Transfers in Texas High School Football becoming a trend and a concern
As frequent as athletes announce commitments to colleges on social media, also has become the trend of announcing transferring to a new high school.
In Houston and across the state, it is no longer a random occurrence but becoming more of a popular trend.
Houston ISD programs have been particularly hit hard this summer, losing three top athletes - Demond Demas (North Forest), Bobby Taylor (Houston Heights) and Darryl Brown Jr. (Yates) - to a transfer out of the district prior to the start of the 2019 football season. All three were either national recruits or already committed.
Brown Jr., who played basketball and football at Yates, is the most recent move, leaving the program and enrolling at Fort Bend Marshall High School to start the school year in the past week.
"It's getting out of control," Jack Yates football coach Michael Hickey said.
The movement this summer started with national recruit Demond Demas, who started his career at North Forest.
Demas is verbally committed to Texas A&M and is ranked the No. 14 overall national recruit and No. 2 overall Texas recruit for the 2020 class by 24/7 Sports.
Demas is currently at Tomball High School but is awaiting his State Executive Committee of the University Interscholastic League Hearing to determine his eligibility for his senior year.
"You're not thinking about the child if your risking him losing his senior year," Hickey said. "You never know what the district's going to say, you never know what the committee is going to say. You don't know what the overall outcome is going to be. So, a kid may lose his senior year of football. I'd hate to see a kid lose his senior year to play for me."
Demas told VYPE that he will have his hearing on August 20. If he loses his appeal he would either have to return to North Forest or not play his senior year.
If he wins his appeal and the DEC decision is overturned he can then play this season at Tomball.
"We groom kids for years as the come through Houston ISD in junior high and part of high school," Houston ISD Athletic Director Andre Walker said. "All of a sudden, they become elite and they leave. I'm sick of it and not happy about it. We will continue to fight for all of our kids and we want them to stay in the district. We are doing great things here and want our kids to develop and make our teams become better.Now, just over two weeks before the season is set to start Brown Jr. leaves the Yates program for Fort Bend Marshall. The paperwork, District Executive Committee hearing and other steps will have to be taken before he plays a down for the Buffs."
Fort Bend Marshall went through the same process with former Houston Austin quarterback Malik Hornsby last season. Hornsby missed half the regular season before he was cleared by the SEC to play for the Buffs. The then-junior left Fort Bend Marshall to its first state title game appearance in program history.
Earlier this summer Dallas Skyline lost three football recruits that transferred to the school.
According to the Dallas Morning News report, defensive lineman Casey Irons (Colorado State-commit) returned to Gilmer after the District 8-6A Executive Committee ruled against him. Linebacker Jaqwondis Burns and 2022 defensive lineman Keithian Alexander, who both transferred from Terrell, were ruled ineligible for one year of varsity competition and were ruled to have transferred for athletic purposes. The players can appeal the decision to the State Executive Committee.
The UIL State Executive Committee this summer has already upheld DEC decisions in this matter denying the appeals of student-athletes from Fort Worth Western Hills High School and El Paso Americas High School for varsity eligibility, upholding the previous DEC decision.
"We believe our activities are community based and they want students who are going to school in their district participating," UIL Policy and Administration Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said at the 2019 THSCA Coaching School. "There has to be some assemblance of order when we look at our current rule when we think about transfers and the way they are processed."
"The rules we have have served us very well," UIL Policy and Administration Deputy Director Dr. Jamey Harrison added. "It's not a perfect system but we have a very good system. It's very locally based, grass-root based where those decisions are ultimately made by the folks closest to the situation who have the most information about the situation.
In the past few weeks, Bobby Taylor joined the transfer group moving from Houston Heights to Katy. Taylor is a rising national recruit entering his sophomore season. Northside WR Justin Beaudion has enrolled at Oak Ridge High School.
The list goes on and on. Outside of Houston ISD programs there have been other notable transfers this offseason.
Teddy Knox Jr. moved in from Southern Lab in Louisiana to The Woodlands; Martrell Harris Jr. transferred from Grand Oaks to The Woodlands; Eric Mixon moved from North Shore to MacArthur; Kendall Taylor transferred from Klein Oak to Westfield, Tylan George transferred from Aldine Davis to Klein Oak and Seth Jones (Baylor-commit) left St. Pius X and is trying to enroll at Shadow Creek.
"As far as I'm concerned middle school kids (transferring) that's fine," Hickey said. "But when a kid is already at a school, if that's the way this game is played, I probably won't coach very long because I'm not that kind of guy.
"I don't want 20 (Previous Athletic Performance Forms) from kids who have already played for another school. That's not who I am. Then it becomes more about winning than about building men."
The current system isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
But when the school's are ready to talk about a change, the UIL will be ready for that conversation.
"We're certainly open to having conversations about changes as needed moving forward," Harrison said. "Our rule has served us well, it's going to continue to serve us well until our school's tell us we need something different. We will be ready to have those conversations when they are ready to have them."