Tatum: “No Bad Blood” in Decision to Transfer

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    On Tuesday, it was reported that redshirt junior offensive lineman Marcus Tatum had put his name in the NCAA transfer portal. On Wednesday, Tatum confirmed that report and stated that his decision to transfer has nothing to do with any ill will towards UT or Tennessee’s coaches.

    Tatum posted a letter to Vol fans on his Twitter account on Wednesday thanking them and the university for all the support he’s received during his four years at Tennessee. He then clarified that his decision to transfer was a “mutual” one, and UT’s coaches have helped him “every step of the way” in the process.

    “I never felt anything but love and support, and I would like to thank you all,” Tatum wrote. “I will always be a VFL, but it is time for me to move on in my career and pursue different opportunities for myself as a person and as a player as a graduate transfer. There is no bad blood, and nothing bad between me and the coaches. It has been a mutual situation, and they have been great in helping me every step of the way. They want what is best for me just as much as I do.”

    Tatum appeared in all 12 of Tennessee’s regular season contests this year and started the first two games of the season at right tackle. He made a third start in the Vols’ contest against UAB in November.

    The 6-foot-6, 316-pound lineman from Daytona Beach, Florida began the season as a starter for the Vols, but he was eventually unseated by five-star freshman Darnell Wright. Redshirt sophomore K’Rojhn Calbert has also played at right tackle this season.

    Tatum joined the Vols as an undersized offensive tackle project in the Butch Jones era. Tatum signed with Tennessee as a three-star prospect in the 2016 class and played in two games due to the rash of injuries the Vols suffered along the offensive line. At only 265 pounds, Tatum was far from ready for game action, but he played against Alabama and Tennessee Tech as a freshman.

    As a sophomore in 2017, Tatum played in four games and made three starts before suffering an injury and taking a medical redshirt in the second half of the season. Tatum played extensively in his redshirt sophomore year in 2018, appearing in all 12 games and starting five contests.

    Tatum has added over 50 pounds of mass to his 6-foot-6 frame since joining the Vols, and he was praised by head coach Jeremy Pruitt this offseason for his hard work and dedication in the weight room and on the practice field.

    The Vols have now lost three players to transfer since the end of the regular season. Tatum is joined by fellow redshirt junior offensive lineman Ryan Johnson and freshman wide receiver Jerrod Means as players to enter the transfer portal off UT’s roster this week.

    With both Tatum and Johnson’s decisions to transfer, the Vols now have just 11 scholarship offensive linemen on their roster moving forward. Tennessee could lose another scholarship lineman this offseason should junior Trey Smith elect to forgo his senior season for the 2020 NFL Draft.

    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.