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Transfer Portal Has Been Net Positive For BYU Football

Despite the recent upheaval, overall, the transfer portal has yielded positive results for BYU.

Pittsburgh v Miami Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Many fans have wrung their hands at the idea of the transfer portal. It’s understandably uncomfortable. Their favorite program could lose their favorite player seemingly at the drop of a hat. It has become harder to grow attached to individual players, knowing loyalty is fleeting.

For BYU fans, they will be even more guarded since the abrupt departure of receiver Kody Epps.

However, despite all of that, the transfer portal has yielded overall positive results for BYU. They have come out on the positive side more than some other Power 5 programs (yes, BYU is now a Power 5 program).

Of course, losing guys like the Barrington brothers along the offensive line hurt badly. The secondary took a big hit with the departures of Gabe Jeudy-Lally, George Udo, and Dean Jones. Linebacker has been decimated, with Logan and Keenan Pili, and Tate Romney all leaving town. The fans definitely felt the sting of Logan Fano heading up the road to Utah after being a highly-touted recruit.

All that notwithstanding, the transfer portal seems to be a net positive for the BYU Cougars football program.

The transfer portal is now closed as of April 30. No new players can enter it. However, players have basically an unlimited time to find a new home once declaring. So, at this point, BYU should only be adding, not losing.

The biggest question mark when the season ended was, who is the quarterback for 2023? The depth chart at the time didn’t merit much confidence. It was likely between Jacob Conover and Cade Fennegan.

Thanks to the transfer portal, instead, the Cougars get to deploy a quarterback who has 32 starts against Power 5 teams under his belt at QB. A player who is a former team captain and one who has played for two premier programs in college football in USC and Pitt. Kedon Slovis is nothing less than a godsend for the BYU program.

Slovis has 9,973 passing yards, 68 touchdowns to his name, all as a quarterback for Power 5 programs. He has NFL size and a cannon arm to go with it. He very well could be the third BYU signal caller drafted in four years with a successful 2023 campaign under offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick.

This transfer class goes far beyond just finding an experienced quarterback.

First, they addressed the trenches several times. Wyatt Dawe, Jackson Cravens, and Isaiah Bagnah all could be instant starters along the defensive front. Under new defensive coordinator Jay Hill, BYU is looking to rebrand itself on defense. These players could instantly make that happen.

Another big get on defense was Hill’s former star at Weber State, Eddie Heckard. This is a cornerback that got NFL buzz after the 2022 season and is an FCS All-American. He instantly becomes BYU’s best defensive back.

Along the offensive side of the trenches, Weylin Lapuaho came from Utah State to compete for a starting spot at guard. Paul Maile came from Utah to compete along the interior too, maybe even as the starting center, where he started 12 games for the Utes last season.

One of the biggest gets for BYU all offseason was Caleb Etienne, who started at left tackle for now-conference rival Oklahoma State.

In regards to weapons for Slovis on offense, Aidan Robbins joined the fold after a 1,000-rushing-yard season at UNLV. He battled health issues during spring but he should be considered one of the top backs BYU has heading into summer and fall.

In immediate response to losing Epps at receiver, BYU nabbed Darius Lassiter from Eastern Michigan, where he caught 40 passes for 471 yards and four touchdowns. He has NFL size at the receiver position.

Slovis also wasn’t the only quarterback BYU scored. Jake Retzkaff was ranked the No. 1 quarterback in ESPN’s Junior College 50 for 2023 and No. 46 overall. He threw for 4,596 yards and 44 touchdowns at Riverside City College last season. He instantly becomes BYU’s most prolific passer after Slovis.

While yes, it hurts to watch players who played well and earned fans’ adoration donning the stretch Y helmet in Provo leave for other programs, the portal has generally been a positive for BYU. They were able to replace their experienced quarterback who is now headed to the NFL with another accomplished college gunslinger, one with perhaps even more NFL traits.

Overall, the transfer portal yielded a new starting quarterback, running back, one of their top three receivers, at least two new starters along the offensive line, and several new pieces to a rejuvenated defense.

BYU gets to change their defensive culture nearly overnight.

For those who think BYU is leaking oil with all these transfers, the Cougars are right in the middle as far as number of players who have left. According to 247 Sports, BYU has lost 21 players to the portal since the end of the regular season.

Consider Colorado, where they have seen 49 players leave the program since the end of the fall. Washington State has lost 29 players since December 5. 23 players have departed Oklahoma. Florida State is at 22.

Up the freeway, Utah has lost 17. Several PAC-12 programs have lost between 15-25 players. BYU is not an outlier.

247Sports’ rankings for “transfer class” ranks BYU at No. 20 in the country as far as talent added. The transfer portal era is not going anywhere. Thus far, the BYU coaching staff has weathered the storm well and replaced the departing talent with more, and in some cases, even better talent.