Auburn just added an outstanding running back prospect to its football team this week when Mike Blakely transferred in from Florida. He was a player who was heavily involved with Auburn throughout the recruiting process, but ended up in Gainesville in January as an early high school graduate.
Sometimes it raises a red flag when a football player transfers, but there are certainly a lot of valid reasons for making a move from one college to another. Personalities change, coaches change, players may have been pressured into going to somewhere they didn’t really want to be or maybe a situation arises in which a player realizes after being there he isn’t a good fit for a particular program or college.
When we came to Auburn in 1981 we lost a great running back who was already on the team named Sam DeJarnette from Selma. He was a good kid and there was nothing at all negative about his decision to transfer.
The reason he left for Southern Mississippi is that he wanted to be an “I” formation tailback and we were going to run the wishbone. He had an outstanding career as a tailback at Southern Miss and I didn’t feel any animosity to Sam. His reason for transferring made good sense.
We had a kid named Doug Smith who transferred to Auburn from East Carolina because he knew the coaching staff here. He had played for us as a true freshman. East Carolina had a coaching change and he didn’t get along with the new coaching staff, or they didn’t get along with him, and he decided to transfer. Doug came to Auburn and had a great career here and in the NFL.
Yes, there is the red flag when somebody decides to transfer and yes something is wrong when a kid transfers, but it is not always bad thing. Sometimes starting over is the best thing for a kid, especially if he finds a place where he is wanted and needed.
Kids grow up and mature in different stages and at different ages. Unless you have walked in his shoes you shouldn’t judge him--just let his actions speak for themselves. Some of the transfers are successful, some of them are not.
Sometimes the guys who transfer are problem kids who are just looking for a place to land and there are some coaches who are desperate enough to take them. Sometimes it works out for those athletes, a lot of times it doesn’t. Coaches need to do their homework on each situation because they are all different.
Quarterback is a position where you see a lot of transfers. At top level programs around the country almost every year a team is signing some type of player of the year for that position. At Auburn, Barrett Trotter was a player of the year, Clint Moseley was player of the year and the freshman, Kiehl Frazier, was a player of the year. Auburn also has a commitment (Zeke Pike) from Kentucky and he will be a player of the year somewhere.
Sometimes transferring is the only answer for a quarterback if he wants a chance to play, particularly if he is at a school that runs an offense that doesn’t fit his skills. The same is true of running backs like Sam DeJarnette or even wide receivers. A kid who is an excellent wide receiver who is in an offense that isn’t going to throw the football won’t get a chance to display his talent so you can understand why he would want to transfer.
Hopefully, in the case of Blakely his move to Auburn will work out smoothly for him and his new team.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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