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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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SMU football improves in the transfer portal ahead of ACC move

The college football season is long over, but spring signals the arrival of new student-athletes in the transfer portal.
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Tyler Lavine carries the ball across to the endzone at the home game against Navy in November 2023.

Since the transfer portal opened this offseason, SMU’s roster has added several star-studded recruits from schools such as the University of Oklahoma, the University of Miami, and the University of Oregon.

The transfer portal was introduced by the NCAA in 2018 as a way for student-athletes to streamline transferring to different athletic programs. Athletes are required to enter the portal within particular windows in time. While in the portal, they can commit to the program of their choosing, and become eligible for the following season.

“It’s important to give college athletes the opportunity to transfer and make it easier on them to find new opportunities if they felt like they made the wrong decision,” SMU Applied Physiology and Sport Management Adjunct Professor Kenneth Troupe said.

“But what I don’t like is that in football’s case, there seems to be a lot of kids making impulsive decisions just to try to search out playing time and not necessarily the best opportunity for their growth in their career long term. Teams find themselves now in a position where they have to be an expert in a new free agency world that they didn’t live in before and as you can see some schools are doing well some schools are not.”

Reasons for entering the transfer portal can vary. SMU has 11 outgoing players in the transfer portal. Despite this, 247 Sports ranks SMU’s transfer portal class seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference, scoring higher than schools like Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. The Mustangs improved in crucial positions such as the defensive line and wide receiver.

Now, SMU’s top recruit is Savion Byrd, a four-star offensive tackle from The University of Oklahoma.

“Savion’s really, really exciting to coach,” SMU offensive line coach Garin Justice said. “The attitude and the energy he brings, the way him and Nate Anderson both have just fit in with the guys, it’s been pretty seamless […] I’m excited about what he can do and what he can show.”

SMU is an alluring landing spot for transfer portal students. Firstly, the Mustangs put together an outstanding 2023 season, winning the American Athletic Conference Championship, finishing 11-3, and 22nd in the AP Poll. On top of that, SMU has been at the forefront of NIL efforts in college football. On3 ranked Pony Sports DTX as the 18th most ambitious NIL collective in the country.

“Even before the transfer portal I’ve really thought the best thing that SMU has done in the last 10 years or so it’s really flipped the switch on this Dallas first marketing campaign. Highlighting the fact that Dallas is home, SMU is here really kind of created the perfect storm,” Troupe said.

“So, when you think about transferring and the NIL money in general and what SMU has to offer, we’ve really done a great job with encouraging student-athletes to transfer from their original school back home to play in front of their home crowd and their family and friends.”

Bringing in top-tier transfers was crucial for SMU’s inaugural season in the ACC. Even after being a ranked program and winning the AAC championship in 2023, SMU is expected to finish no higher than seventh in the ACC, according to early 247 Sports power rankings.

In an interview with On the Pony Express, SMU head football coach Rhett Lashlee elaborated on the opportunity for team growth.

“I think we have a chance to build something special now,” he said. “We’re going to be realistic, I mean the last four schools that went into the Big 12 last year only won six games. It’s going to be a change, it’s going to be an adjustment, but I think we’re ready and everybody’s committed to that challenge.”

An SMU lineup constructed from returning starters, recruits, and transfer portal acquisitions will have the chance to prove themselves in a more competitive new conference. With Coach Lashlee back at the helm and star quarterback Preston Stone returning from injury, the Mustangs could prove early projections wrong in the coming season.

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