lunsford. “As much as I would love to have him on the team, he is ready for the next chapter and I don’t have a problem with that. He wants to go show that he can play wide receiver, and go to the next level at doing that. I love the fact that he is going to Louisville. I know Coach Satterfield, and I know his staff and what they are about and I think it’s a good transition from here to there.”

“With Kendrick Duncan, I’m not sure how I feel about that one,” said Lunsford. “The one thing Kendrick has done; is he has graduated from school here. He’s done a great job on and off the field and he’s been a great teammate. If I were to say I’m not disappointed I’d be lying. He’s a guy we wanted to count on moving forward. He’s a guy that I tried to talk out of it, and the coaches did too. Once they make that decision it’s time for me to coach the ones that want to be here.”

The NCAA one-time transfer rule is expected to pass this month. Under the proposed rule all Division 1 student-athletes would have the ability to transfer and compete immediately once during their collegiate experience. 

Most players are counting on this becoming a fact, and the floodgates have already opened. This week Georgia Southern receivers Malik Murray, and Darion Anderson entered the transfer portal. Wednesday 247 Sports reported on Twitter that cornerback David Spaulding and wide receiver Jallah Zeze had entered the portal as well.

The Eagles are expected to sign a few players off the transfer portal as well, as Lunsford mentioned on early signing day that they had put a few spots away for possible transfers.

“When we found out the one-time transfer rule was going to pass, we slowed things down as far as high school recruiting went,” said Lunsford. “We have six open spots to possibly take transfers. I don’t know if they will all go to transfers as we are talking to a couple mid-year high school students as well. I’d really like to get guys in here at this point that could go through our spring practice and conditioning.”

There are already social media sites devoted to covering which players have announced their intentions of entering the transfer portal.

“I think what a lot of people in college athletics want right now is uniformity,” said Benko. “You are arguable going to have more people in the portal this year than ever before, and less aid than ever. Right now, you have five classes of football and right now you have 85 scholarships. That number may be going up, but that is where we currently stand, and we have less aid to give them.”

“There are more people than ever looking to transfer, and less places for them to go,” said Benko. “I want each student athlete to be able to be at a place they want to be. I am a fan of trying to streamline the transfer process, to make it even across the board regarding the rules and regulations.”

The elements of the transfer portal that could, and should worry some college coaches, is that a player could go to a G-5 school like Georgia Southern for two years, be successful and decide they want to move on to a P-5 school. Which could potentially turn G-5 schools into Junior Colleges for the Power-5 conferences.

“The NCAA has opened up this can of worms,” said Lunsford. “You are seeing it a lot, and it’s only going to get worse. The big thing for us is we have to be playing the game as well, looking for spots that we are going to be missing. I think you are seeing modern day free-agency in college football.”

“I worry that it is going to change the dynamic of college athletics,” said Lunsford. “If it goes too far you are going to lose that family atmosphere of battling with your brothers for four years. I worry that it becomes more plug, and more like the NFL. You worry without the kind of recruiting you do with high school players; you just don’t have the time to dig into some of the transfer guys and whether they will be a good fit.”

The Eagles are expected to begin spring practice following Georgia Southern spring break which is scheduled for March 15-19.