It’s been a busy week for Tennessee’s football team, and the Vols got even more good news on Wednesday afternoon.
Just hours after star offensive lineman Trey Smith announced he would be returning to Tennessee for his senior season, the Vols added a grad transfer wide receiver to their roster. Velus Jones Jr., a wide receiver who played for the USC Trojans the last three seasons, announced on Twitter on Thursday that he is transferring to Tennessee.
Thank you God🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/aXbNfkk64K
— Velus Jones Jr.⚡️ (@VelusJr) January 9, 2020
Jones considered transferring from USC in the spring but ultimately decided to stay with the Trojans and try to carve out more of a role as a pass catcher. That didn’t come to fruition for Jones in 2019, and now he’s following former USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin to Tennessee.
Martin coached Jones in his first three years at USC, with 2019 being the first season Jones played without Martin as his coach. Now, the two are reunited at UT.
At USC, the speedy wideout was used primarily as a kick returner, though he found more traction as a receiver in 2018, Martin’s last year as OC of the Trojans. That season, Jones caught 24 passes for 266 yards and his first receiving touchdown. He also carried the ball six times for 13 yards and his first career rushing touchdown.
This past season, Jones was passed over by other USC receivers on the depth chart and finished with just six catches for 35 yards. He did, however, return a kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown and averaged 24.3 yards per return.
In his USC career, the redshirt junior appeared in 38 games and caught 36 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown, carried the ball 11 times for 28 yards and a score, and returned 81 kicks for 1,947 yards and a touchdown. He totaled 2,322 all-purpose yards for the Trojans.
Coming out of high school, Jones was a high three-star prospect from Saraland, Alabama in the 2016 class. The 6-foot, 190-pound receiver chose USC over offers from Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, and others. Tennessee had offered him at the time as well.
Jones is expected to be eligible to play immediately in 2020 since he is a graduate transfer.
Tennessee is losing Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, and Tyler Byrd from their receiving corps this offseason after the trio graduated from UT. The Vols welcome back their third-leading receiver in Josh Palmer, and senior Brandon Johnson chose to redshirt this season to retain another year of eligibility for 2020. Tennessee also returns Ramel Keyton and Cedric Tillman at the position along with Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs becoming eligible for the 2020 season. The Vols also signed four-stars Jalin Hyatt and Jimmy Calloway as receivers in the early signing period for the 2020 class.
Jones is the third player to join the Vols as a transfer this week. Nebraska wide receiver Miles Jones is transferring to Tennessee as a walk-on, and it’s expected he will have to sit out the 2020 season. Georgia offensive lineman Cade Mays is transferring to Tennessee as well, and his lawyer believes there’s a good chance he can get immediate eligibility.