The NCAA’s decision last June to relax transfer restrictions for football players and participants in other sports has created a swirl of offseason activity in many programs, particularly Penn State football.
Since the end of the regular season, 11 members of the Nittany Lions’ roster have entered the NCAA’s national transfer database, also called a transfer portal, which allows players to be contacted by coaches of other programs while not having to ask for permission to transfer from their current school.
A 12th player, who has removed his name from the transfer portal, was sophomore safety Lamont Wade, who announced Sunday on Twitter that he was staying at Penn State.
Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin had no comment Monday, according to a spokeswoman for the program, but he certainly will be asked about the topic when he meets the media on Feb. 6, the next national signing day.
According to figure compiled by Lions247, the transfers and the team’s five departures for the NFL draft reduce Penn State’s scholarship number to 73, well under the NCAA maximum of 85 for FBS programs. That number will grow with those signing letters of intent next week.
Under the new transfer rules, which were adopted by the NCAA Division I Council and took effect last October, a student-athlete informs his or her current school of the desire to transfer. The school then must enter the student’s name in the national database within two business days.
The transfer portal had 152 names as of Monday, according to 247Sports, with 98 listed as undecided.
The activity at Penn State began after its final regular-season game against Maryland when freshman defensive back Isaiah Humphries, who sat out the entire 2018 season as a redshirt, announced he would transfer. He eventually chose California.
Much of the transfer activity took place this month, beginning with wide receiver Juwan Johnson (Glassboro High), perhaps the most accomplished of the departing players. Johnson struggled last season with dropped passes and missed three games with an injury, seeing his production drop to 25 catches and 352 receiving yards from 54 and 701 in 2017.
Johnson, who received his degree last month, did not give a reason why he was leaving in a Jan. 11 Instagram post other than to say, “After talks with God, my family, and my closest ones, I’ve decided not to play my final season at Penn State University.”
Johnson, like many of those leaving Penn State, will be a graduate transfer at his new school, meaning he will not have to sit out the 2019 season.
A surprising transfer is defensive end Torrence Brown, who plans to revive his career at Southern Mississippi. Brown began the 2017 season as a starter, suffered a serious injury in Week 3 and hasn’t played since. He announced last August that he was finished with football but remained around the program to help the defensive linemen.
“I’ve been through so much but I’m a firm believer that God gives the hardest battles to his toughest soldiers,” Brown said last Tuesday on Twitter when he announced his transfer.
Brown will be closer to his Tuscaloosa, Ala., home next season, which is the case with several transfers. Tight end Danny Dalton (Marshfield, Mass.) is moving on to Boston College. Linebacker Jarvis Miller (Suffield, Conn.) is headed to Massachusetts. Linebacker Dae’Lun Darien (Baltimore) will play next season at Delaware.
The only transfer besides Johnson and Brown who had started a game at Penn State was wide receiver Brandon Polk, who had 10 career starts and 27 receptions.
Wade, who was shifted from cornerback to safety after signing with the Lions as a five-star recruit out of Clairton High School, is considered to have an excellent chance to succeed Nick Scott at that position next season.