While the December window is still a little over one week from opening, the NCAA Transfer Portal is still a hot topic even for the Texas football program right now. Texas has yet to see any significant players depart for the transfer portal this fall, but we’re sure to see a handful of entrants, at least when the window opens next month.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns have done a nice job of player retention across the two-deep since last fall. Texas didn’t lose many if any, significant starters on either side of the ball to the transfer portal last offseason. You could argue certain players, such as senior interior offensive lineman Junior Angilau, could’ve vied for starting jobs this fall.
Notable possible early transfer targets for Texas football heading into next offseason
But considering how much player movement exists in this day and age of NIL and the transfer portal, Sark and the Longhorns staff have passed the test concerning roster turnover with flying colors in the last 12 or 15 months.
On the other hand, the Longhorns will be active in the transfer portal this offseason. Texas needs to fill key positions of need with immediate impact players that can start from day one on the Forty Acres. A few of the positions of need Texas will surely address in the transfer portal this offseason are wide receiver, tight end, defensive back, defensive line, and potentially edge rusher and linebacker.
Texas could also add a punter, with senior Ryan Sanborn exhausting his eligibility after this season.
Here are four early portal entrants the Longhorns could target to fill key needs this offseason.
Eric McAlister, WR
Wide receiver might be the most significant area the Longhorns need to address positionally in the transfer portal in 2024. Texas will likely lose all three starters at wideout, including redshirt senior slot receiver Jordan Whittington, junior field receiver Xavier Worthy, and junior boundary receiver Adonai Mitchell.
There is also the possibility of Texas losing more wideouts deeper down the depth chart to the portal during the offseason, including redshirt junior Isaiah Neyor. If Texas does lose multiple boundary receivers to the portal this offseason, they’ll need to replace that depth with some capable and proven transfers.
Among the best boundary receivers who have already entered the portal this fall that the Longhorns could target is the former Boise State Broncos redshirt sophomore wideout Eric McAlister. The third-year receiver entered the portal a couple of weeks ago after the firing of Boise State head coach Andy Avalos.
McAlister said he explored the idea of returning to Boise State after Avalos was let go earlier this month but ultimately decided to enter the portal to find a better fit at a new program.
At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, McAlister has the length and athleticism to fit at boundary receiver in Sark’s offense. McAlister is also a proven wideout who had a breakout season at Boise State this fall before entering the portal a couple of weeks ago.
McAlister was one of the Mountain West’s best receivers this season, ranking fifth in the conference in receiving yards (873) and 10th in receptions (47). He was the third-highest-graded receiver in the MWC this season.
McAlister possesses many attributes required to be a standout boundary receiver in the SEC. He’s got good speed and physicality, excellent hands, and above-average verticality. McAlister is one of the best wideouts in the Group of Five regarding his ability to high-point the football and bring down those tough contested 50-50 balls.
He ranked second in the MWC in contested catches (11) and ranked in the top half of the conference in drop grade.
But just because McAlister has the qualities you would expect from a traditional possession receiver on the boundary, including size and verticality, that doesn’t mean he won’t burn opposing defenders after the catch.
McAlister has above-average speed and elusiveness, allowing him to pick up yards after the catch when he gets the ball in space. He ranked among the top 10 receivers in the MWC in yards after the catch (289) and yards after the catch per reception (6.1).
McAlister’s speed also allows him to threaten opposing defensive backs over the top, catching the deep ball. He ranked third in the MWC in deep ball targets (32) and tied for seventh in receiving yards on targets of at least 20 air yards (315).
There probably won’t be all that many boundary receivers that hit the portal of the potential 1,000-yard types, like Texas got with Mitchell last offseason. But McAlister does fit that mould.