Monday, June 17, 2024

Utah’s Cam Rising, Tennessee’s Bru McCoy among top players with extra year of eligibility from NCAA settlement

The United States Department of Justice announced Thursday that it filed a proposed consent decree that will prohibit the NCAA from enforcing its Transfer Eligibility Rule, or any related rules that impose restrictions on athletic transfers between Division I schools. 

The proposed consent decree — which still requires court approval — would retroactively apply to any transfers forced to sit out under the NCAA’s Transfer Eligibility Rule. One of the provisions states that Division I student-athletes deemed ineligible for any portion of a season during or since the 2019-20 academic year will be granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA.  

This revision is also contingent on whether the athlete is currently eligible to compete, or their eligibility expired during the 2023-24 academic year. Obviously, this latest turn opens the door for several athletes to take advantage of that extra year of eligibility. 

Here are some college football stars that could benefit from the latest change to the NCAA’s transfer policy. 

Cam Rising, QB, Utah 

This decision opens the door for Rising to return for an almost unprecedented eighth season. Whether the longtime Utah signal caller will actually do that remains to be seen, but he’s already transcended veteran status at this point. Rising initially signed with Texas in 2018 under former coach Tom Herman but transferred to Utah in 2019. Per NCAA rules at the time, he had to sit out his first year with the Utes. He was named Utah’s starter for the 2020 season opener against USC but suffered a season-ending injury that ended his campaign after just a couple of quarters. He started in 24 games from 2021-22 but a devastating injury in the 2023 Rose Bowl sidelined him for an entire season. Rising is back for another go with the Utes in 2024 as they transition to the Big 12. He’ll have another decision pending once the season’s over. 

Bru McCoy, WR, Tennessee

McCoy’s career has already been colorful, thanks in large part to the transfer portal. To summarize a busy first year, McCoy committed to USC in January 2019 as a five-star prospect, flipped to Texas 20 days later on signing day, enrolled with the Longhorns for spring practice and then transferred to USC in June of that very same year. He was forced to sit in 2019, played in six games in 2020 and remained sidelined in 2021 while dealing with legal issues off the field. He transferred to Tennessee in 2022 and started 12 games after earning immediate eligibility, hauling in 52 catches for 667 yards and four touchdowns. An ankle injury cut his 2023 season short after five games and he made the decision to return in 2024 as Tennessee’s presumed No. 1 wide receiver. Though his initial transfer situation is complicated, it seems as if the NCAA would give McCoy another year in 2025, should he choose to return. 

Jake Smith, WR, Arizona State

Smith, a former top-100 prospect out of Scottsdale, Arizona, played in 13 games in 2019 as a freshman at Texas and caught six touchdowns, ranking second among true freshmen in program history. He started six games in 2020 and caught three touchdowns while missing a handful of games due to injury. Smith went through the 2021 spring practice slate with the Longhorns and new coach Steve Sarkisian before becoming a part of Clay Helton’s final transfer haul at USC. He missed the entire 2021 season while injured and didn’t play in 2022 while working on his degree. With USC’s wide receiver room loading up on talent under Lincoln Riley, Smith transferred to Arizona State ahead of the 2023 season. The NCAA denied his waiver for eligibility, given that it was his second time transferring before obtaining an undergraduate degree. Smith will play in 2024, and he could use a couple of extra years to live up to his high school billing and recreate the impact he had with Texas almost five years ago. 

Darrell Jackson Jr., DL, Florida State

Jackson signed with Maryland in 2021 out of Gadsden County High School in Havana, Florida and spent one year with the Terrapins before transferring to Miami. In his lone season with the Hurricanes, Jackson tallied 27 total tackles and three sacks while starting all 12 games. He re-entered the transfer portal in December 2022, citing a desire to move closer to family, and quickly committed to Florida State. He was forced to sit out of the regular season. However, he did make his Seminoles debut in Florida State’s Orange Bowl loss to Georgia where he posted three tackles, including a half-tackle for loss. Jackson is a legitimate NFL Draft prospect who could see his stock soar in 2024, but NIL and the potential to improve even more could convince him to stick around. 

Tyler Brown, OL, Colorado 

Brown spent the first three years of his collegiate career at Louisiana before transferring to Jackson State under Deion Sanders in 2022. There, he emerged as one of the FCS’ best offensive linemen, earning third-team All-American and first-team All-SWAC honors after starting 13 games at guard. Brown followed Sanders to Colorado in 2023, but he was ruled ineligible under the NCAA’s multi-time transfer rule. The Buffaloes surely could have used him and he’ll be a key figure in 2024 as the Buffaloes rebuild one of the nation’s worst units. Getting him back for a seventh year in 2025 would provide much-needed stability to the Colorado offensive line. 

Zach Durfee, EDGE, Washington 

Durfee spent a single semester at North Dakota State in 2021. He didn’t play football, or any other sport for that matter. He transferred to Sioux Falls to play football and redshirted in 2021 before breaking out in 2022 with 11 sacks in 11 games, the third-most among all players in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Durfee entered the portal once more in 2023 and garnered interest from the likes of Minnesota and Iowa State before committing to Washington and former Sioux Falls coach Kalen DeBoer. Despite the fact that Durfee never participated in a sport at NDSU, the NCAA still considered him a two-time athletic transfer and deemed him ineligible for the 2023 campaign. He was activated for Washington’s College Football Playoff run, though he didn’t spend any time on the field. The Huskies now have to replace both of their edge rushers, and Durfee has impressed two different coaching staffs with his athleticism and his ability to adapt to the highest level of competition. A couple of strong seasons with the Huskies could see him emerge as a premier defender.

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