There will be no Everett Golson or Braxton Miller-type transfers for the Vols in 2015, but that didn’t stop Butch Jones from adding a couple transfers at positions in need of depth.
Jones took advantage of the graduate transfer rule in particular, which allows undergrad players (without past significant academic or behavioral issues) who have completed their degree, to transfer without sitting out as long as they enroll in a graduate program that isn’t offered at their original school.
RB Ralph David Abernathy IV, Cincinnati
Jones didn’t have to work hard to get in the door with to Abernathy, who he recruited originally at his last stop in Cincinnati. Abernathy is also the older brother of 2015 Vol cornerback signee Micah Abernathy, who is arriving on campus this summer as well.
He’ll be maybe the smallest player on the roster at 5-7, 160 pounds, but he fits in well with what the Vols need as they look for players who can help take a few touches at running back to spell the top duo of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Jones has called the SEC a “three-back league” at times and Abernathy gives the Vols more depth at a spot that is top-heavy right now.
Abernathy’s also a versatile player with top-end speed that Jones and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord can find ways to get the ball to in creative ways. Abernathy, who sat out a majority of the 2014 season with injury, piled up 884 rushing yards, 518 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns combined in 2012 and 2013. He also has 87 career kickoff return attempts, giving the Vols more depth and options at that spot alongside Evan Berry.
At best, Abernathy can become a major weapon on offense and special teams for the Vols in 2015, and at worst, he gives the Vols some depth and a player who can fill the versatile role similar to what Devrin Young did for UT in 2014.
P Nathan Renfro, Maryland
It’s been somewhat assumed that incoming freshman Tommy Townsend would take the punting job, and he still very well might. But the Vols found some depth and competition for Townsend and walk-on Trevor Daniel in the form of Renfro, a Brentwood, TN native, who was a three-year starter at Maryland.
Renfro had his best season in 2014, averaging 41.5 yards per punt with a long of 64. That’s very comparable to Matt Darr, UT’s 2014 starter at punter, who averaged 42.2 yards per attempt his senior year – good enough to earn him an NFL camp opportunity with the Miami Dolphins.
Renfro gives the Vols a stable option who could allow Townsend to redshirt and develop for one season, or somebody who at least will push the others and give the Vols depth and competition at a spot where UT has questions in 2015.