The transfer portal burst onto the college football scene in the 2019 offseason as it seemed not a day in the early spring went by without another player putting their name in the mysterious portal.
A portal that was supposed to be secretive, only open to the coaches and players, a private space in order to better their student-athlete experience, to give more power and freedom to the student rather than the coaches and the conferences on the transfer process.
And the players took these freedoms and all of a sudden, the transfer portal was the most talked about thing in the 2019 offseason.
According to 24/7Sports, who has compiled the largest and most accurate list of players who’ve entered the portal, Penn State saw 21 players enter the portal, the most in the Big Ten, but just how did this impact the Nittany Lions and what does it sat about this team?
“It definitely stinks,” Pat Freiermuth said. “Some of the guys were great leaders and great guys and some of my friends but they have to do what’s best for them.
“I’m going to support them either way. I just think at the end of the day they have to do what’s best for them and wherever they go, wherever they go.”
The players who left Penn State ended up at a large variety of schools, which leaves the question of if the decision to transfer for those 16 players was the right one.
Was it the best decision for them?
16 of Penn State’s 21 players who entered the portal have committed to another school and won’t be with the Nittany Lions in the upcoming season.
Seven players ended up making a “lateral” transfer and will be playing for a team in a Power 5 conference next season.
One player, Brelin Faison Walden, will be joining an independent program in Charlotte.
Three more players will be joining Group of 5 schools, meaning 11 of the 16 players from Penn State who transferred are going to be playing football at an FBS school next season.
This means that only five players have dropped to the FCS level.
But not all the players who entered the portal left or have even found homes for the upcoming season.
According to 24/7Sports, Irvin Charles, Brandon Clark and Jabari Butler are still uncommitted for the 2019 season.
Two players, Cam Sullivan-Brown and Lamont Wade both entered the portal and decided to come back to Penn State.
It also wasn’t all negative for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State picked up tewo players from the portal in Weston Carr and Jordan Stout
At the end of the day, nobody will know if the decision to transfer for the players was a good one except for them.
Players transfer for different reasons and the question of it being a good decision is a personal one and one that the public can’t question or scrutinize.
This amount of change has to impact a locker room, especially when players like Tommy Stevens, Juwan Johnson, Manny Bowen and Zech McPhearson are leaving.
Overall, most of the 21 players who entered the portal and the 16 who did leave the program weren’t going to see much playing time this season.
But Tommy Stevens leaving is a sizeable loss as the Nittany Lions lost their only quarterback with major game experience.
Penn State also lost four wide receivers to the portal with Johnson and Brandon Polk being the big names who left.
A big part of the portal for Penn State is older, veteran players leaving in order to find playing time elsewhere as James Franklin and company continue to recruit better and more college ready players.
But according to Justin Shorter, despite the losses, the portal hasn’t harmed the locker room, in fact its only improved the continuity.
“I feel like the transfer portal, people leaving, people coming back has had me step up and just grow into one of the big guys,” Shorter said. “It still feels the same but I feel like everyone just got so much closer honestly.”
This attitude is something that Penn State needs to continue to have moving forward as it’s becoming increasingly clear that the transfer portal is something that’s only going to grow, the number of players entering their names is only going to get bigger in the coming years.
Free agency is coming to college football and how teams handle the change is going to play an important role in the next couple years in college football.
But at the end of the day, Penn State isn’t concerned about the portal, whose names are in it, or any of the rumors. They are concerned about the players on the roster and what it will take to take that next step and have a successful season.
“I hope the best for them but to be honest, we are worried about Penn State right now and we’ve got to worry about what we’ve got to do this season to be successful,” Freiermuth said.