You’ve probably read this on social media countless times: “The portal is killing high school recruiting.” I see it practically every third or fourth day, especially at this time of year.
Look, I’m not a huge transfer portal fan. I believe there are serious flaws – some unforeseen, some not – that need to be addressed. However, the idea that the portal is killing high school recruiting is a preposterous fantasy. It’s sort of like how people say “RIP America” every four years when their preferred candidate doesn’t win the presidency. We’re still here, ain’t we?
First, the vast majority of college recruiting classes were signed from high school. If the portal was “killing high school recruiting,” this would not be the case; in fact, high school recruiting is very much alive. On its own, this fact disproves the point completely.
Second, this fantasy depends on what you believe the purpose of recruiting should be. If you believe recruiting is to build your roster with good players to beat better teams, the portal is not killing high school recruiting; it’s acquiring just a couple of more players who can fill urgent needs on a roster that an 18-year-old can’t fill right now. If you believe recruiting is to give impressionable high school seniors free rides and free money without any obligations to the program, then, of course, you believe the portal is killing recruiting. College programs define recruiting in the former terms, not the latter terms.
Third, and this is the tough truth, high school recruiting is killing high school recruiting. How so?
Many players are in the portal because they’re looking for greener pastures that likely won’t exist for the vast majority of them. Many players are in the portal are there because they overcommitted to the school they originally signed to. They outkicked their coverage, like they’d do with a woman.
Another way high school recruiting is killing itself is by the actions, choices, and attitudes of the players themselves. Nowadays you see top prospects with a million offers posting “top 15” team graphics, then “top 5” graphics before finally arriving at a decision. Why would a college program want to recruit that guy when he can find someone who will say “yes” in the portal almost immediately? Or at the U.S. All American Bowl, you’ll see three hats laying out on a table with a player’s hand going back and forth from hat to hat as they announce their college decision. While it may be good for the team he chose, imagine being the two teams he rejected: they just got told to go screw themselves on national television. How do you think that is going to affect those college coaches’ perceptions of this generation?
High school prospects are also not listening to their high school coaches, who are their #1 ally when it comes to this process. Instead, they are hiring street agents and hype men who want nothing more than to take credit for their success, and their money. College coaches will always, always, always have conversations with the high school head coach before giving a committable scholarship to a player.
High school recruiting is doing more to kill itself than the portal ever will. I believe it’s long past time for a moment of introspection from all the high school players who are whining nonstop about the portal.