WENTZVILLE, Mo. — In 2021, the Holt Indians had a season to remember.
"It was huge," senior Jackson Smith said. "It was a dream."
The undersized yet productive wide receiver made scoring touchdowns look like riding a bike.
He would leave his mark as one of the best in school history. Smith also helped lead his team to the state title game.
The only thing he had yet to haul in.
"Really just to get my college paid for so my parents didn't have to worry about it," Smith said.
With video game-like numbers, Smith thought college offers would rack up like his receiving yards. He thought.
"I've had many schools tell me that they would love to offer me and I definitely could play there, it's just that they don't have the amount of scholarships and they can't give any out to me," he said.
"The transfer portal is on fire, did you know that." Josh Pate 247 sports
In just four years, moments like these are now becoming a thing of the past.
"Well, it's exploded, we had over 2,000 kids now in the portal," said Carl Reed.
CBS and 247 college football analyst Carl Reed said the intentions of the portal are good.
"Every person in the world deserves to be able to make whatever choice that they think is best for them," Reed said.
Meanwhile, top programs are opening their eyes to players they slept on.
"Three of the last Heisman trophy winners were transfers," said FOX sports anchor Rob Stone.
But Reed said it's not all sunshine and rainbows, it's a business.
"The dangers are, you could go in and drop a level, the dangers are you could be out of college football," Reed said. "There are several players who enter the portal and they never find another program to go to."
According to Rivals' transfer portal, as of Jan. 24, 1,254 FBS players entered the transfer portal since Aug. 1. Fifty-four of them have withdrawn from the portal, 625 found new schools and 575 remain in the portal.
"You're not going to get to where you want to go, you're going to go somewhere where somebody will take you," Reed said.
Reed suggests athletes grab their hard hats and get to work, just like Smith intends on doing despite not being able to live out his dream.
"I mean it sucks but I mean just what my parents have always taught me, is control what you can control," Smith said.
That means controlling how hard you work, and most importantly controlling your emotions. Because you never know who's waiting to take what's yours.
"Give yourself an opportunity to make the situation work before you walk away, and that education you walking away from that you putting on the line, that still does have a lot of value so think clearly before you make that decision," Reed said.