National Signing Day has lost its luster after transfer portal makes recruiting a year-round job

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Recruiting is a 24/7/365 gig in the new age of college sports, TCU football coach Sonny Dykes said. (The Associated Press/LM Otero).





By Jeff Wilson
Frogs Today senior writer

FORT WORTH — TCU brought in only four new recruits Wednesday on the once-ballyhooed National Signing Day, which only a few years ago was the day college football programs would address their futures with a large group of mostly high school players.

An 11th-hour flip to another school could put a serious dent in depth at a need positions, and teams would be left with no recruiting recourse for 365 days.

Now, of course, the transfer portal has changed how teams recruit. In TCU’s case, coach Sonny Dykes and staff kept their numbers low so that they could have more scholarships available to address their remaining needs all the way until fall camp begins.

The Horned Frogs have added 22 players since Dykes was hired in late November to replace Gary Patterson, and said the Frogs could add as many as 10 more from the portal before their Sept. 2 season opener at Colorado.

“The first Wednesday in February is much different now than it used,” Dykes said. “The way that things exist these days, recruiting is really year-round. We signed a big group in December, we added nine players over the break, and have signed [four] more as of today. So we’ve got a lot of new faces. We expect to have more as we transition into next fall.”

The Frogs added on National Signing Day — four-star wide receiver DJ Allen, from Gladewater High School; defensive lineman Connor Lingren, from College Station HS; cornerback Ronald Lewis from New Orleans Warren Easton HS; and defensive lineman Lwal Uguak, a transfer from Connecticut.

Uguak is the eighth player from the portal who has signed a scholarship agreement. TCU has also landed two junior-college transfers and signed nine players in December during the early signing period.

TCU has signed six defensive linemen, an area that was hit hard by players entering the portal. Chief among them was All-Big 12 defensive end Ochaun Mathis.

“Every single day, for the rest of my tenure at TCU, we’re going to be trying to add an defensive lineman or a corner or somebody like that,” Dykes said. “We’re never going to be satisfied with those guys. It’s just not the way it works.”

The next wave of recruits could come following spring practices. The coaching staff will have a better handle on players already in the program and where needs either emerge or still exist.

One could be at quarterback, a position where players in the portal reached out to TCU based on the coaching staff’s previous success with transfer QBs (Nick Foles, Davis Webb, Shane Buechele). Dykes expects TCU will have five or six quarterbacks this spring, including incumbent starter Max Duggan and incoming freshman Josh Hoover, but said there could be a few who switch positions.

The transfer portal should fill up with QBs who slid down depth charts around the country.

“We’ll be able to go through spring ball and see what we have that position and then assess it at that point,” Dykes said. “I think we all know there’s going to be a lot of really good, quality quarterbacks that are going to lose a starting job this spring. They’re going to go in the portal. So this quarterback stuff will start all over again. My guess is there’ll be a higher number that go in May than there was in December.”

That means more phone calls to recruits and more on-campus visits.

That’s recruiting these days.

“It just never stops,” Dykes said.

Jeff Wilson,

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