Wednesday was Arizona’s final workout ahead of the annual Spring Game, which is set for Saturday afternoon and will serve as a fitting end to that segment of college football’s offseason.
But Saturday also marks the start of another part of the offseason: the re-opening of the NCAA transfer portal.
As part of the revamped portal system, a 15-day window begins this weekend and runs through April 30 during which any players can throw their name in and thus be contacted by other programs. The portal had been “closed” to new entrants (other than those who had graduated) since the initial 45-day period ended in mid-January.
The Wildcats added seven players from the portal during the winter, all on defense, with former Georgia defensive lineman Bill Norton and ex-Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe the most notable additions. They also lost more than 25 players to the portal, with seven ending up at UMass (where former UA defensive coordinator Don Brown is head coach) and three others landed at USC.
Coach Jedd Fisch said Arizona will have “eyes wide open” when it comes to the portal, as the Wildcats at least three scholarships available to use on transfers if the right ones come available.
What might Fisch and his staff be looking for? Immediate help, he said.
“We’re only gonna try to bring in guys that can really help us at this time,” Fisch said. “If we can find a couple that can help us, we’ll bring them in. If we can’t, we won’t.”
Of those already in the portal, the top player available according to 247Sports is ex-USC wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. Bryant visited Arizona in late January, and also took visits to Miami, Oregon and Texas A&M, and his father told 247Sports he plans to make a decision in May.
It’s more likely Arizona would look to add more defensive transfers, possibly to the safety position where roughly half the scholarship players are true freshmen.
“We have more depth, we still need to keep getting more depth,” Fisch said. “We’d love to be able to add to our defense here coming up. And we still have three or four scholarships open, and we’ll see what that looks like. But I love the fact that our defense is getting better. Getting bigger, getting stronger, and with that they’re getting to a point where we have a chance to compete at a higher level.”
Arizona will inevitably see a few departures following spring ball. It already saw junior safety Jaydin Young leave the team last month.