Discover more from The Ypsilanti Eleven
Eastern Michigan lands commitment in former Troy, Missouri QB. Will Ben Bryant's playbook be more of a thing?
Taylor Powell is committed to playing his final year of college football at Eastern Michigan. Also, Ben Bryant's headed back to Cincinnati.
Transfer Portal Update: January 9, 2022
EMU QBs: Taylor Powell in from Troy, Ben Bryant heads back to Cincinnati
Heading into the holiday season, Eastern Michigan didn’t have any quarterbacks graduate out of the program yet, and everybody at that position was set to return in 2022.
Then Preston Hutchinson, who started the 2020 season, moved down to QB2 in 2021, hit the transfer portal.
A week later, Ben Bryant, who joined EMU for just the 2021 season as a transfer from Cincinnati, left the team is headed back to Cincy for the 2022 season.
No QBs were signed in the early signing period — a week before Hutchinson and Bryant transferred out — so the Eagles were left with two sophomore, scholarship QBs left on the roster, and there’s not a lot of experience to lean on between Austin Smith or Baron May.
He’s probably not going to get $1M over his decision to commit to EMU, but QB Taylor Powell announced that he’s coming to EMU for the 2022 season.
Powell is a Fayetteville, Ark. native who spent his first four years out of high school at Missouri (class of 2017) before he flipped to Troy for the 2021 season. Powell, then a graduate transfer with two years to offer for the Trojans, won the starting job in Week 1 of the season, but was sidelined due to injury after five games into the season.
For his injury-shortened year, Powell was 122/186 passing (65.6%) for 1,224 yards (6.6 Y/A). Previous to Troy, Powell was a 2017 signee with Missouri, ranked the #6 recruit from Arkansas. He received little playing time in the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Tigers (Missouri stats: 35/76, 46.1%, 431 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT).
The Ben Bryant playbook
After Bryant’s cameo season with the Eagles, he’s headed back to Cincinnati where he was formerly the backup quarterback to Desmond Ridder, who just led the Bearcats to a historic College Football Playoff appearance and now off to the NFL. Bryant took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the extra year of eligibility gave him. Thanks, covid! Bryant clearly had an ability to play start and play football, but he wasn’t going to start over a returning Ridder in 2021, so he hit the transfer portal and tried his shot at EMU, where his father went to college at.
Ultimately, the gamble worked out as well as one could imagine for the QB to this point. Instead of riding the bench, Bryant competed for and eventually won the starting job over Hutchinson at Eastern. Bryant finished the season as the Mid-American Conference’s leader in passing percentage (68.4%, 279/408), 2nd in pass attempts (408), and 3rd in pass yards (3,121 total, 240.1 avg.). He didn’t receive any All-MAC accolades, but he certainly leaves with a grad school experience.
Now Bryant gets to go back to Cincinnati where his current competition on the roster are younger guys that have a lot of talent. Bryant didn’t get to enjoy the historic run to the Playoff like he probably would’ve loved to enjoy with his friends, but that’s the cost of the parlay he played on Jan 7, 2021 when he made the decision to come to Eastern. His announcement to re-join Cincinnati came exactly one year later: Jan. 7, 2022. Whether he spent the past year in Ypsi or in Cincy, he still would have to prove himself to coach Luke Fickell and staff that he’s the guy to lead the Bearcats in 2022. He knew the upcoming spring practices would be coming up, and now he brings more experience to his team having actually led Eastern’s offense in 2021.
Cincinnati’s situation is unique in its own right, but how many more boomerang transfers could we see?
Per The Athletic, Bryant is a fifth-year player who might have up to two years of eligibility remaining and can play right away. You already get immediate eligibility for being a first-time transfer, but not a second. You do, however, still receive immediate eligibility if you meet such-and-such academic guidelines as a graduate student. The bonus second year comes from the hardship year of 2020, previously granted by the NCAA.
With the transfer portal working as it is: a quarterback (or whatever player) can leave their initial college for another one through the portal and play right away. Then as a graduate student, come back to the original school and presumably be higher up on the depth charts because you were able find a way to turn the transfer portal into a study abroad program.
Risky move for the player involved (especially if the head coach at the original school takes a new job elsewhere), but it’s probably really beneficial for coaches that are looking to patch things up at the QB spot for a year.
Akron, Moorhead jump-starts roster with nine adds via transfer portal
Nobody should be surprised that new Akron head coach Joe Moorhead is gaining some sort of momentum on the recruiting trail in his first couple of months leading the Zips. Guys that want to coach with him are starting to line up to come to Akron, and guys that want to play for him again
Offensively, Akron grabbed four commits at four different positions. Committed so far an offensive lineman (Max Banes-Houston (2)), a tight end (T.J. Banks-West Virginia (2)), a wide receiver (Shocky Jacques-Lewis -Pitt (1), and a running back (Cameron Wiley-Minnesota (3))
Defense is the side of the ball where Moorhead’s been able to get most of his transfers. Committed to the program so far include three linemen (Curtis Harper-Syracuse (2 yrs. eligible), Victor Jones-Wyoming (1), Devon Robinson-Memphis (2)), a safety that had a strong freshman year in 2019 (Kerry Martin-West Virginia (3)), and a graduate transfer linebacker that was a former Lance Leipold recruit (Tim Terry-Buffalo (1)).
Quick thought experiment, because I think Akron winning the month of January on the recruiting trail like this deserves the added point in an offseason newsletter post. How much will Moorhead & Akron benefit out of the new transfer portal rules in place?
Not even 10 whole years ago, if a team grabbed nine new transfer commits, they probably would have been junior college guys and/or guys that are leaving only as graduate transfers. In fairness, most of these nine commits through the portal have only a year or two left to play, and I didn’t mention CB Cameron Threatt, a junior college transfer that Moorhead previously coached at Mississippi State.
However, actually contacting these guys through the portal + social media has probably sped things up so much more than, say, when Sean Lewis was hired by Kent State. When Lewis was hired by KSU in December 2017, it was the first year of the early signing period. More of the higher-quality high school & junior college recruits were being signed largely by colleges that were happy enough to keep their coaches going into 2018, Lewis and his pool of assistants had to get in their cars drive up and down every corner of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the DMV area (D.C/Maryland/Virginia), or maybe fly out to California or Florida, to get guys either to flip out of their previous commitments late, or find unsigned guys that would make it at Kent. The new Kent staff essentially had to sprint its way through a 2-month marathon of recruiting to Kent State, which was suddenly supposed to be a cool and fun place for football.
Moorhead’s first wave of incoming recruits are certainly much older, experienced, and college-ready than what Lewis was able to grab with his prep-level signees for the class of 2018. And Moorhead’s process of finding who’s in the portal and gaining contact for them is probably much simpler than what Lewis was tasked with at the time. When Lewis was able to introduce his first class of signees, there were two junior-college add-ons (QB Woody Barrett, RB Jo-El Shaw) and the rest of its 23-player class were high schoolers. So far, Moorhead’s gotten just two commitments from high school players.
So much about building at perpetual bottom-feeders of college football has changed over the past four years. And we’ll have to bookmark the ongoing case study of what’s going on, recruiting-wise, to these two programs across the street from one another in Northeast Ohio.
Thank you for reading The Ypsilanti Eleven! Please subscribe today and never miss a beat. Follow @YpsiEleven on Twitter.