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TU copes with departures to transfer portal while using it to find their replacements
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TU copes with departures to transfer portal while using it to find their replacements

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An eventful offseason for the University of Tulsa is winding down, one that saw starting cornerbacks Akayleb Evans and Allie Green IV among those who hit the transfer portal.

“I’m sure with some of the things that happened over the spring and summer here, people are out there thinking, ‘What’s going on? Why is this happening?’” seventh-year coach Philip Montgomery said. “This is just how it is (in the portal era).

“You can have great relationships with all your players and all of that, but at some point in time they still may choose to do something else. And you can’t do anything about it.”

Evans and Green, who spent four years at TU and started a combined 48 games while developing into NFL prospects, landed at Missouri. They followed former position coach Aaron Fletcher, who left the Hurricane staff in December.

TU signed an especially small class in December and February while expecting almost everyone to return amid the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of COVID-19. To address post-spring departures that included backups at cornerback and safety, Montgomery wound up getting an additional six players from the portal.

“The portal’s here to stay, so it’s about learning how to try to adapt to it,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to open up some avenues and it’s going to allow you to replace some things. It’s also going to cause you problems on your rosters.

“I know there’s a lot of coaches out there that are saying, ‘I’m going to recruit the portal extremely heavy. I’m going to put a lot of focus there.’ We’re not quite there yet because I want to do a good job of recruiting the local high schools, recruiting high school kids to come here to develop those guys and continue to grow them and use the portal as an opportunity as things happen, as things change, to be able to add some experience and some depth from a positional standpoint.”

The Hurricane, which is scheduled to begin preseason practice Aug. 4, has incoming transfers who previously spent time at Southern Miss, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Kansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

“Potentially you have a chance to get a really good kid ... but you have to take all the different variables into play when you’re looking at a kid that maybe has one year left or maybe he has two,” Montgomery said. “Or he just got there and he’s still got four years.

“All of those are different scenarios and then how that plays into what you’re going to have next year. I think you have to be selective when you’re looking at it and making sure you’re not taking a guy just to take a guy.”

In addition to learning to live with the transfer portal, college coaches are navigating the NCAA’s rule change that allows players to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The policy took effect July 1.

“We obviously want to educate our guys because there are some really good advantages to having it, but there’s also some pitfalls that I don’t want them to fall into,” Montgomery said. “So our job right now is to do more of that educational piece of it, help them in any way we get on that side of it.

“Our guys are getting hit, our guys are out there and they’re wanting to (benefit from it). But how that procedure is going to go, we’ll see. I think all of us are going to learn a whole lot in the next six months to a year and then we’re going to see what it really is in about three years.”

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Sports Writer

I have covered college football and college basketball for the Tulsa World since 2012. I spend my spare time as an animal rescue volunteer, focusing on spaying and neutering community cats in the Tulsa area. Phone: 918-581-8452

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