The Red Raider offense will look different the next time they take the field, as wide receivers Winston Eubanks and Charles Headen III announced their entrances into the NCAA transfer portal on July 17.
Both players announced their decisions via their Instagram and Twitter accounts. The statements from the wideouts came just hours after the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) decided to suspend all 2020 fall sports events and championships.
The now former SU athletes said the PSAC’s suspension of fall sports played the largest role in their decisions.
“I ultimately was not shocked by the decision the PSAC made,” Eubanks said. “I was very much anticipating it after seeing other conferences suspend their fall athletics, but in the end after weighing my options and talking to my coaches, entering the transfer portal was the best option for me.”
“I really wanted to finish my playing career with Shippensburg,” Headen added. “But with me entering my last semester at Ship and looking ahead to what I want to accomplish down the road, staying at Ship was just not plausible.”
In addition to thinking about their playing careers, both wide receivers are striving to earn their master’s degrees. They both added that SU does not offer a master’s degree in the field of work they are looking to pursue in the future.
With their entrance into the transfer portal, both athletes will receive the opportunity to achieve their master’s degree as well as perform on the football field at the next school of their choosing.
“Pursuing my master’s degree was the other major component of my decision,” Eubanks said. “At the end of the day we are student athletes, and the student part comes first. So, if I had stayed here at Ship I would not be able to accomplish my academic goals since the university does not offer a program that lines up with the career I hope to pursue.”
While both players will no longer represent the Red Raiders, they said their decision will not hinder their confidence and determination on the football field. Both see this as an opportunity to potentially play at an even higher level.
“With entering the transfer portal, it allows me to get looks from all NCAA schools,” Headen said. “This means if a coach thinks I can play at the Division I level; I could get the chance to face tougher competition.”
“I see this almost as a new beginning,” Eubanks added. “My goal will stay the same wherever I go and that is to be the best wide receiver ever to step on the field at that school. That was my mentality when I came to Ship, and it will be no different with my next team.”
Both players leave SU with large shoes to fill. For the last three seasons, the wide receivers have become ingrained in the Red Raider offense and key targets for quarterback Brycen Mussina.
In his three seasons on the field, Eubanks boasts a noteworthy career stat line of 148 receptions for 2,853 yards and 28 receiving touchdowns. Additionally, the redshirt-senior is a 3-Time All-PSAC Eastern Division First Team member (2017-2019) and was named the 2017 Red Raider “Impact” Player of the Year.
Headen has also dominated the PSAC in his three-year tenure, compiling 80 receptions for 909 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns. On top of that, the redshirt-junior has played a significant role in the Raiders’ special teams as he owns 273 kick return yards on 15 attempts.
With 3,762 receiving yards combined between Eubanks and Headen, SU starting quarterback Brycen Mussina knows the next group of wide receivers will need to step up.
“While losing great players like Winston and Chuck [Charles] is tough, we will use this to get better,” Mussina said. “It will be very interesting to see how opposing defenses will play us now with different guys lined up out there. It will be an adjustment not having 3 and 13 out there, but we’ll make it happen.”
In the end, both Eubanks and Headen said they will miss being part of the Red Raider community and hearing the roars of Seth Grove Stadium at a Saturday home game. However, both added that wherever they end up, they will always play with Red Raider pride.
“We have one of the best atmospheres in the PSAC here at Ship, and I’m going to really miss being a part of that,” Headen said. “Along with that, I have some of my best friends and some of the best coaches in the world here and leaving them is really tough.”
“Since we have such a small community here at Ship, the closeness with the fans, professors, and classmates is what I’ll miss most,” Eubanks added. “Sometimes I think football is more of a business, but at Ship the relationships and bonds you build are real, and I’m going to carry and cherish those forever.”