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Numbers show the transfer portal is very risky move for most college football players

The odds are against players in the NCAA transfer portal
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The introduction of the NCAA transfer portal has forever changed how college football teams create their rosters, and has given players more freedom to direct their careers.

But with that newfound freedom comes a lot of risk.

According to the official numbers out of the NCAA, entering the portal and trying your luck somewhere else is by no means a sure thing. In fact, almost half of the players who transfer don't find a new school to attend.

Ahead of the May 1 deadline for transfer players to compete in 2022-23, the NCAA revealed a massive amount of data from the transfer portal that covers the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

College football transfer portal: By the numbers

2020 offseason
Undergrad transfers: 587
Grad transfers: 309

2021 offseason
Undergrad transfers: 950
Grad transfers: 477

Clearly, the data shows increasing interest in the transfer portal. The numbers for 2022 are expected to show another sizable increase.

Most active months for transfers

As you would expect, December and January — the traditional end of the college football season and bowl postseason — see the most action.

Over December and January of the 2020-21 academic year, 985 players entered the transfer portal, compared to 483 in April and May, the second most-active time span. September and July are the least active months, with 197 players on the move combined in those months for 2020-21.

Overall success rate for transfers

When taking the total number of college transfers into consideration, only around five in 10 players are actually finding a new school to play for.

  • 54% reported enrolling at a new school
  • 41% have not found a new school, are still looking, transferred to a non-NCAA school, or left their sport completely
  • 59% of scholarship transfers found a scholarship at a new FBS school
  • 8% left their scholarships and became walk-ons at a new school
  • 33% of players remain without a destination
  • 18% of walk-ons that transferred found a scholarship at a new school
  • About one-third of FCS transfers land a scholarship at a new school
  • 36% of FCS transfers find a new school to sign with at all

Sport-by-sport numbers

In 2020, 10 percent of all FBS and FCS college football players entered the transfer portal. In 2021, that number grew to 12 percent for FCS and 16 percent for FBS.

That's a big enough number — 2,538 FBS players elected to transfer in 2021, the most of any college sport. But on a percentage basis, men's and women's basketball takes the crown: 22 percent of that women's players entered the transfer portal and 31 percent of men's players did the same.

Rowing holds the title for fewest transfers, at 2 percent.

You can see all the transfer portal data for college football and other sports here.

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Transfer tracker: Where college football's best players are going

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