Vol OL Looking for a “New Chapter” as Grad Transfer

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    Photo Credit: Will Boling/RTI

    On Monday afternoon, it was reported that two Tennessee Volunteer football players had put their names into the NCAA transfer portal. One of those players was redshirt junior offensive lineman Ryan Johnson. Later on Monday, Johnson addressed that report by confirming it and saying he will be a graduate transfer.

    Johnson took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to confirm that he plans to use his final year of collegiate eligibility elsewhere outside of Knoxville, but the decision wasn’t an easy one to come to. In a letter posted to his Twitter account, Johnson says it was not “an easy decision” to transfer from UT, but he believes a “new chapter” is needed.

    “I am writing this letter to let you know that as of this morning, I have requested that my name be placed into the graduate transfer portal,” Johnson wrote. “This has not been an easy decision for me and my family as I have been a Vol fan my whole life. But I believe that it is time for me to start a new chapter in my life and in my football career.”

    Johnson goes on to thank Tennessee fans, his teammates, the Vol football program, and the University of Tennessee for all their time and effort with him. Johnson also says that he will “always be a VFL” and will always cheer on Tennessee.

    “This is not my ‘good-bye’ to the University of Tennessee — it is just ‘farewell for now,'” Johnson wrote, “because Tennessee will always be Home Sweet Home to me.”

    This season, Johnson began the year as a starter at right guard for the first two games of the year, but he was relegated to a bench role as the season wore on. He started again in Tennessee’s home match-up with Mississippi State, but he’s been on the bench since and has rotated in to spell UT’s starters.

    Prior to this season, the 6-foot-6, 301-pound lineman from Brentwood, TN started in all 12 games in 2018, with 11 starts coming at center after Brandon Kennedy sustained a season-ending injury in practice after the Vols’ season opener. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Johnson appeared in all 12 games for Tennessee and made four starts at three different positions in the final month of the season.

    Johnson joined the Vols as a four-star prospect from Brentwood Academy in their 2016 signing class. All in all, Johnson appeared in 36 games as a Vol, making 19 starts.

    Johnson has not announced a transfer destination at this time.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.