ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Eight members of the UAlbany football team have entered their names into the transfer portal, including six graduate students and two undergrads, according to head coach Greg Gattuso.
“I’m not mad. I’m disappointed,” said Gattuso of the flurry of transfers leaving his program. “I hate losing some of our guys because I really like them and I care about them. They pretty much all the guys in good standing that went into the portal came in and spoke to me. Didn’t ask my advice on it, but I wouldn’t expect them to. I think that’s a family decision and a personal decision.”
Between the one-year transfer exemption rule change and the added year of NCAA eligibility due to COVID-19, Gattuso said it’s “a perfect storm” for the movement between programs.
On November 30, defensive end Jared Verse announced the decision to enter the transfer portal and has since received interest from dozens of teams within every Power 5 conference and then some.
“Every kid’s going to look at that and think, ‘Wow, I can do that too,’ but that’s not the case,” said Gattuso, adding that Verse is a force and can compete at a higher level. Like quarterback Jeff Undercuffler, who also entered the transfer portal, UAlbany was the only school to offer Verse out of high school. Future “hidden gems,” as Gattuso calls them, might be negatively impacted going forward with the number of players in the portal.
The recruiting game has changed. Coaches can access game tape at comparable levels and know which athletes can handle the college academics before taking the same risks they once did. Gattuso called the ability to build his program through transfers a “silver lining” of the portal, and one his staff has to adapt to in order to stay competitive.
The Great Danes were 2-9 last season, which might play into the flurry of UAlbany transfers, but Gattuso cautioned against making assumptions.
“We have a lot of numbers in there, but there’s a group of guys in there, walk-ons that are out of state that can go home and go to school cheaper. We have kids that couldn’t get into a grad program here that have to look somewhere else if they want to get into a grad program,” said Gattuso. “There’s all these different factors and everybody kind of lumps it in to like, ‘these kids aren’t happy,’ or ‘this kid isn’t this,’ but I just don’t feel that with my guys.”
Safety-turned-linebacker Joe Casale of Troy, New York announced his commitment to Robert Morris University this week. Colonials head coach Bernard Clark and defensive coordinator Dave Plungas are both former UAlbany assistants.
Mazon Walker also received an offer from Robert Morris University, but hasn’t announced where he’s headed next year.