The NCAA transfer portal is helping to shape perception ahead of the 2022 season, and major decisions are still coming in by the day.
Arguably the most coveted player on the market is FCS All-American linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey, who wrapped up visits to Texas and UCF in the last week. Texas A&M, Auburn, Ole Miss and others also offered the senior a chance to play at a higher level this season. In the end, the University of Texas won the sweepstakes.
“This is my life I’m playing with,” Tucker-Dorsey told Sports Illustrated late Thursday. “I’ve got six months left to play college football to see if I’m going to be able to get that chance at the next opportunity. So I’m gonna make sure I check off all the boxes to find the perfect situation for me.
“I feel like that’s what it is at the University of Texas. We’re going to the University of Texas.”
The 5’10”, 214-pound redshirt junior, who registered 116 tackles (including 9 tackles for loss), 2.5 sacks and four interceptions for James Madison in 2021, let Steve Sarkisian’s staff know of his commitment decision before he left campus midweek.
“The biggest part of the decision is trying to get to that next level by playing on a bigger stage,” Tucker-Dorsey says. “They’ve got a really good schedule this year. It’s the Big 12, and Texas is a football state so it really doesn’t get too much bigger.
“The facilities stood out to me the most. It’s big-time football; that’s what I dreamed of and that’s what I wanted coming out of high school. That and the big, huge stadium with 100,000 [fans] in the atmosphere—it felt real. It’s what I’ve been missing out on.”
Texas has reloaded through the transfer portal since its 5–7 season came to a conclusion last year and the expectations are high in Austin. It has a marquee, national matchup against preseason No. 1 Alabama at home Sept. 10.
Tucker-Dorsey smiles thinking about the opponent and stage relative to the first four years of his college football experience.
“I always knew that I was one of those guys,” he says. “I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I just know that with my talent level, and what God blessed me with, it was big. So this is kind of fulfilling, but it really makes me go harder. I’m in a better position, but it doesn’t matter if I don’t go out there and prove myself.”
In taking the official visits to UCF and Texas, especially with the expedited time line, Tucker-Dorsey was able to initiate discussion points with defensive coaches to make sure it aligned with what he wanted for his last year of college ball.
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He worked through his own checklist for each suitor, including vision, fit, utilization, scheme, depth at the linebacker position, areas for improvement, current players who are considered among the hardest working on the roster and even the number (No. 2) he could wear while sporting the burnt orange.
Tucker-Dorsey also spent time with the nutrition team under Sarkisian while in town, already laying out the physical goals for the summer and the 2022 season alike. No stone was left unturned during his time at Texas this week. The trip was capped with a film session with his soon-to-be position coach Jeff Choate.
“I wanted to be a plug-and-play guy at that Will linebacker spot,” Tucker-Dorsey says. “I have a chance to compete in the boundary, and I’m a versatile player so they’ll use me in pass coverage but also blitzing, checking running backs out of the backfield, zone coverage, stuff like that.
“I’m bringing passion, I’m bringing a dog [mentality] and leadership. I’ve got an old-school mentality when it comes to this football thing. I don’t want to be your friend. I’m gonna be sportsmanlike, but when we’re on that field it’s you versus me.”
Tucker-Dorsey is planning on moving to Austin on Monday to get the final stage of his college career going.
“I knew going into it, I would have a short window,” he says. “I didn’t want to miss any workouts or anything. I wanted to start to build and lock in as soon as possible.”
The newest Longhorn defender plans on making the most of his time at the highest level of Power 5 football, where his experience and leadership could help bolster a unit that stood ranked No. 100 in total defense among FBS programs last season.
“You’re getting a good one; I promise you that,” Tucker-Dorsey says. “Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do. Put the work in, put your head down and just keep believing. That’s the most important thing … keep pushing.
Tucker-Dorsey during his official visit to Texas this week.
The facilities in Austin “fulfilled” a lifelong dream to play on a national stage.
Wearing the No. 2, as he did at JMU, factored into the decision.
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