Football

Tennessee Football is Hitting the Transfer Portal Hard

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The transfer portal was created by the NCAA in 2018 and has changed college football completely. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the transfer portal has erupted with multitudes of players entering every day. The Tennessee Volunteers have been on the negative and positive ends of the portal adding as well as losing a lot of players. With that being said, let’s look at some of the additions

Headliners From the 2021 Transfer Portal

The Vols lost a lot of their big-time players from last year through the portal and the draft, and that production will need to be replaced this upcoming season. They lost Josh Palmer to the third-round of the NFL draft and two other players were drafted as well, but the biggest loss for the Vols was losing both starting linebackers in Henry To’oto’o and Quavaris Crouch to the transfer portal. This made the addition of Juwan Mitchell, a linebacker from Texas, vital in replacing some of that production. Mitchell led the Longhorns in tackle last year and is great at playing downhill. He will look to slide into the starting linebacker role and most likely playing next to Jeremy Banks.

Javonta Payton announced in early May that he was gonna transfer from Mississippi State to Tennessee. Payton is a talented receiver who is very fast and runs great routes. Payton is a nice addition to an already speedy wide receiver room but with Heupel’s offense, Tennessee can never have enough of them. He will fit in well next to Jalin Hyatt and Velus Jones making opposing defenses cover a lot of ground. Payton is not one-dimensional however as he displayed an excellent ability in sitting in openings in zone coverages in flat and crossing routes. Should be exciting to see what he adds to the offense.

Quarterbacks

Tennessee lost half of their quarterback room from last year so they hit the portal to replace those players. Hendon Hooker transferred from Virginia Tech in early January. Before the 2020 season, Hooker was among many Heisman contenders but after an up and down season laced with injuries, he felt it was best to leave Blacksburg.

Hooker is a very athletic quarterback and uses that to his advantage very well. At Virginia Tech, play-action plays were very effective and Hooker was killer out in space. If defenses try to account for his legs, Hooker has a strong enough arm to make plays through the air as well. The biggest question is consistency and if he can figure that out, he will very much be in contention for the starting job this fall.

The other transfer quarterback the Vols picked up was Joe Milton from Michigan. Milton was the starter for the Wolverines at the beginning of the 2020 season and turned many heads after the first game. However, the rest of the season did not carry out the same way as Milton was benched and ultimately lead to his transfer. Milton has a very strong arm and can make big-time throws. He can also make plays on the ground, maybe not the degree as Hooker, but still very capable. He will play a big role in the quarterback competition in the upcoming months and has a very good shot at winning the job.

PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 21: Michigan Wolverines quarterback Joe Milton (5) during the college football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Michigan Wolverines on November 21, 2020 at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Much Needed Depth Brought In

There were many positions on Tennessee’s roster that had very few scholarship bodies and needed to be addressed immediately if the Vols wanted to succeed in the fall. These included cornerback and defensive line which Tennessee went out and got. The Vols picked up Kamal Hadden from Auburn as well as Roterius Torrence from Hutchinson Community College. Both are long and rangy corners who play physically. Tim Banks and the defensive staff will look to simplify the defense and playing physical and pressman will contribute to that.

The Vols picked up two defensive linemen through the portal in Da’Jon Terry from Kansas as well as Caleb Tremblay from USC. Many times last year as well as this spring, Tennessee’s defensive line was not getting much push. Adding Tremblay and Terry will go a long way in improving this unit’s play as both have experience playing football at a power-5 level.

Terry is a big body who will help stop the run in the middle. Standing at 6’4 and weighing 320, he brings a lot of power. Tremblay is more long and quick making the offensive linemen have to react faster and can provide rush through finesse. Both will provide much-needed depth at their positions.

LAWRENCE, KS – OCTOBER 31: Kansas Jayhawks defensive lineman DaJon Terry (95) sacks Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) in the first quarter of a Big 12 football game between the Iowa State Cyclones and Kansas Jayhawks on October 31, 2020 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Final Thoughts

Tennessee fans were quite uneasy looking at the holes on the roster after the mass exodus that occurred following Jeremy Pruitt’s firing and Josh Heupel and crew saw it as well. With a two-sided commodity like the transfer portal, the Vols decided to use it to their gain as well and added a lot of talent and depth through it. Picking up players who could potentially be the leading signal callers as well as very important depth pieces who could make big impacts was very key. It will be exciting to see how these transfers impact the team’s performance and contribute to Heupel’s first season on Rocky Top.


Thank you for reading my article on a recap of some of the players Tennessee picked up through the transfer portal. As always, make sure to check out my Twitter @Vedpat1810 for more great Tennessee Volunteers content, and follow us @OT_Heroics for more sports content and information.

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I am a student at the University of Tennessee. I love sports and writer for OTH covering Tennessee football.