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Tennessee’s Transfer Success Could Entice Former Five-Star to Knoxville

Eli Ricks Transfer
Former LSU and five-star recruit Eli Ricks has entered the transfer portal. Photo via Eli Ricks (@eliasricks) on Twitter.

The transfer portal just had a few more stars added to it as former five-star recruit Elias Ricks has officially entered the portal according to Rivals.

Ricks joined the LSU program in December of 2019 and spent the last two seasons under Tigers’ head coach Ed Orgeron. However, with the turnover happening at LSU this year, it looks as though Ricks is planning on finding a new team.

While there aren’t any direct ties to Tennessee on the surface, Knoxville may be a welcoming landing spot for Ricks. With Josh Heupel’s success from transfer portal players in his first season, he proved that Tennessee is a place where transfer players can come in and thrive.

During the last off-season, Heupel and his staff brought in ten players from the transfer portal. Many of those players have been instrumental in leading Tennessee to a bowl appearance for the second time in five years.

Tennessee defensive backs
Tennessee defensive back Brandon Turnage. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Brandon Turnage, Kamal Hadden, William Mohan, Juwan Mitchell, Da’Jon Terry, Caleb Tremblay, JaVonta Payton, Joe Milton III, Chase McGrath, and Hendon Hooker all came to Tennessee last year via the portal. In fact, some of them have seen the most success in their career while playing at Tennessee.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker is likely the most prominent name on the list, setting and breaking records at Tennessee. However, when looking at the defensive players, it’s clear to tell the combined effort has been critical for Tennessee.

Tremblay has been an important piece on the defensive line in every game this year, while Terry has played in all but one game. Meanwhile, after only playing in two of the first four games of the year, defensive back Turnage has an appearance in each game since week five. Before sustaining an injury that required a surgical procedure, Mitchell was a starting linebacker on Tennessee’s game one roster. And lastly, from a special teams perspective, McGrath has been the Vols’ kicker throughout the entirety of the season.

Tremblay, a transfer from USC last year, spoke about his first year with Tennessee on Tuesday.

“Honestly, it’s been a blessing,” Tremblay said to the media. “It went by way faster than I thought it was going to go. Just comes up on you real quick. But, man, the experience has been unbelievable. Basically, just coming from USC and comparing it to that, it’s been an unbelievable experience. The fans here are amazing. It’s just been a blessing.”

Eli Ricks Transfer
Tennessee defensive lineman, No. 97, Caleb Tremblay. Photo via Caleb Tremblay (@ctremblay49) on Twitter.

It isn’t hard to tell the impact Tennessee has made on Tremblay in just one year as a transfer player. And it is very likely that mindset is shared by other Vol players, as well.

After playing in the first six games this season, former LSU cornerback Eli Ricks suffered an injury that has taken him out of the season. However, in those six games, Ricks had 11 total tackles, nine of which were solo, and an interception against UCLA. Additionally, Ricks was a freshman All-American selection for the Tigers in 2020.

Ricks, a sophomore from California, was the second-ranked cornerback in the 2020 class, and the No. 14 overall recruiting prospect. Being a Top 25 overall player from the class, Ricks’ original recruitment garnered the attention of the most prominent teams from around the league. At this time, there has been no indication on where Ricks will transfer to.

However, with the immediate success that transfer players have shown in Heupel and defensive coordinator Tim Banks’ system, Tennessee may wind up an enticing landing spot if Ricks wants to stay in the SEC.

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