On Friday, Alabama Crimson Tide rising junior wide receiver Isaiah Bond became the first player to enter the NCAA transfer portal following the abrupt retirement of head coach Nick Saban on Wednesday.
Alabama WR Isaiah Bond has entered the transfer portal, becoming the first Crimson Tide player to enter following Nick Saban's retirement.— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 12, 2024
Bond led Alabama with 48 catches this season, including the game-winning touchdown against Auburn.https://t.co/GTim4h3Rwj pic.twitter.com/cUXtQLuvOf
The decision by Bond is noteworthy as it regards the Texas Longhorns on a number of levels. Head coach Steve Sarkisian’s program is still looking for a slot receiver to replace Jordan Whittington and Bond was recruited by Texas as a member of the 2022 recruiting class with serious enough interest in the Longhorns that he planned to take a summer official visit to the Forty Acres before canceling it shortly before it was scheduled to happen. So there’s enough there to make Bond a player worth monitoring in the portal.
But there’s also plenty of actual buzz surrounding Bond and the Longhorns right now — Texas is considered the likely destination, according to a report from 247Sports.
Because of how Saban timed his decision, perhaps intentionally, players like Bond leaving Tuscaloosa only have a limited amount of time to determine their next move. Texas, for instance, starts classes next Tuesday, along with offseason conditioning, and making it onto campus for the spring semester is a how priority for players who intent on having a big impact in the fall.
And that’s a primary reason why the Longhorns were already linked to Bond hours before he entered the portal and why that that process needs to be so far along already.
Houston transfer wide receiver Matthew Golden certainly appeared to take notice of Bond’s decision to enter the portal.
— MGolden (@MatthewGolden_2) January 12, 2024
A consensus four-star prospect out of Buford (Ga.), Bond was ranked as the No. 52 player nationally and the No. 2 athlete in the 2022 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, committing to Florida in the summer before landing at Alabama. Bond showed off his electric speed on the track, winning the Georgia AAAAAA state title in the 100m (10.51) and 200m (21.19) in 2021.
The 5’11, 182-pounder showed promise as a freshman, contributing on special teams and starting one game while recording 17 receptions for 220 yards and one touchdown. In 2023, Bond took the next step, leading the Crimson Tide with 48 catches for 668 yards and four touchdowns, spending almost 60 percent of his snaps in the slot and the rest out wide, dropping only two passes, according to Pro Football Focus, and gaining 4.6 yards after the catch per reception with an average depth of target of 12.8 yards.
And, of course, it was Bond who scored the miraculous game-winning touchdown against Auburn on fourth down with 33 seconds remaining that kept Alabama’s College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Suffice it to say that Bond would be a big addition for Texas if Sarkisian and his staff can close with the former and once-again target.