There are some in college athletics who view the graduate transfer rule as part of the “transfer epidemic,” but Syracuse Orange wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo shows the other side of the rule.
Administrators, coaches, and even the NCAA are concerned about athletes taking advantage of the rule, but the reality is that it can provide a new opportunity for a student. In Etta-Tawo’s case, the chance to play in the NFL is more than just a chance of fulfilling his own dream, but also his brother’s dream.
With one game remaining, Etta-Tawo has already shattered Syracuse receiving records. He’s been the Orange’s biggest weapon in 2016, has played his way into NFL Draft conversation, and you could argue he’s the reason why Syracuse won against UConn and Boston College. Above all, his success has shown recruits what is possible in the Babers offense at the ACC level, a fact not lost on Dino.
"For someone to come over as a graduate (transfer) and to have the faith that in coming to this program that their dreams were going to be met," Babers said. "To be the first one to do that, I think that's humbling on my part that he had enough faith in these players and coaches to take that journey, to make that leap of faith. "
@DavidHaleESPN Where you would rank Amba Etta-Tawo among ACC grad transfers, this year and historically?— Kevin Wall (@kwallcuse) November 3, 2016
Hale responded in his November 4th mailbag:
Well, the all-time greatest graduate transfer has ACC ties -- but Russell Wilson went in the other direction. The ACC has had a few good ones, from Matt Patchan and Tyler Murphy at Boston College to Greg Paulus at Syracuse. But what Amba Etta-Tawo is doing this year is just off the charts. When our pal Andrea Adelson put together a list of best transfers for 2016, he wasn’t even named, but here he is on the brink of one of the elite receiver seasons in conference history. In other words, he’s probably not ahead of Wilson nationally, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a graduate transfer in ACC history who’s done more.
Let’s let that sink in. The only graduate transfer that can be placed ahead of Etta-Tawo is Russell Wilson, who took the Wisconsin Badgers to the Rose Bowl during his lone year in Madison.
When it was announced that Etta-Tawo was transferring to Syracuse to finish his career, it seemed like a case where the Orange were grabbing a veteran player to help Steve Ishmael, Ervin Phillips, and Brisly Estime as they transitioned to the Dino Babers offense. Most of us figured that Etta-Tawo would allow Babers the ability to add depth at the position. Little did we know what his transfer would really mean to the Orange, giving fans something to watch for in every game, no matter the result.
So while a bunch of people with six- and seven-figure contracts think it’s unfair (or even #disloyal) for an athlete to graduate and transfer, the fact remains that these athletes deserve the opportunity. Who knows, 2016-17 might become the “Year of the Graduate Transfer” here at Syracuse since Andrew White and John Gillon are already making an impact with the Orange basketball team.