Contributors, Football, Latest News, Sean Manning, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: Never assume with college football transfers


Dreshun Miller started nine of 10 games for WVU this season at cornerback — the only game he missed was the Mountaineers’ Liberty Bowl win over Army.

He was a part of the No. 1 pass defense in the nation and was an important part of the secondary, finishing with nine pass defenses and an interception.

Including Miller, all five starters in the secondary, including Scottie Young and Kerry Martin, who have both started their fair share of games in the past, were all expected to return and make another run in 2021.

Which makes Miller’s announcement he was entering the transfer portal and subsequent commitment to Auburn all the more confusing.

Miller arrived at WVU in 2019 as a highly touted junior college prospect and was expected to make major contributions that season, but nagging injuries kept him on the sideline. Finally, with a full bill of health, he was the player most thought he’d be in 2020. Playing opposite Nicktroy Fortune, the duo locked down the two cornerback spots and helped the Mountaineers put up daunting defensive numbers.

With excitement already building for what could happen this fall, Miller posted on his Twitter account he was not returning to WVU, a significant blow on the back end of the defense.

After thanking coach Neal Brown, others within the program and his teammates, Miller said, “After talking to God and talking with my family, I feel like the best decision for myself is to enter my name in the NCAA Transfer Portal.”

Almost immediately, speculation began as to why Miller, an established starter on one of the best defenses in the country, would uproot to go to another school.

Miller will not be a graduate transfer, and in previous years, that meant he’d have to sit out a year at his new school. But the NCAA Division I Council approved a one-year transfer waiver that allows players to have immediate eligibility if it’s their first transfer to a four-year program.

In Miller’s case, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

The new ruling, which is being tabled on a permanent basis for now, was created to help football players during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is ultimately passed for good, there are legitimate concerns over college football becoming the “Wild, Wild West.” If players can leave at will with no consequence, expect greater numbers in the transfer portal. This year alone, double-digit scholarship players are in the portal from every Big 12 program.

But, as the Mountaineers have seen this offseason, coaches can leave for greener pastures any time they want. Miller’s position coach, Jahmile Addae, left for Georgia in January. Addae’s replacement, ShaDon Brown, was officially hired Feb. 9.

Two days later, Miller announced he was leaving.

Player-coach relationships are important to young men and are often ignored, and the timing of Miller’s decision may be more than a coincidence.

Many thought Miller, a Georgia native, would go home and reunite with Addae at UGA, but instead is headed to Auburn, which is just one two hours from his hometown in Kennesaw.

Did Miller leave WVU because of the coaching situation? Did he just want to be closer to home? Did he want to play on the big stage the SEC provides?

Only Miller knows, and unless he says why himself, respecting transfers who decide WVU isn’t the place for them is the right thing to do.

And while this new ruling took from WVU, there is no doubt the coaching staff is scouring the portal and will benefit from it before this off-season is finished.

It will likely be the new norm, and instead of shaming transfers for not finishing what they started, move on and understand players leave for a multitude of reasons.

TWEET @SeanManning_1