What Ken Walker and Le'Veon Bell have in common: Another 200-yard rushing game
Seaside Joe 1198: Seattle has another Ken who hits home runs, but this one plays football
What is the transfer portal? It sounds like a fancy term being borrowed by the NCAA from science fiction or advanced technology to simply mark a change in their transferring process, but the truth is that it is technology:
“This is probably the best use of technology that I’ve seen in a long while,” says Dede Allen, associate director for compliance and academics at Alaska Anchorage. “Everybody who needs access to the information can get it. When a student-athlete wants to transfer, you are trying to help them, and the last thing you want to do is impede the process.”
An explainer at Amazon AWS (you know, that company that owns us and everything we use) by Greg Johnson (fake name for an AI?) notes that the transfer portal was actually created more for school compliance officers than for student-athletes. It just so happens that the expedited process of completing a student’s transfer can now help college football (and other sports that I don’t write about) appear to be roughly the same as NFL free agency.
But the consensus is that tasks that previously could have taken hours, days or weeks are simply going away. The process now can be started in minutes.
Beginning in 2018-2019, a student can go to their school’s compliance officer and be asked to be placed in the transfer portal, allowing every other school to see their availability (“free agency”) when they check the database to look for potential new recruits. There is a lot of risk associated with entering the transfer portal, including potentially losing your scholarship at your old school without receiving a new scholarship anywhere else, but it has also comes with a massive benefit to the few and lucky:
Transferring from one Division-I school to another used to mean that a football player had to sit out one full season. That yearlong wait no longer exists and that’s why my list of 152 college quarterbacks to keep an eye on includes a lot of players who were starting at one school last season and will be starting somewhere else in 2022.
Players also don’t have to get permission from anyone before they are asked to be placed in the transfer portal. A coach can try to convince him to change his mind, but within 48 hours of asking to be placed in it, a student must be allowed to enter the transfer portal to open his or her candidacy to move to another program. In some cases, we know that players are unceremoniously dipping out from teams where they lost their jobs (Spencer Rattler, Bo Nix, etc.), while others are attempting to capitalize on a job well done (Washington State’s Cameron Ward, for example).
It will be years before we know the true impact that these changes have had on college football and the NFL. I know that it is fun and easier to simply highlight the players who benefit from the transfer portal, but it would not be right to completely ignore the fact that the vast majority of transfers will not come close to the NFL… and some of them may be harmed by getting poor information from people who don’t have their best interests at heart.
It could also be doing more to benefit the major programs like Alabama, a team that was able to add Jameson Williams to its offense as a Jaylen Waddle replacement in 2021, then the small schools that get lucky with underrated recruits. But even Nick Saban has expressed concerns about the new transfer process, and I don’t think we should ignore his warnings simply because he’s the “big bad mean man who runs the program we all hate.”
“My concern with the transfer, not the portal itself is the fact that players can transfer and be immediately eligible makes it really convenient and easy to think that the grass is always greener, as my dad used to say, on the top of the septic tank,” Saban said. “So players think they’re going to have a better opportunity to go someplace else, and that’s not always going to be the case. But I’m also concerned for the players that people will use these rules to get rid of some of the back end of their roster so they can improve the front end of their roster, which I don’t think is good for players either.”
I know, I know, he’s the big bad mean man… Which is exactly what Seahawks fans were calling Pete Carroll during and even for a few years after his USC career. And I also realize that Saban has his own agenda with regards to what he publicly states about the transfer process. But being selfish and greedy doesn’t necessarily make Saban wrong either.
The transfer portal could be beneficial to players on the rise who make our “top-20 transfers” list and at the same time be harmful to those players (20 out of thousands) that you will never talk about and I will never write about.
“Because some of the Division I-AA and Division II schools might say we’re not going to recruit any players out of high school, we’re just going to take transfers because they can transfer once and are going to be here the whole time. I do think there’s some consequences to all this that may not always be beneficial to the player.”
The transfer portal appears to be a better process on the whole, but that should not stop us from talking about the potential negatives. It’s those who are negatively affected who won’t get any coverage in the media after all.
Meanwhile, it’s players like Ken Walker III who clearly exemplify when and why the transfer portal was absolutely necessary.
Walker entered the transfer portal after the 2020 season because he didn’t feel that Wake Forest’s slow mesh offense properly highlighted what he was capable of on the field over his first two college campaigns. After one year at Michigan State, Walker posted his top SEVEN career rushing totals as a member of the Spartans in 2021.
For some, the transfer portal works wonders.
Today is part nine of the Ken Walker series, a segment that Seaside Joe readers have shown is arguably the best days of the newsletter. Through your likes, comments, and shares, it’s obvious that not only do you LOVE the Seahawks’ newest franchise running back already, but you especially like getting to see his best career plays and games at both of the programs that he excelled at. Every single time you show support for Seaside Joe, it helps me immensely, and motivates more segments like this one, so please consider sharing the newsletter or subscribing for only $5.
I believe it is extremely important these days to support people who are creating the content you enjoy and avoiding any sort of marketing or advertising model. It’s what George Carlin and Bill Hicks would have wanted. So it doesn’t even have to be me, maybe I’m only your 10th-favorite content creator and that’s okay, I’m not Carlin, but consider supporting anyone out there who might be exhausting themselves over free stuff that you like. They will really appreciate it!
If you have missed any of the previous eight installments of this series, I will always keep a running tally for you to browse. There are seven games left to cover in Walker’s 32-game college career, including today’s performance against Rutgers that ended up as his second-highest rushing total over those three seasons.
Previously on Ken Walker III’s college career: Walker’s freshman season, Walker’s career-day vs NC State, Walker’s holy shit moments vs Virginia, how Walker got to Michigan State, will Walker be a third WR, Walker’s 4-TD debut for the Spartans, Walker blows through Miami like a tornado, there was no better college RB in 2021 than Ken Walker
Now: October 9, 2021 - Michigan State vs Rutgers
We don’t need to overrate the Rutgers defense to highlight Ken Walker. The truth is that a lot of his runs in this game were a little less inspiring than many of his other performances because the Scarlet Knights simply looked awful out there.
It’s all too common to see running backs critics cherry pick certain rushing plays with wide open lanes to say, “Can’t find this in the third round.”
We get it, you like sarcasm, you know, that thing that is actually just a “thinly veiled attempt to disguise feelings of anger, fear, or hurt” according to Psychology Today.
But you shouldn’t have to hide your feelings or fear or hurt if you are tasked with tackling Walker on a football field. You will feel anger, fear, and hurt against Walker and against Rutgers, it was impossible to ignore as a viewer.
Walker had 29 carries against Rutgers, at that point a career-high, and many of them featured open lanes and poor excuses for arm tackles. We can see Walker’s talent on display, especially his ability to burst through a hole, but good god how does Greg Schiano have a 13-year college coaching career?
URGENT: RECEIVING HIGHLIGHT
One of the more fun plays of Walker’s 2021 season, and a rarity as a reception, here he goes wide right but ends up wide left for a first down and more.
Trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, Walker again flashes through the Scarlet defense for a long first down gain:
And how about a touchdown too…
The long Ken
If you will recall, Ken Walker’s first game as a college running back included a 96-yard touchdown run as a true freshman, the longest run in Wake Forest history.
In year two, Walker had a 75-yard touchdown run against Virginia.
In his Michigan State debut, Walker had a 75-yard touchdown run on THE FIRST PLAY OF THE GAME.
But he was far from finished from being far from the finish line. Ken Walker was one of the great big play threats of college football over the last three seasons and he may have had way more runs like this if not for having to spend two years in the slow mesh offense. This is Ken Walker bursting through another portal, this time for 94 yards:
Walker was asked about this play on Good Morning Football one the eve of the NFL Draft, highlighting his handshake with Jalen Nailor 20 yards prior to scoring.
Walker credits his offensive line and says, “I wasn’t even thinking when I shook his hand.”
Give your brain and your body a break, you’ve already run over 70 yards at that point.
Walker went over 200 yards and still wasn’t done, adding another long first down run, weaving through diving defenders and recording his second huge performance in only six games with Michigan State. Not since Le’Veon Bell in 2012 has a Spartans back had two 200-yard rushing games in a season.
We have six more games to cover for Walker, four of which go for at least 130 yards, so please help get the word out with a share (Facebook? Yes. Twitter? Yes. Emailing this to a Seahawks fan? Yes. Speaking to someone in public about Ken Walker/Seaside Joe? Absolutely. It all helps!) and support ad-free content wherever you can and I’ll continue to go through Walker’s career highlights ahead of his rookie season.
Is the transfer process the same for non-athletes? Do they all go into the same database and it's up to recruiters to sift out the potential pickups? I'm just imagining a fun scenario where some nerdy kid also named Ken Walker studying civil engineering at Wake Technical Community College gets a call about a full ride to play running back at Michigan State.