This offseason, the NCAA football transfer portal has been more active than ever. So naturally, Texas Tech has seen its share of defections. However, many of the players who have left Lubbock are finding that the grass may not necessarily be greener in other ports of call.
Thus far, 15 members of the 2023 roster have jumped into the portal. That's not that high of a number, though, when compared to other programs around the nation.
What's been telling has been that thus far, only seven have found new homes for 2024. Even more interesting is where the former Red Raiders have landed.
Texas Tech transfers are not landing at big-time programs
Of the seven Red Raiders to find a place at a new program this year, none have wound up at what one might consider a blue-blood program. What's more, many have committed to programs that Texas Tech fans perceive to be beneath the Red Raiders.
The two players who seem to have landed at the best program are QB Tyler Shough and offensive tackle Monroe Mills. Both have found refuge at Louisville, a program that played for the ACC championship this year and which just lost the Holiday Bowl to Southern California on Wednesday night.
While the Cardinals have to be pleased with a 10-3 record in the first year of head coach Jeff Brohm's reign, factors away from the football field could put Louisville in a less desirable situation than Texas Tech moving forward. With Florida State trying to leave the conference and challenging the league's media grant of rights, the future of the ACC is in jeopardy with many believing that a PAC-12-style mass exodus could spell the end of that league as well.
Now, none of that will impact Shough or Mills given that each will be long gone before any potential conference realignment impacts the Cardinals' program. Still, regardless of where Louisville eventually lands on the spinning wheel of conferences, to say that Shough and Mills jumped up to a better zip code in the college football hierarchy just isn't true. If anything, the duo made a lateral move.
Meanwhile, a quartet of former Texas Tech pass catchers each took a step down after leaving Joey McGuire's program. Jerand Bradley, the preseason All-Big 12 selection who massively disappointed this year, has committed to Boston College while Myles Price has found a home at Indiana. Boston College and Indiana? Could there be two more insignificant Power 5 college football programs in the nation?
After going 3-9 last fall, Boston College hadn't won more than six games in a season since 2018 and hasn't won eight games since 2009 until this fall. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers also went just 3-9 in 2023 and they haven't climbed past the modest six-win plateau since 2019.
As for Loic Fouonji, he can at least say that he landed in the S.E.C. However, committing to Vanderbilt is not quite the same as playing for Georgia, Tennessee, or Florida. Winning two games this year, the Commodores have not had a winning season since 2013 and are the laughingstock of their conference.
Then there is J.J. Sparkman. After catching two passes for nine yards this year as a junior, he's taken a scholarship offer from UTSA.
While the Roadrunners have become one of the better Group of 5 programs in America under head coach Jeff Traylor, playing in the American Athletic Conference is a large step down from competing in the Big 12.
As for the other Red Raiders to enter the portal, backup offensive lineman Landon Peterson has committed to North Texas and punter Brook Honore is going to ply his craft at Arkansas State next season. The rest of the Red Raiders looking for new places to play (players such as linebacker Jesiah Pierre, OL Jacoby Jackson, and WR Nehemiah Martinez) are still either sorting through their options or trying to scare up some interest, something that must be difficult in such a flooded marketplace.
What does it say that Texas Tech defectors are not highly-coveted?
Fair or not, in the world of recruiting, fans judge the quality of a player based largely on the options available to him. Just like in the world of high school dating, the better the options a guy has, the more valuable he is perceived to be.
If programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, or USC start lurking around your roster's stars, it's an indication that the players in your house are coveted by the best programs in the nation and that those programs believe your pieces can help put them over the top in the pursuit of a national championship.
No contender or title hopeful has taken a shot on any Red Raider transfer thus far and given that the best Red Raider exes in the portal have already found new homes, it doesn't appear that a big time program is going to open its arms for any Lubbock refugees this offseason. That likely wouldn't have been the case last year had Bradley entered the portal after the 2022 season.
After all, McGuire insinuated that Oklahoma illegally tempered with Bradley a year ago. That likely didn't happen this year because the Red Raiders simply didn't have the type of star power to bring the heavy hitters of the sport to come sniffing around the South Plains.
That's the takeaway. The talent in Lubbock just wasn't good enough to compete at the level that anyone associated with this program aspires to.
Thus, the departures that we've seen have been blessings rather than disasters. They've given Tech the chance to bring in players like WR Josh Kelly from Washington State, TE Jalin Conyers from Arizona State, and a host of offensive linemen all of whom are expected to be upgrades over what the Red Raiders had to rely on this fall.
Former NFL head coach Bill Parcells used to talk openly about constantly churning the bottom half of his roster in hopes of finding upgrades and that's now what programs in Texas Tech's neighborhood have to do every year. That's been the story of the offseason thus far and fortunately, it appears that McGuire has substantially improved the talent in his locker room.
That's an assessment we can make in large part because the players who have left haven't been highly sought after. In fact, most have had to settle for opportunities that many would agree are below what they had in hand when they were representing the Doube T.