Time for an outside review of WVU transfers? | WVU | West Virginia Mountaineers Sports Coverage
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Is it time for someone outside of West Virginia University’s athletics department to examine the reasons for the flood of football and basketball team transfers? -ball since last season?
With the latest defection from starting cornerback Nicktroy Fortune on Monday, the spotlight is once again on the football locker room. And a day after that latest potential transfer, the front yard of Bob Huggins’ basketball team has been decimated as Fairmont’s Jalen Bridges and legacy Isaiah Cottrell, son of former player Brian Lewin, are also entered the transfer portal.
This all comes less than three weeks after team manager Josh Chandler-Semedo, the center linebacker and football’s top tackler of the past year, decided to enter the transfer portal just weeks after surprising his coaching staff and teammates announcing that he would return for his super senior. season.
Admittedly, there was something of a failure in Coach Neal Brown’s efforts to create a constraining family atmosphere within his football team.
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Since October 6, 2021, no less than 20 players have registered on the portal.
Think about it for a moment. It’s like losing almost an entire offensive and defensive unit.
Interestingly, it’s split almost evenly with nine offensive players and 11 defensive players.
The hardest hit were defensive backs (4), linebacker (6) and wide receivers (4).
A number of players were counted on to be productive players in the coming season – cornerbacks Fortune, Daryl Porter and Jackie Matthews; linebackers Chandler-Semedo and VanDarius Cowan, wide receivers Isaiah Esdale, Sean Ryan and Winston Wright in particular.
Brown addressed the issues the transfer portal amplified during his pre-spring press conference.
“I’m not inherently against the transfer portal,” he said. “We’re going to take advantage of it and we’re going to lose guys, like everyone else in the country who decides to do business there. You will gain some and you will lose some.
WVU certainly lost more than it gained, but the exodus seems to have gained momentum.
Chandler-Semedo’s decision to leave was a headache, as he appeared to be heading to the NFL. It was seen as a boost for the defense when he announced he would be returning to WVU, then stunned everyone as he left.
Brown chose not to meet this face in public.
“I think he’s a good boy. I have nothing negative to say. I don’t think it’s helpful to myself or our program to come here and talk about the guys who left” , did he declare.
But fans are currently buying tickets for an attractive but challenging schedule and deserve an explanation as to why so many players are leaving. Given the number of players we were counting on at the start, the single explanation that they wanted more playing time doesn’t quite fit this situation.
Brown seems to understand, but apparently all they did had little more effect than a finger stuck in the dam.
“Roster management is so essential now, and it’s not just on the field – it’s in the locker room as well,” Brown said. “We just weren’t well placed after the bowling game, so we got to work.”
But the departure of Nicktroy Fortune is another thunderclap leaving big holes in the secondary.
“We’re going through the winter and all these young high school guys have made progress, but we have to see them play live football,” Brown said of the suddenly lean high school body.
It was a little different for Bob Huggins. He started the year with seven seniors – including two still eligible after this season – and eight with several years of eligibility remaining. The season went awry from the start of Big 12 play, losing back-to-back games twice and losing 14 of 15.
Two players – Seny N’diaye and Taj Thweatt – entered the portal during the season, then Bridges and Cottrell followed on Wednesday. That’s nine of the 15 players gone, with only Kedrian Johnson among the seniors announced to return.
Sean McNeil is also eligible to return but has yet to make a decision. The departures of Bridges and Cottrell are not a good selling point to bring him back.
Huggins enters this offseason with only five returning players: Kedrian and Kobe Johnson, Seth Wilson, Jamal King and James Okonkwo.
This group played just 1,155 minutes out of 6,600 minutes played by the entire squad last year – 17.5%. He scored just 259 points, just 11.5% of the team’s offensive production.
Huggins has four rookies, two from college and two from high school, and is currently scouring the country for immediate insider help for next season. McNeil’s return would be a huge boost to add experience, outside shooting and leadership, but there are certainly no guarantees there.
In football, Neal Brown indicated during his speech this spring that his team’s approach would be to make decisions on filling transfer portal holes after the 15 spring training and games. It would give him a better view of what was needed…but that was before Fortune decided to enter the portal.
“They will be another wave of important people in the transfer gate after spring practice,” he said. “Our thoughts were, ‘Let’s go through the spring and see.’ We can go out somewhere where we think we’re going to have a potential need, and someone can do better than what we really expected. But it could be, ‘Hey, they’re ready to be a backup, not a starter. Let’s go find a starter. That’s kind of the way we approach things.
However, the exodus has been disturbing enough to require an independent group to investigate whether it is simply the system as it is or whether internal adjustments need to be made to ensure the continuity of the main sporting forces in the league. ‘school.