Jeremy Pruitt had an update on both of Tennessee’s incoming transfers on Thursday during his press conference to kick off the start of fall camp.
Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs is expected to redshirt and sit out the 2019 season, according to Pruitt.
Pruitt said on Thursday that while they haven’t heard back from the NCAA officially about Gibbs, Tennessee has a good feeling about what his status will be and are preparing accordingly.
“We probably have a really good idea about Deangelo. He’s gonna redshirt and sit out this year,” Pruitt stated. “I think moving within the SEC…you just don’t transfer from one SEC school to the other without being a graduate transfer, and Deangelo knew that when he came here. He came here because he believed in the coaching staff and his future development in the game of football.”
As for Michigan defensive lineman transfer Aubrey Solomon, Tennessee is still playing the waiting game there.
“Aubrey, we’ve not heard anything yet,” Pruitt said. “And hey, it could be tomorrow, it could be two weeks from now, but whenever it happens it’ll happen.”
Coming out of high school, Gibbs was rated as a four-star and was ranked as the No. 49 overall player and No. 4 safety in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete played for Grayson High School, the same high school as former five-star Tennessee offensive tackle Wanya Morris played at this past season. Gibbs played mainly on defense in high school, but he also played at wide receiver.
Tennessee recruited Gibbs while he was in high school. The Vols’ previous coaching staff hosted him twice on unofficial visits in the fall of 2016, and he unofficially visited UT twice at the beginning of 2016 as well. But he ultimately signed with Georgia and enrolled early at UGA.
In two seasons with Georgia, Gibbs appeared in 13 total games, totaling 10 tackles. Gibbs never quite lived up to his billing as a defender at Georgia, and part of that had to do with off-field issues.
Gibbs was away from Georgia’s program due to a “medical issue” when the Bulldogs were preparing for their College Football Playoff run. He didn’t travel with the team when they played Georgia Tech, nor was he with the team when they faced Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.
This past year, Gibbs wasn’t with Georgia as they prepared for their bowl game against Texas, and he wasn’t enrolled at UGA to start the spring semester either.
During the spring, Gibbs started out at wide receiver then was moved to defensive back at the midway point of practices. Pruitt says that during Gibbs’ redshirt year, he and UT’s coaches will try to figure out where Gibbs fits best.
“The big key for (Gibbs) is what side of the ball is he gonna play on?” Pruitt explained. “The guy can play either side of the ball, but it’s important for us for the next nine months to make sure that he’s at the right position so that he can continue to grow and develop as a football player, so when he does get an opportunity to be eligible, he’s ready to contribute.”
Defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon announced his decision to transfer off of Michigan’s roster in the winter and chose Tennessee as his transfer destination not long after.
The 6-foot-3, 299-pound lineman joined Michigan in 2017 as a five-star prospect. Solomon played for Lee County High School in Leesburg, Georgia. Coming out of high school, Solomon was a consensus five-star prospect and was rated as the No. 23 overall player and No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
As a true freshman in 2017, Solomon appeared in all 13 games and totaled 18 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Solomon battled injuries as a sophomore this past season and only appeared in six games, totaling six tackles.
Tennessee lost all three starting defensive linemen from their 2018 roster due to graduation, and the Vols only return one player with a start in his career along the defensive line heading into the 2019 season. Emmit Gooden, a former four-star JUCO prospect, played in all 12 games for the Vols last season and started the season finale against Vanderbilt. Gooden totaled 33 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and a sack last season.
Aside from Gooden, the Vols return a grand total of 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a sack among the rest of their defensive linemen who were on the roster last season. And the bulk of that production comes from junior lineman Matthew Butler (17 tackles, 1.5 TFLs).
Getting Solomon eligible immediately would be a huge boost to Tennessee’s defensive line group. But as for now, Pruitt and the rest of UT’s coaching staff will continue to wait to hear on his status.