Last week saw Ohio State receive some well-received news in Columbus when quarterback transfer Justin Fields was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Of course, Fields is hardly alone this year in receiving immediate eligibility from the NCAA, and there could still be more on the way. According to a report from 247 Sports, a total of 51 out of 64 players appealing for immediate eligibility form the NCAA have won their appeal.
The data for those figures may be adjusted quickly as more players hope to receive immediate eligibility from the NCAA after switching schools; the rules have been relaxed to be more player-friendly. Among those names include Miami quarterback Tate Martell and Texas wide receiver Bru McCoy. Martell transferred to Miami from Ohio State after Fields made his way from Georgia to Ohio State. His appeal for eligibility this fall would seemingly be more groundbreaking than the Fields situation considering the backstory for Fields leaving Georgia and Martell simply looking for a better chance to be the starter on the field. If Martell is given a chance to play this fall, it would be evidence that the system has definitely changed the game in college football. It would open the doors to as close to free agency as possible, a growing concern for many as more and more players seem to be transferring earlier and earlier in their college careers.
Take McCoy for another example. McCoy has yet to play a single down of college football but has already transferred from USC to Texas just in the last couple of months after committing to the Trojans in the most recent recruiting cycle. After USC lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to a head coaching job in the NFL, McCoy decided he would look for another place to play football shortly after signing with USC in the early signing period. McCoy signed with Texas but technically falls under the category of a transferring player. It is expected by many McCoy will eventually be ruled eligible for the 2019 season given the circumstances.
The typical transfer rule still is in play with players having to sit out a season before being ruled eligible to play again, with the exception of graduate transfers getting immediate eligibility. Hardship waivers have long existed to allow for possible immediate eligibility for players, but the approval of waivers and appeals is beginning to be more frequent. That’s a good thing for players, and a growing headache for coaches.
With this trend continuing to grow, it won’t be long before the NCAA takes a look at what is going on to determine if any refinements to the rules need to be implemented.
And then there were two.
Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami. Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.
“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”
A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas. Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.
With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE). Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.
A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”
Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.
Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.
Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.
The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.
Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.
Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.
Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.
Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.
Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.
Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.