268. That is the total number of high school football players that transferred during or before the 2018 season (AZCentral). Transfer students can be wildcards; some can change a team for the better, while others can take down a team’s chemistry.
Either way, transfers change the game and can tilt the scales for any team. The Arizona Interscholastic Association recognizes how important transfers are, so that is why they created the transfer rule. Transfers have to wait for five games before they can step out onto the field during game nights.
During the 2018 season, Notre Dame Prep obtained a total of five transfers, including Ian Williamson, a running back who came from Saguaro High School. Williamson transferred before the 2018 season when he was a sophomore. When asked why he transferred, Williamson said, “Their academics weren’t close to what I wanted…I knew that I could learn so much more if I went to a private school.”
Prior to this season, Williamson played a total of three games on varsity and was held to two carries during those three games. Now that he has a full season to play, Williamson feels a lot better. “I feel like I have more of an impact on the team,” he said. During the past four games, Williamson has had ten carries for 78 yards and has scored three touchdowns. When asked about his first touchdown of the year against Gilbert, he said that “It was a sign that all my work has paid off…it made me realize that I made the right decision.”
While last year’s transfers are blowing up the game this season, there are some sophomores that are waiting for their chance. One of these transfers is Jake Burrow, a center out of Boulder Creek High School. When asked about why he left Boulder Creek, Burrow said, “I felt like I wasn’t growing as a student or an athlete. I knew that if I wanted to learn more I needed to go somewhere else.”
While Boulder Creek will always have a place in his heart, Burrow needed to find a new place to go. When asked why he chose NDP over other high schools that are closer in distance, Burrow said, “Well, none of the other schools that were closer didn’t have nearly as good of an education. So, I wanted to choose somewhere that was the best out of all of them and that was NDP.”
Although the thought of going to NDP and getting a better education sounded simple, the journey was not an easy one. Even though the process was tough, Burrow can now put that behind him and focus on his new school. Even if he is at a new school, Burrow still misses Boulder Creek. When asked about the differences between the two schools, he said, “There definitely is a student population difference. Also, the football team is a lot more welcoming.”
Now that Burrow is attending the school he wants to be at and is all settled in, Burrow can focus on football and education. Before week 5 Burrow could only focus on his education, but now that his suspension is lifted, he can focus on improving himself and the team. When asked about the mental toll that the wait had on him, Burrow said, “It sucks. I don’t really like it, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to be able to play on varsity and help the team.” Burrow made his first appearance for the football team against Cactus Shadows on September 27th.
While the game of football has not changed all that much over the past 10-20 years, there are outside factors that are shifting the way it is played and viewed. One of these major factors is transfers, and they have affected every Phoenix high school in some way, whether it is more wins and championships or the opposite.