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Longhorns on Portal Watch This Spring

Updated: Mar 16

Executive Summary

Discover the Texas Longhorns Spring Portal Watch 2024! Explore potential transfer candidates based on the Adjusted Rating system. Hook 'Em!


Adj Rate

In January, we introduced you to the Adjusted Rating System (LINK) as a tool to track how both genetics (as reflected in a prospect's talent in their initial recruiting rating) and environment (the ability of a program to help a player develop) work together to define a college football player's performance on the field. It would help you to understand the rest of this by reading this introduction first.


2024 Texas Longhorns Depth Chart

This article will be a follow-up to the Pre-Spring Depth Charts published yesterday here. Please click on the link or the picture to the right.


The rest of this discussion will not make much sense without understanding these two articles.




We also applied the Adjusted Rating system to analyze the Texas roster and general NCAA on several fronts.


The Adjusted Rating simple method is focused on addressing what is the CURRENT talent level of players as compared to each other who are at different points of their development and experience.


Today, we will look at the Longhorns who are most likely to enter the Transfer Portal when the Portal window opens after spring practices are over- My Portal Watch List. These are NOT players I am saying WILL enter the portal or players that I want to enter the portal. These are the Texas players that I THINK are most likely to enter the portal based on the factors we will discuss. As the programs overall talent has improved it is hard to think of any of the current Longhorns needing to hit the portal. The Horns are about to experience first world college football issues.


What are the factors that lead a player to enter the transfer portal? I put them in the order of portal enablement in my mind:

  • The coaching staff encourages a player to enter the portal. This leads to an uncomfortable discussion about the realities of scholarships being yearly in nature. The complexities of NIL contracts may also impact here. I put this factor at 50% which is probably too low. If the coach wants you to portal, I think you portal.

  • Players that have been passed up on the depth chart by younger and at least perceived more talented players. This would include incoming freshman and, in the fall, the signed recruits. The Adjusted Rating depth chart will be a great tool to highlight potential cases of this. I put this factor at 30%.

  • Players that are likely not satisfied with the historical playing time opportunities that already had or maybe more precisely not had previously. I put this factor at 25%.

  • The team adds other players from the portal at the player's position. I put this factor at 25%.

  • Head Coach or position coach leaves- for Texas this might mean we should consider the DT and LB closely. I put this factor at 20% for the position coach. It might be low.

  • A player just does not vibe with the coach as expected. A player may not feel like the "fit" is right. I put this factor at 20%.

  • Significant Injuries have put player behind others. Once a player is seen as unreliable due to injuries, they may get buried due to their unavailability. I put this factor at 20%.


Add the factors together and you get a probability a player will enter the portal. Yes, these numbers add up to more than 100%. One this is a work in progress as a scale. Two, I THINK a score over 100% may mean that player is overdue to go to the portal. Maybe they should have already left. Just an idea.


The spring game may highlight some of these potential opportunities as well. The purpose of today is to give us things to monitor during spring workouts and see in the spring game.


Portal Watch Criteria Applied to 2023

Here are the players who entered the portal after/ during the 2023 season and how they would be rated on the factors I listed.

2023 Longhorns to the Portal

If I was not sure on a factor, I labeled it maybe ("M") and counted half of the factor.


Neyor was the highest on this analysis, and Murphy was the lowest.


I think the application of these factors to the 2023 class shows the range of players we should be considering.

I do want to repeat that others have provided great content in this space as well.

Please consider subscribing to these folks if you have not already done so.


In reviewing the 2023 Portal Players I think there a few other rules to consider including:

  • Is a player projected to be a starter? If so, I say it is a -50% factor.

  • Notice most of the transfers are players entering their fourth year or later. I will make 4-year plus players a 25% factor.

  • There was not a 2-year player in the Texas Portal. That could change with all of the other factors, but I will make 2-year or less players a -25% factor.


My exercise for the portal watch will be to apply the factors above and see who should be on the list.


My depth chart is not exactly the same as the others. Most of the other writers in this space have contacts and rely on tape and reports. I am bringing you DATA that you can compare- class designation, snaps, and the Adjusted Rating.


Classes

You will definitely want to understand the formatting to the left for this exercise. I should explain the class nomenclature that I am using with Jake Majors as the example.





Majors- 53RS Sr means

  • he is playing in his 5th year (2020-2024)

  • he has 3 previous years of non-redshirted experience (2021-2023)

  • he has had a red shirt season (2020)

  • he will be classified as a senior this year.


Let me know if I got any of these wrong. The COVID years make this exercise more of a challenge than you might expect.

Here is the full Adjusted Ratings Depth Chart that we will refer to as we work through the list of Portal Watch criteria.


Texas Longhorns Football Full Depth Chart

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Now let's continue.



Portal Watch Criteria Applied to the 2024 Returning Roster


The coaching staff encourages a player to enter the portal.


Obviously, there is no way to know who the coaching staff would be encouraging to transfer. Generally, I guessed those at the lower end of the Adjusted Rating scale might be the ones. I labeled those "M" for maybe.


Players that have been passed up on the depth chart by younger and at least perceived more talented players. 


I went through the depth chart and highlighted the players who are likely falling behind younger players.


Players that are likely not satisfied with the historical playing time opportunities.


I estimated that the players with less than 60 snaps are likely dissatisfied.


The team adds other players from the portal at the player's position.


The Longhorns added three WR, a TE, a DT, an Edge, a LB, and a S. The players at these positions behind these players are marked.


Head Coach or position coach leaves- DT/ LB


I have marked the players at these positions.

Defensive Takles

Several of the DT recruits came to Texas to be developed by Bo Davis. Monitor the feedback and what we are hearing about Kenny Baker. It is probably too early to tell right now.

Linebackers

Jeff Choate left for a head coaching job and the Longhorns replaced him with the highly regarded former Arizona DC Johnny Nansen. I have more confidence that the LBs stay unless Nansen evaluates them to not be a fit.


A player just does not vibe with the coach as expected.


I don't have the data to know this.


Significant Injuries have put player behind others.


I think the actual injuries will be clearer as we start Spring Practices.


I then marked the starters, four-year, and the two-year players per the secondary factors I developed.


Here is the 2024 roster of returning players sorted by the likelihood of who needs to step up in spring practice to change their status or who is most likely to transfer.

First, I want to reiterate. I love all of the Texas Longhorns players as a fan. I want all of them to ball out and have no one in a position to transfer. I also know that no matter what I write or say that the Texas roster is currently at 89 players and that at least four NEED to transfer out.


I suspect Texas might add at least 2 more after spring practice. That means 6 need to transfer out. I have tried to develop a framework here to illustrate who is most LIKELY to transfer.


I am rooting for all of these players to prove me wrong and be named starters by absolutely nailing it this spring. PLEASE guys make it happen.


I think the top 6 players on this list are most at risk for Texas to lose to the Transfer Portal. All 6 are in the 3rd plus year and had less than 60 snaps in 2023.

  • Juan Davis- This spring Davis NEEDS to step up or he may be searching for another opportunity. I think his portal watch is high.

  • Max Merrill- Max has been buried on the offensive line for years. I have seen reports that he is an excellent student. Perhaps he just gives up an athletic scholarship and is supplemented by an academic scholarship and Pancake Factory money. This leads to an entire discussion of NIL in place of scholarships as a new take on preferred walk-ons. It is possible others in this group meet that criteria too.

  • Aaron Bryant- Aaron needs to have a step-up spring. Hills and Bryant are competing for third string NT, but Hills won't be on campus until this summer. If Bryant does not show progress this spring, I suspect he will enter the portal.

  • Austin Jordan- Austin is another third-year player who has gotten limited reps (21 snaps in 2023) in the DB group. There have been some good reports on Jordan. I think he is buried but he can prove me wrong.

  • Zac Swanson- Zac has 18 snaps at DT in two seasons and only ONE on defense in 2023. Can January overtake him this spring? If so, he might be gone too. I suspect the Horns will be trying to get a DT in the portal to come in. If that happens it is hard to see Swanson getting much PT.

  • Savion Red- The coaching staff reportedly LOVES Red. He was generally productive when playing in his 44 snaps in 2023. I think at best Red is the fourth string RB and at worst the sixth string RB. Choice continues to bring in great RB prospects. Red may shine better elsewhere.


Tell me who you all think I got wrong here, AND tell me who you think is in your 6-portal half dozen instead of mine.


Beyond these first six, I do not believe the next few will transfer. Walton, Shannon, and Randle are all second-year players who were red shirts last year.


Finkley and Tapp might be the next two most likely after the first six, but I really doubt either is likely. Maybe they get an NIL deal instead of the athletic scholarship.


Clearly the most controversial to even have on this list are the following. All are not real candidates, and the score goes below the 2023 transfer threshold.

  • Helm is not an option to transfer. HE could be the starter at TE. He will at least be a critical rotation player.

  • Taaffe is likely a team leader and a complete team guy. He is not likely to transfer. He is likely a second-string safety. Will Taaffe become a grad assistant in the next 3 years? I think it is entirely possible. He bleeds burnt orange.

  • Blackshire is just arriving. I would be shocked if he leaves. I think he will be a part time starter depending on defensive alignment.



Let me finish by restating what I said at the start. The Texas roster has significantly improved over the past few years. Players we are even considering for the portal now may have been starting four years ago. The Longhorns on Portal Watch this Spring are some really good players.


As Always, Hook 'Em!

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