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Harsin looks to replicate transfer success


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Harsin looks to replicate transfer success from last season

Nathan King
4-5 minutes


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ATLANTA — If Auburn can manage a similar rate of production from its incoming transfers this season that it got from last year’s additions, its roster could see some important improvements.

Nearly all of Auburn’s nine transfers from last season carved out important roles on both sides of the ball in 2o22. Eku Leota (Northwestern), Marcus Harris (Kansas), Donovan Kaufman (Vanderbilt), Demetris Robertson (Georgia) and Bydarrius Knighten (SEMO) became starters for some or all of the season. T.J. Finley (LSU) was obviously key to have a quarterback replacement when Bo Nix went down. Tony Fair (UAB) didn’t technically start but was the defense’s go-to nose tackle.

“Those guys did a really good job of taking advantage of that opportunity,” Bryan Harsin said Tuesday, speaking to reporters before an Auburn alumni event in Atlanta.

The goal this offseason will be to replicate that success and add more starting-caliber pieces. Auburn already reeled in five transfers before spring ball, and are angling for a few more in the coming months — at positions like wide receiver and defensive line, especially. Players must have entered the transfer portal by May 1 to be eligible for the 2022 season at a new destination.

The Tigers already have their eyes on a few targets — like Arizona State receiver Ricky Pearsall — and the portal will continue filling up for the rest of the month. For Harsin, he knows there are plenty of options. But last season, he and his staff focused on individual position fit — projecting forward to how each player will fit in his room during the season, and ensuring that they won’t be wasting a valuable transfer spot.

“They’re talented, but where do they fit — and how do we get them on the field?” Harsin said. “You want to bring guys in that are going to contribute, somehow or some way.”

Harsin credited his assistants — both last year’s and current — for adapting their approach from high-school prospects to the transfer market, sometimes having to recruit multiple age demographics in the same day. It’s an entirely different recruiting method, Harsin explained.

“High-school players, you have more time; portal guys, you have very little time,” Harsin said. “But you also have better information from their film because you’ve seen them play at this level. … You’ve got maybe a better idea of how they fit from a football standpoint.”

It’s also not as simple as selecting a player from the portal and bringing them on. The compliance team is just as involved as the coaches.

“There’s more to it than just leaving a program and going to a new one,” Harsin said. “The academic side of it has really become a factor — your credits. You can leave, but do your credits transfer?”

Auburn needs bodies from the transfer portal if not only to help offset the losses it’s sustained; 17 scholarship players left via the portal since the end of the 2021 regular season, including two during spring practice.


Before spring ball, Harsin and his staff added quarterbacks Robby Ashford (Oregon) and Zach Calzada (Texas A&M), along with cornerback D.J. James (Oregon), linebacker Eugene Asante (North Carolina) and defensive tackle Jayson Jones (Oregon).

Auburn had seven incoming transfers place last year in the 247Sports top 150 transfer rankings — the most in the SEC.

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Definitely think this years transfers will have a bigger impact than last.  Eku looks to be the standout from that group last year.  I had high hopes for Kauffman and Harris based on how they were hyped but didn’t see it transfer to the field.  Hopefully they’ll find their footing this season.

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