TAMPA, FL. - There is a growing trend that keeps college coaches on their toes 24/7. Student-athletes deciding to leave their school and enter what is called the transfer portal – a database where other coaches can reach out and offer a spot on their team. Sounds simple, right?
“It’s a dark, dark place,” says CJ Bennett, a private quarterback coach in the Tampa Bay area.
Bennett played (and transferred) and coached in Division-I. Bennett knows all too well that just because you go into the portal, doesn’t mean you’re coming out.
“It happened right when I left college coaching, and I don’t think anyone realized what it would become,” Bennett said.
To date, there are over 22,000 student athletes across the NCAA looking for new homes in various sports.
“No one is helping those kids out, everyone is trying to help the schools out and fill their databases; fill their prospect sheets – and these kids are stuck in the transfer portal with nowhere to go,” said Bennett.
That is where Bennett comes in. He and a few partners have designed a new tool for student athletes to better present themselves to college coaches – they call it ‘The Transfer Zone”.
“LinkedIn for transfers and junior college players,” said Bennett. “This is an online resume, online profile; this is all in one space, you can mass-market yourself – promote yourself.”
Bennett and his team have setup a site using feedback from college coaches: “Some of the stuff they asked for was: are they on scholarship; a one- or two-time transfer; how many games started,” said Bennett.
Players will have a spot for all their highlight reels and workout videos. But perhaps the most important feature players requested was the ability to explain their reason for entering the transfer portal.
“They want to be able to tell their story instead of sending a long Twitter DM or Facebook message or Instagram post – If I’m a college coach and I see that long message I think its spam,” Bennett said.
The pandemic took its toll on the college sports landscape. But one silver lining is a recent decision that gives rare power to student-athletes: They can now transfer one time and receive immediate eligibility instead of the traditional model of sitting out a full season. Then these athletes would really have to get it right and that’s the Transfer Zone comes in.
“We’re trying to help promote them and facilitate to their next location,” said Bennett.
The Transfer Zone will launch in July to all student-athletes of all sports and all levels of college. For CJ Bennett and his partners, this isn’t about making money - it’s about giving every college player a second chance.
“There are student-athletes all over that need a home,” said Bennett.