How good are the players in the transfer portal?

And what position do they play?

5-minute read on transfer portal stats

The NCAA Transfer Portal has emerged as a dynamic and expanding landscape for college football. Each year, approximately 8,000 student-athletes from diverse backgrounds enter the portal. They have the aim of securing a spot on a new team. Keeping track of the evolving trends and factors that shape this ecosystem – such as the timing and destination of entries – is essential for anyone interested in the college football transfer market. Additionally, gaining insights into the quality of players entering the transfer portal can prove invaluable. AthLinkd aims to shed light on this aspect of the transfer portal by examining transfer portal stats.

All results presented in this article are drawn from AthLinkd’s 2022 transfer portal database.

transfer portal stats

How can we measure transfer value?

College Football’s Transfer Portal Stats Analyzed: 2023

It is important to use a key point of measurement for evaluating the value of a transfer player. AthLinkd has developed the AthLinkd Transfer Indicator (ATI), which is a proprietary and unbiased formula designed to accurately assess the significance of any player in the transfer portal.

This formula takes into account a range of factors. This includes the player’s collegiate experience, remaining eligibility, positional priority, high school recruit grade, program prestige, and other relevant criteria. It is worth noting that every entry, whether FBS or D3, is evaluated using the same formula to ensure consistency and fairness.

Understanding how the ATI works is simple. It is rated on a 1-100 scale, similar to other well-known recruiting rankings. A rating of 97+ is considered a five-star transfer player, while 89+ is classified as a four-star transfer player. A rating of 79+ indicates a three-star transfer player, 67+ a two-star transfer player, and 53+ a one-star transfer player. Anything less than 53 is considered NR or not ranked.

A player’s ATI is directly correlated with the division they are expected to sign with. For example, P5 transfers typically average around 85 and G5 transfers around 76. FCS transfers are around 67, D2 transfers around 57, and D3 transfers around 47.

Analyzing the trends in ATI and transfer destinations has revealed some interesting insights. These trends have been established and validated by real-world data and can provide valuable guidance for anyone interested in the college football transfer market.

How good are the players in the portal?

College Football’s Transfer Portal Stats Analyzed: 2023

In terms of the breakdown of transfer players by star rating, 0.4% of transfers are five-stars. This is followed by 2% four-stars, 14% three-stars, 33% two-stars, 36% one-stars, and 15% non-ranked transfers. These players enter the portal at consistent levels throughout the year relative to the overall rate.

The success rate of finding a new school correlates with a player’s ATI rating. 100% of five-star transfers found a new school. This is followed by 84% of four-star transfers, 71% of three-star transfers, 55% of two-star transfers, 43% of one-star transfers, and 32% of non-ranked transfers.

In terms of where successful transfers ended up, 100% of five-star transfers went to FBS (88% to P5), while 89% of four-star transfers went to FBS (63% to P5 and 6% to JUCO). Three-star transfers were nearly split evenly between P5, G5, and FCS, with some outliers going to D2 or JUCO. Meanwhile, 40% of two-star transfers signed with FCS, with the remaining 60% spread out among FBS, D2, and non-NCAA schools. FCS and D2 combined to sign over 60% of one-star transfers, with the remaining players being spread out evenly across five different divisions. The distribution was very similar for non-ranked transfers as well.


What positions enter the portal?

College Football’s Transfer Portal Stats Analyzed: 2023

One important factor in evaluating transfers in the NCAA Transfer Portal is their position. Each year, roughly 8% of transfers are quarterbacks (~600). This is followed by 9% being running backs (~700), 18% are wide receivers (~1400), 5% are tight ends (~400), 10% are offensive linemen (~800), 13% are defensive linemen (~1000), 12% are linebackers (~950), 20% are defensive backs (~1600), and 5% are specialists (~400).

The success rate of each position varies significantly, offering insight into the different factors that college coaches consider when recruiting from the transfer portal. Offensive linemen have the highest success rate, with over 50% successfully finding a new school. Tight ends, quarterbacks, and defensive linemen have success rates in the mid 40% range. Wide receivers, defensive backs, and linebackers see lower success rates in the upper 30%, while running backs and specialists have success rates closer to 30%.

In addition to position, height and weight also play a key role in a transfer’s success rate. On average, successful transfer signees have a median height up to two inches taller than the median height of transfers at that position as a whole. Similarly, successful transfers tend to weigh up to 30 pounds more than the median weight of their position.

What position has the most value?

College Football’s Transfer Portal Stats Analyzed: 2023

Percentages can sometimes be misleading, as they don’t always tell the whole story. While offensive linemen may have the highest success rate in finding a new school, they don’t necessarily hold the most overall value in the transfer portal. In fact, nearly 40% of the transfer value in the portal comes from the defensive back and wide receiver positions, with defensive linemen, linebackers, and offensive linemen all hovering around 10% each. The remaining positions make up only 5-8% of the total value.

The amount of value available for college football players is quite impressive across all positions. While certain positions may be more heavily recruited than others, players at any position have a chance to find new schools throughout the year. This is great news for recruiters, but it also means that the recruitment process for transfers, as well as high school and JUCO players, is incredibly competitive.

It is important for players, coaches, and administrators to understand the transfer portal statistics. Even for fans, who view the sport as entertainment, knowing the truth can be valuable. Based on the 2022 dataset, the transfer portal holds a large amount of value per ATI. It is where future NFL draft picks, FCS/D2 All-Americans, and thousands of talented players are signed every year. The value of each position should also be considered as it can affect a player’s probability of finding a new school.

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