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The transfer portal has thrown college football for a loop

It’s been a crazy offseason.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“That means that only eight players from that cycle have stuck with their current programs.”

-Dustin Schutte, Saturday Tradition

The transfer portal has become one of the hottest topics in the college football (and basketball) offseason, affecting programs large and small and completely shifting the landscape of players especially among major programs. Despite being in place for less than a year, the portal has become a tool for numerous players to move to new schools seemingly at will. But one of the most shocking statistics came over the weekend following Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters’ entry into the portal.

Yes, with Peters’ move, more than two-thirds of the top quarterbacks in the 2016 recruiting class are no longer with the schools they signed with out of high school. When just a few years ago, players had to grad-transfer to finish out their eligibility at a different institution, the rapidity with which transfers have been happening for high-profile players at high-profile schools has been shocking. Granted, this past draft marked the first time the 2016 class was draft eligible, so it makes sense that some of the players, like Dwayne Haskins, would depart for the NFL. However, that’s definitely not the case for everyone, and that 17-of-25 number does not count Haskins or other draft picks.

The portal seems to have proven particularly relevant for quarterbacks, who are actively seeking starting roles when their current programs cannot seem to provide them. Ohio State saw it clearly with the transfer of Justin Fields from Georgia and, just a few days later, the move of Tate Martell to Miami (FL). While it was not through the portal, Michigan has been similarly affected not only by Peters’ move but by Shea Patterson, who transferred in from Ole Miss last year, opting to stick around for another season. The appeal of the portal, unlike entering the draft, means that players can maintain eligibility throughout the process.

With Spring Commencement over the weekend, the Ohio State University conferred a record 12,213 degrees to graduating students. Among those were 169 current and former student athletes from Ohio State.

Headlining the group of former athletes was basketball star Greg Oden. It had been a long journey for Oden since he first arrived in Columbus 13 years ago. After leading the Buckeyes to a Final Four appearance as a freshman, Oden was taken with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. With his professional career cut short by injury after injury, Oden returned to Columbus to finish his time at Ohio State through the degree completion program, spending time as a student assistant coach for the men’s basketball team along the way. Though the journey has been unconventional, it has all been worth it -- the former big man received his sport industry degree from the Ohio State University Sunday.

Not to be left out, former football stars Nick Mangold and Santonio Holmes, both of whom were selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, graduated Sunday with their own degrees. Holmes, a Super Bowl champion and MVP and who retired from football in 2014, took home a degree in family resource management. Mangold, meanwhile, spent his entire 11-year career with the New York Jets, earning seven Pro Bowl bids along the way. The former center brought home his degree in operations management. Like Oden, Mangold and Holmes both completed their degrees through the degree completion program.

Along with these former Buckeyes, a number of notable current student athletes took home degrees, including basketball point guard C.J. Jackson. In addition, seven wrestlers from this year’s NCAA runner-up team, including Micah Jordan, Myles Martin, Joey McKenna and Kollin Moore, earned their degrees Sunday.

In other amazing news from former Buckeyes, linebacker Ryan Shazier tied the knot over the weekend, marrying his longtime partner Michelle Rodriguez. While his wedding is exciting in itself, not the least of which because it was graced with numerous current Pittsburgh Steelers players (including T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Connor), what made the night so remarkable to onlookers was that Shazier danced with his wife at the reception.

Shazier was told he had just a 20 percent chance of ever walking again after suffering a horrifying injury on Monday Night Football in December 2017. However, he has beaten the odds and been an inspiration to many along the way. From showing up to Pittsburgh sporting events in a wheelchair and shakily standing up to wave to the crowd, to walking to deliver the Steelers’ pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, to going on a run, Shazier has demonstrated his resilience as he works to get his strength back.

Shazier has already been placed on the physically unable to perform list by the Steelers, and the organization has already stated that the linebacker will not play in 2019. However, Pittsburgh announced in March that the team would be tolling Shazier’s contract, meaning he would be able to earn income this year from his contract, leverage this year toward his NFL pension and maintain NFL player health insurance.

Congrats to Ryan on his nuptials and his continued recovery!

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