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Hugh Freeze admits 'too early to tell' whether Auburn's closed talent gap, confronts transfer portal dynamics head on

Justin Hokansonby:Justin Hokanson05/17/23

_JHokanson

LAGRANGE, Ga. — There’s only one question Auburn football head coach Hugh Freeze asks when it comes to the transfer portal: “Do they improve our roster?”

Freeze spoke at an alumni event on Wednesday and was asked about his general approach to the transfer portal. His answers was straight forward, and maybe a breath of fresh air in this new age of transfers, NIL deals and more.

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“I don’t care where they come from. My question is, do they improve our roster? If we have a spot and they improve our roster, then we need to go on them,” Freeze said.

“I know there’s a lot of excitement right now with what we’ve done recruiting and I’m thrilled for that. I’m excited, but it’s too early to tell how much have we closed the gap on the ones we have to close the gap on? How much? I don’t think we’ll know until we play some games. The one thing I’m confident on is we’ve improved our roster.”

To date, Auburn lost 19 players to the transfer portal, while welcoming in 17 players. That’s in addition to the 21 high school prospects Auburn signed, many whom arrived before the spring, with the rest reporting this summer. You can check out Auburn’s 2023 recruiting class, both high school prospects and transfers, right here.

Auburn’s 2023 signing class finished ranked No. 17 nationally and No. 8 in the SEC. The Tigers jumped 10-plus spots after Freeze’s hiring.

Auburn’s 2023 transfer portal class currently ranks No. 5 nationally according to the On3 Sports transfer portal rankings. To date, Auburn has welcomed in five 4-star transfer portal players, while losing zero 4-star portal players from the roster.

According to the On3 Sports transfer portal rankings, Auburn’s 19 players lost to the portal average a 66.16 player ranking, while the 17 players added from the transfer portal average a 75.71 player ranking.

Like it or not, the transfer portal has changed college athletics.

“It’s about competition. You are blessed to have the opportunity at the place you’re at. Make the most of that opportunity. Does that guarantee you a significant number of snaps? No, it doesn’t. Yet, you’re blessed. That’s real life. We should be about preparing young men for life. If nothing else, that’s one of the greatest lessons you can learn. Sometimes you have to work as hard as you can and leave the results to be what they are,” Freeze said.

“The answer isn’t always fly to the transfer portal. Sometimes it might be the best, but not in every case. A degree should mean something. Life after football should mean something. We’re a training ground for that. For our team, they are going to hear that consistently that work as hard as you can, but you have to compete. You have to be able to learn hard truths sometime.”

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