The NCAA’s transfer portal continues to be a popular route for Kansas football seniors looking to extend their careers, and on Tuesday the Jayhawks lost receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. via the same exit ramp.
Robinson became the second KU senior to enter the portal on the day, joining receiver Ezra Naylor II. Previously, receiver Andrew Parchment, cornerback Kyle Mayberry, center Api Mane and punter Kyle Thompson decided to leave as senior transfers, too.
After injury issues cost Robinson the vast majority of his 2020 season, the speedy 5-foot-10 wideout form Los Angeles could have returned to KU next year, thanks to the NCAA’s blanket waiver that provides players an extra year of eligibility.
In fact, Robinson was one of just two Jayhawks (fellow wideout Parchment being the other) head coach Les Miles identified publicly as a player he would like to bring back for 2021.
However, neither decided to conclude his college career at KU.
Robinson, in announcing his transfer plans on Twitter, thanked KU fans, as well as “all of the coaches, academic, (graduate assistants) and equipment staff that have guided and helped me along the way.” Robinson, who joined KU as a junior college transfer in 2018, when David Beaty ran the program, also specifically thanked Miles and the current staff for providing him “the chance to showcase my ability and enhance myself on and off the field.”
The receiver’s emergence as a big-play threat coincided with the arrival of Miles and receivers coach Emmett Jones. In 2019, Robinson enjoyed a breakout season, pulling in 45 receptions for 727 yards, with eight touchdowns.
This year, various issues kept him off the field early in the schedule, and before season-ending surgery he only was able to contribute two receptions for 35 yards.
Naylor, who played in six games as a reserve in 2020, entered the portal earlier Tuesday, according to reports from Rivals and 247 Sports.
A 6-4, 206-pound receiver, Naylor made five catches for 66 yards in his final season with KU, two years after joining the program as a junior college transfer.
Early on in the season Naylor’s involvement was minimal, but as KU’s numbers in the receiving group were depleted he became more involved, eventually starting two games.
Previously, Naylor played at both Iowa Central Community College and Kennesaw State.
Programs around the country are dealing with the transfer trend to various extents, and seeing players seek out other options for their careers with the help of the portal. Per 247 Sports, 22 players from Power Five programs had their names officially entered into the system on Monday alone. Since Dec. 1, ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren reported, more than 220 FBS players have entered the portal.
As can be seen in 247 Sports’ transfer portal tracker, since KU football began its preseason activities in August, 11 players from this year’s roster have chosen to utilize the portal. Eight of them were seniors in 2020 and one was a walk-on. Senior offensive lineman Antione Frazier opted out before the season began and decided to transfer.
In normal circumstances, none of the seniors who played this year would’ve been eligible to return to KU and suit up again next season. But the NCAA’s blanket waiver that provides an extra year of eligibility for all fall sports athletes makes that possible if a football player so desires — and the coaches want him back.
Only two non-senior scholarship players from KU are currently in the portal: junior safety Davon Ferguson and freshman defensive lineman Clinton Anokwuru. Miles made it clear shortly after Ferguson stopped playing during the season that he didn’t expect the defensive back to return.
Elsewhere in the Big 12, players such as Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (grad transfer), Texas Class of 2020 QB Ja’Quinden Jackson and Oklahoma State Class of 2020 O-lineman Trent Pullen are among some of the more recent departures.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Baylor had seen five former players enter the portal this year. Iowa State had two, Oklahoma had four, Oklahoma State had four, TCU had eight, Texas had five, Texas Tech had four and West Virginia had four.
In Manhattan, 11 Kansas State players have entered the portal since August.
It remains to be seen which 2020 seniors KU welcomes back for a bonus senior year. Outside linebacker Kyron Johnson is the only Jayhawk who told reporters during the season he wants to take that path.
• Andrew Parchment, senior WR
• Stephon Robinson Jr., senior WR
• Kyle Mayberry, senior CB
• Davon Ferguson, junior S
• Api Mane, senior OL
• Kyle Thompson, senior P
• Ezra Naylor II, senior WR
• Antione Frazier, senior OL
• Julian Chandler, senior DB
• Clinton Anokwuru, freshman DL
• Hunter Kaufman, walk-on junior WR