E.A. Sports Today

Revolving door

Coaches say high school transfers getting out of control, some moves are legitimate, others questionable; ‘it’s out of control’

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The transfer portal is a thing in college football and while not quite as formal on the developmental levels the revolving door has been quite active in recent years on the high school circuit.

Players leave for any number of reasons – some legitimate and some, it’s hinted, nefarious – but schools like Oxford and Alexandria in Calhoun County have taken multiple or high-profile hits since the end of last football season.

Alexandria lost the nation’s top freshman, running back Ronnie Royal, to Gulf Shores. Oxford lost players to Auburn, where its former head coach went, and Thompson. 

Football coaches in Calhoun and Talladega counties say the proliferation of transfers is out of control. Many believe if a player doesn’t want to be their program, they don’t want him around anyway and they move forward with the loyalists who remain.

Here is the unfiltered version of what some Calhoun County coaches had to say about the issue at Friday’s County Football Media Day.

Alexandria’s Todd Ginn

It’s out of control. Let’s get real with that, it’s out of control. It’s going to continue to get out of control until the AHSAA steps up and does something about it. 

TODD GINN: “It’s out of control.”

You either have pride of where you’re at, to play where you’re at, or you don’t. We’re never going to throw money at a kid here. Unfortunately, that happens in a lot of other places. Do you blame a kid or whatever for that? That’s a really, really tough question.

Did it affect our team? Sure, it affected our team. Do we have the guys in place to be very, very good this year? Heck yeah, we do.

Just to make a simple, simple answer to that, you’re either with us or you’re not. If you don’t want to be with us then we don’t want you here with us anyway.

High school ball is so much more important … when it comes down to it, it’s so much more. When these kids get in college, I tell these guys all the time, you better go ahead and take advantage of the choices you have right now. For instance, you have a choice to play football, basketball, baseball right now. In three or four years when you get out of high school that choice may be gone. You may not have that choice ever again. I’m sitting here 43 and I say I wish I could go back and have the choice to play football again.

I think we’ve passed that point. Until this stuff gets reigned in you’re going to continue to see it. But we’re going to take a lot of water off a duck’s back and we’re going to move on and we’re going to push these guys on our team up on a pedestal to have them a chance to succeed.

Oxford’s Sam Adams

Every high school football coach in this state is well aware of the issue you just brought up. I don’t think we can lump every time a kid moves from one school to another in the same boat because there are different circumstances for every kid.

SAM ADAMS: “We’re aware of all those things going on.”

I would like to think high school football at its heart should be the boys from Oxford playing the boys from Pell City down the road and all that. Obviously, there is an issue with third parties involved. We could talk about this for a really long time. I’d really like to shine the light more today on the players we have right here, the program we’re working to build every single day.

We’re aware of all those things going on. This is what I can say with 100 percent full confident: There is no high school football program in the state that works the way we do to give our kids the best experience that they can possibly have. I don’t say that to down any other program out there. I’m just saying from the time our kids arrive first thing in the morning every single day everything we do is to give them a first-class experience.

That’s what we can control, the experience we give our high school athletes every single day and we’re not going to shortchange any of that. The rest of that, we’ll see how it goes.

Wellborn’s Jeff Smith

It is getting a lot worse. You’re talking to somebody here who’s old school and I’m a traditionalist.

JEFF SMITH: “It is getting a lot worse.”

I played at Wellborn and I was recruited by several schools when I was coming out of high school and there were other teams around us who might have a little bit better program or a little bit better team than we did, but I would have died before I would have walked away from our team and went and played for somebody else.

To me, high school football, or high school athletics, is supposed to be take the best kids that you’ve got in your community and you play other communities with them instead of we think this team is going to be better than this team so we’re going to jump ship and go to this team. I just don’t agree with that. I’m sure there are people who disagree with me on that, but I have my opinion on that, too.

When we lost in the playoffs this year to Fyffe, when we went back into that gym after the game was over, we shut the doors and it was just us coaches and the players … what went on in that gym after that game if I bottled it up and took out and sold it I’d be a millionaire right now because those kids cred about each other and loved each other. Anyone who would have been in that gym after that game was over and walk away from the team right there that doesn’t say a whole much because they wouldn’t have bought in to what the program was about.

I was a player at Wellborn, too, and I would sit down in the bottom of that locker room with that black helmet sitting in my lap and I would thank God I was fixing to walk out on them steps and play on The Hill and wear that black helmet and wear that black jersey and represent the Wellborn Panthers. That’s how much it means to me and means that to all our players and if it don’t than they don’t need to be with us.

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