CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Let the portal madness begin. The college football transfer portal officially opened on Monday with thousands of players expected to enter their name into the open market, looking for a new team. New NCAA rules this year created a transfer portal window from Dec. 5 to Jan. 18, with a separate window for players to officially go into the portal in May. Instead of being able to freely enter their name into the portal at anytime, now players are limited to those two windows to officially be recruited by other schools.
Illinois has only had two scholarship players announce their intent to transfer, with DD Snyder and Daniel Edwards both posting on social media they are reopening their recruitment. Neither player suited up in a game for the Illini in their two years with the program, so the moves are not a huge surprise.
Illinois head coach Bret Bielema says he feels good about where his program is at, taking an honest and open approach with his players about their decision to stay or go, adding he doesn’t expect a lot of players to depart this offseason for another school.
“I think we do a good enough opportunity or do enough good things in our building that kids don’t want to leave,” Bielema said on Sunday during the team’s ReliaQuest Bowl bid press conference. “We had a couple kids leave last year in our conference and their numbers weren’t near as productive as when they were here so I think there’s good examples of the grass isn’t always going to be greener.”
Bielema was referring to Donny Navarro and Daniel Barker, who transferred to Northwestern and Michigan State respectively, following last season. Neither the Wildcats or Spartans qualified for a bowl this season and both players saw dips in their on-field production.
Players leaving the program for another school likely won’t be as big of a concern in roster management terms for the Illini compared to guys who are making choices about whether to turn pro or return to school. Bielema said Sunday he expects 7-8 players from this year’s team to have decisions about their future.
Last year more than 3,000 players entered the transfer portal, according to an article from CBS Sports. Of those players who went looking for a new home, several hundred did not find a new place to play.