When a college football player reaches a crossroads athletically, academically, or for personal reasons, it’s usually time to explore a change. That’s where the NCAA transfer portal, a compliance system created in October 2018 to manage and facilitate the process for student-athletes looking to transfer between member institutions, comes into play.
Beyond that avenue of potentially changing schools, there’s a new proving ground for college football players looking to audition for scholarships: the Transfer Portal Camp by HUB Football.
The Transfer Portal Camp by HUB Football
The inaugural portal camp is scheduled for June 18 at Helix High School in La Mesa, California in the San Diego area. HUB Football was started three years ago as a showcase for free agents seeking professional football employment.
It was founded by Don Yee, an NFL agent who’s the managing principal and founder of Yee & Dubin Sports LLC, and whose clients include Tampa Bay Buccaneers seven-time Super Bowl champion and former NFL and Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady.
Since its inception, over 133 of 533 players who have attended HUB camps have signed professional contracts with multiple HUB football alums and with more than one professional team.
The transfer portal camp is an invitation-only showcase tailored to 50 to 60 top-tier players currently in the NCAA transfer portal. And the platform is a platform curated to connect schools and athletes navigating the portal, including four-year college athletes as well as junior college athletes hoping to gain the attention of four-year schools.
The program for the college transfer portal camp will closely mirror how the NFL camps are conducted. Instead of doing Combine-style testing, this is akin to an NFL-organized team activity focused on technique and field drills with the athletes performing for NCAA schools.
“Obviously, the transfer portal mechanism in college football is somewhat similar to your street free agent situation in the NFL,” Yee said in a telephone interview. “In the NFL, you have these talented young players who are looking for a home. The first thing we want to do is try to create a product to bring together a good number of talented people in one place, so interested schools can see as many players as possible in a cost-efficient manner. That’s our starting point.
“Now, from that starting point, I believe there are a number of different ancillary and beneficial aspects to this. They may have professional football traits, whether they know it or not. Some of them may have played one particular position in college, but those traits may translate at some point to another position in pro football. Once someone sees them do these drills, teams can obtain information and gain intelligence on these ascending players and how they may fit into the NFL game. It’s about creating opportunities.”
HUB Football is about creating opportunities
The camp is intended to give the players a chance to earn scholarships through updated film and coaching from experienced coaches, as well as networking with industry veterans to improve NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) portfolios. Schools will be able to attend the workout in person or receive film of the one-day event.
“We are already engaged in outreach with the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Subdivision schools about the rules regarding what the schools can and can’t do, and that continues to evolve and being sure to be in compliance,” Yee said. “Our goal is to have the universities on-site to watch these athletes. If they can’t be there, we want to create a live-stream product they can connect to and have tape available and our staff available post-camp to provide feedback.”
The CEO of HUB Football is Jamie Hemann, and the general manager of HUB is Mike Williams, a former NFL scout, with Tom Goodhines serving as the senior vice president of football operations.
The coaching staff, featuring several highly experienced former NFL coaches and players, includes Geep Chryst, Ty Detmer, Seneca Wallace, Wendell Davis, Wayne Moses, Eugene Chung, Tim McTyer, Nick Novak, Dave Magazu, Sam Anno, Dwaine Board, Eugene Chung, Junior Bryant, Al-Zahir Hakim, Marvin Jones, Derrick Gardner, and Amanda Ruller.
“We have outstanding coaches,” Yee said. “They have played and coached at the highest level and have a lot of knowledge to impart.”
The plan is to provide a platform, beyond the workout, for the football players to promote themselves through social media and interviews.
HUB Football alums earning jobs
Among the HUB Football pro alums: former University of Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, the top overall pick of the USFL draft and starter for the Michigan Panthers. More than 20% of the players selected in the USFL draft were former HUB players. Former Memphis offensive lineman Brandon Murphy, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound former Indiana State basketball player, worked closely with Chung before earning a tryout with the Jacksonville Jaguars and was signed to their offseason roster.
Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews got back in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers last year after performing at tight end during a HUB Football camp. Meanwhile, former Houston Texans linebacker and Rice University standout Emmanuel Ellerbee signed with the Atlanta Falcons last year after working out at a HUB Football camp.
From the first three camps last year, 10 of 24 free agents signed with NFL teams and 14 with Canadian Football League squads.
The NFL signings from those camps included running backs Darius Clark and Mikey Daniel (Carolina Panthers), wide receivers Devin Ross (New England Patriots) and Andy Jones (49ers), defensive end Jamell Garcia-Williams (Arizona Cardinals), tight end Cheyenne O’Grady (Cincinnati Bengals), safety Ladarius Wiley (Seattle Seahawks), linebacker Quentin Poling (New Orleans Saints), defensive tackle Olive Sagapolu (Falcons) and long snapper Mitchell Fraboni (Texans).
“This gives people a platform, with this particular product for the street free agent. When you’re unemployed and on your own psychologically, it can be a little lonely,” Yee said. “It’s been successful to show them that you’re not alone. We want to impart important feedback to the portal players from our former NFL coaches and players.
“We want these portal players to make new relationships with our coaches who are highly networked in the football industry and can make recommendations to them about their skill development. It’s all about giving people a chance to show what they can do. We believe this program works at the professional and college football levels.”