Complete Guide to 2023 College Football Offseason

Morgan MoriartyJanuary 12, 2023

Complete Guide to 2023 College Football Offseason

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    Branson Robinson
    Branson RobinsonJohn Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Georgia Bulldogs are national champions once again, as the Bulldogs' 65-7 victory over TCU brought the 2022 college football season to a close.

    Unfortunately, when the clock hit double zeros in that game, it meant that the college football offseason is officially here.

    But the 2023 college football season is just seven months away. On Saturday, Aug. 26, Week Zero will officially kick off, marking the end of the offseason. In the months leading up to that, college football's news cycle won't stop.

    There will be players transferring, national signing day, coaching staff hires, spring practices and more throughout the offseason. We're here to guide you through the next seven months, with the biggest things on the calendar and what to keep an eye out for before Week Zero arrives.

NFL Draft Declaration Deadline

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    Bryce Young
    Bryce YoungSean Gardner/Getty Images

    The biggest thing to keep an eye on this month is college players declaring for the NFL draft. To be eligible for the draft, a player has to have graduated from high school three years ago. A player can opt to forgo their remaining college eligibility to enter the draft early.

    Players wanting to enter the 2023 NFL draft will have until Jan. 16 to file declaration papers with the NFL. The full list of approved early entries will then be sent to NFL teams on Jan. 20.

    Last year we saw 100 underclassmen declare early for the draft. 2023's number looks like it will finish around there, with more than 90 underclassmen having declared already, per The Athletic.

The Transfer Portal Is Ever-Changing

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    Sam Hartman
    Sam Hartman Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The transfer portal is the wild, wild west of college football recruiting. Now that players can transfer without having to sit out a year, thousands of players hit the portal. Last season, we saw over 3,000 FBS players enter the portal, including standout names such as quarterback Caleb Willians, wide receiver Jordan Addison and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, to name a few.

    This cylce, some big names have already entered the portal. Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman is headed to Notre Dame, Jackson State cornerback Travis Hunter is headed to Colorado to join Deion Sanders, and Virginia CB Fentrell Cypress has transferred to Florida State.

    Before the 2022 season kicked off, the NCAA implemented new transfer windows for players to enter the portal and not lose any eligibility. Here's more on the 45-day window for football players, via ESPN:

    "The board also approved 45- and 60-day windows for first-time athletes wishing to transfer to notify their schools and not lose a year of eligibility. The windows include exceptions for athletes who go through head-coaching changes, or have their scholarships reduced or canceled. ... A 45-day transfer window for fall sport athletes will open the day after championship selections are made, or from May 1 until May 15. The window includes 'reasonable accommodations' for FBS and FCS players competing in championship games."

    The 45-day window began on Dec. 5 and ends on Jan. 18.

National Signing Day, Part II

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    Nick Saban
    Nick SabanChris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    College football recruiting is a 365-day job within the sport. Coaches work around the clock to build classes for the next recruiting cycle and beyond.

    Due to college football's early signing period in December, a lot of teams already have their classes pretty settled. But there are still plenty of talented prospects that remain unsigned. Per the 247Sports composite rankings, just eight prospects in the top 200 are not yet signed with a team.

    Some of the biggest names that will commit next month include 5-star ATH Nyckoles Harbor, 5-star TE Duce Robinson, 4-star CB Rodrick Pleasant and 4-star TE Walker Lyons.

    5-star CB Cormani McClain has been verbally committed to Miami since October, but 247Sports' Crystal Ball projections has him ultimately signing with Florida. Four-star WR Raymond Cottrell is verbally committed to Texas A&M, but Crystal Ball projections have him possibly signing with Florida or Florida State.

    Here's a look at the top 10 recruiting classes for 2023, as of Jan. 11:

    1. Alabama (27 blue-chip recruits, seven 5-stars, 20 4-stars) 
    2. Georgia (22 blue-chip recruits, two 5-stars, 20 4-stars) 
    3. Texas (16 blue-chip recruits, four 5-stars, 12 4-stars) 
    4. Miami (17 blue-chip recruits, three 5-stars, 14 4-stars) 
    5. Oklahoma (16 blue-chip recruits, three 5-stars, 13 4-stars) 
    6. Ohio State (19 blue-chip recruits, one 5-star, 18 4-stars) 
    7. LSU (19 blue-chip recruits, one 5-star, 18 4-stars) 
    8. Notre Dame (20 blue-chip recruits, 20 4-stars) 
    9. Tennessee (13 blue-chip recruits, one 5-star, 12 4-stars) 
    10. Clemson (19 blue-chip recruits, one 5-star, 18 4-stars) 

    Last year, there were some fireworks between Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and Alabama's Nick Saban. After the Aggies landed the nation's No. 1 overall class for 2022, and finished as the highest-rated class in 247Sports history, Saban essentially accused TAMU of buying its players, using the NCAA's new NIL rules. Fisher fired back at Saban in a press conference, accusing Saban of being a narcissist and adding that "some people think they're God."

    The two coaches were public about having moved on from the heated feud over the summer, but it was still a dramatic storyline in the offseason. As the recruiting landscape with NIL deals continues to evolve, we'll see if more coaches make comments like these in the coming years.

Spring Practice

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    Steve Angeli
    Steve Angeli Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    In February, several teams will begin spring workouts, and most college football teams will start spring practice in March. Most teams culminate the practices with a spring scrimmage, which typically takes place in April.

    Most of these spring scrimmages don't mean much, but it's a chance for fans to see some younger guys get some early-career reps. A lot of times, it's the first opportunity for fans to get a look at top recruits from the most recent recruiting class. It's also a chance to see what a program will look like under a new head coach that was hired in the offseason.

    Sure, the spring scrimmages are far from the real thing in the fall, but it's a brief moment of relief to see some football in the middle of the offseason.

    Per FBSchedules, Penn State's spring scrimmage is on April 15, while Alabama and Nebraska will do their scrimmages on April 22. More teams will be added as announcements are made.

Transfer Portal, Part II

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    Spencer Rattler
    Spencer Rattler James Gilbert/Getty Images

    Thanks to the changes the NCAA made this offseason to the transfer portal timeline, we won't see the portal as active during the summer months. Since most players transfer in the winter, there is just a 15-day period for players to transfer from May 1 to 15.

    It could make for a flurry of activity during the period—by May, coaches have finalized their recruiting classes, and guys could be looking to go elsewhere if they think their places on depth charts have changed with the incoming players.

    It'll be interesting to see how many big-name players enter the portal in May.

The Preseason Expectations and Hype Machine Get Started

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    Jonathon Brooks
    Jonathon BrooksTim Warner/Getty Images

    Most of the months throughout the winter, spring and early summer months are filled with teams building their rosters, either through recruiting or the transfer portal. But team rosters are pretty set by the late summer.

    In late July and early August, the prediction season of college football—filled with expectations and hype surrounding various programs—begins.

    Throughout this time of year, position battles are broken down, key games are analyzed and picks for conference and national champion contenders are identified. There are also predictions regarding potential breakout stars, Heisman front-runners and which first-year head coaches are in the best position to succeed early. Preseason polls will be unveiled in July and August.

    Obviously there are no perfect predictions throughout this part of the offseason. But they are fun, and they help fans get through the final stretches of the offseason before kickoff officially arrives.

    B/R's college football staff will have updates, previews and plenty of content to share throughout the offseason, but we'll be counting down the days until Saturday, Aug. 26. Finally, it'll be time for a long-awaited kickoff.