Transfer portal versus WSU sports

WSU athletics’ men’s basketball, football have gained some, lost some to NCAA’s transfer portal

Football+has+lost+key+players+like+Jamire+Calvin+and+Blake+Mazza+to+transfer+portal.

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Football has lost key players like Jamire Calvin and Blake Mazza to transfer portal.

AARIK LONG, Evergreen copy editor

Over the years, college sports have vastly changed from what they once were. One of the largest changes has been the increase in transfers of big-name players in the two biggest sports: football and men’s basketball.

The transfer portal has been one of those developments in recent years that has gained huge attention from the media and fans alike. With recent rule changes from the NCAA to allow players one free transfer, which is a transfer where the player will not have to sit out a season, the portal has become an even larger phenomenon.

Both WSU football’s Nick Rolovich and basketball’s Kyle Smith have scoured the portal. Conversely, they have both lost very good players to the portal. To very, very loosely quote the Book of Job, “The transfer portal giveth and the transfer portal taketh away.”

To start with the negative, football has already lost 21 players to the dreaded portal this year, according to 247Sports. The list includes impact players such as wide receiver Jamire Calvin, safety Tyrese Ross, cornerback Ayden Hector and kicker Blake Mazza.

These are guys who were going to have a legitimate impact. Calvin ranked third on the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 2020. The senior would have provided much stability for a relatively fresh and up-in-the-air quarterback room.

As a sophomore, Ross did not play as much as he did his freshman season at safety. That freshman season showed Ross’ potential though, as he racked up 33 tackles and a forced fumble in ten games.

Hector was one of only two Cougars to grab an interception and lead the team with two fumble recoveries. His nose for the ball and overall ability was close to unmatched by anyone else on his unit.

Mazza is one of the most proficient kickers in program history. In 2019, he scored the second-most points by a WSU player. His 115 points were just one point behind Drew Dunning’s 2003 season. Additionally, Mazza will leave WSU sitting seventh in career scoring for WSU with 229 points. Drew Dunning also leads that record with 336 points.

On the hardwood, the Cougars lost point guard Myles Warren and forwards Brandton Chatfield and Aljaz Kunc, according to 247Sports.

Warren and Chatfield averaged 3.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and an assist per game. The two did not rack up a ton of minutes this season, only accumulating 216 together.

Kunc is a massive loss. The junior was the fifth-best scorer and third-best rebounder on the team. When looking at offensive and defensive win shares, Kunc comes third and sixth on the team, respectively. Having two more seasons of the Slovenian could have been huge for the Cougars in taking that next step as a program.

While the transfer portal has ripped some hearts out of Cougar fans, it has also inspired hope among the fan base.

Four football players have decides to transfer into WSU’s program. While that number is not nearly as large as the 21 who left, they could very well be more important.

The list includes Michigan State’s Chris Jackson, TCU’s Ben Wilson, Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano and, most recently, Wisconsin’s Nakia Watson.

Jackson came out of high school as a three-star player. In two seasons with the Spartans, the cornerback made nine appearances in the green and white, while picking up 10 tackles and two tackles for a loss.

Wilson is an in-state product who graduated from Sumner High School. During his time with the Horned Frogs, the linebacker picked up 34 tackles, a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery in 29 appearances in purple.

Guarantano might be the biggest pick up the Cougars could have hoped for. Coming out of high school, Guarantano was a four-star quarterback. That rating would have him as the second-best WSU recruit since 2000, according to 247 Sports, trailing just Michael Bumpus.

Guarantano had a tough season with the Volunteers last year, has shown his potential in prior seasons. In 41 games in Knoxville, Guarantano racked up a completion percentage north of 60 percent, over 6,000 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns and just 17 interceptions.

His addition to the team opens the door to a major quarterback battle between he, Jayden de Laura, Cammon Cooper and Xavier Ward.

Finally, the newest addition to the Cougars roster is junior running back Watson from the Wisconsin Badgers. Watson came out of high school as a three-star, 21st ranked running back. Since then, he has recorded over 500 rushing yards for a 4.1 yard per carry average and five touchdowns in 16 games.

As of now, basketball has not brought any transfers in. But the offseason is just beginning, so there is plenty of time for that to change.

All in all, the transfer portal has taken some players from WSU and brought in some other players.. That is the nature of the new college sports landscape. It all depends on how the Cougars can adapt to the situation and make the most of the moving pieces.