Some interesting news has surfaced in regards to one of Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel’s former quarterbacks. While he was at the University of Central Florida, Heupel was the coach of quarterback Dillon Gabriel. On Saturday afternoon, Gabriel announced that he was officially entering the transfer portal.
The rising senior quarterback has been the starting quarterback for the Golden Knights for the past three seasons.
“After much prayer and reflection, I have decided my journey at UCF has come to an end,” Gabriel said on a post on social media. “I will be entering the transfer portal to explore other opportunities.”
Gabriel then went on to thank his former teammates and coaches for their support during his career.
In his first two seasons under Heupel, Gabriel threw for more 3,500 yards in each. Additionally, Gabriel had more than 390 passing attempts in each season under Heupel. However, Gabriel broke his collarbone against Louisville in Week 3 after just 102 passing attempts this year. The junior quarterback has not returned to the field since the injury under UCF’s new head coach Gus Malzhan.
In 2019, Heupel and Gabriel led the team to a 10-3 record with a bowl win over Marshall. In the shortened 2020 season, the duo went 6-4 while at UCF with a bowl loss to BYU.
With the success that Heupel and Gabriel had together, many Tennessee fans had high expectations for increased quarterback production at Tennessee in 2021. Now that the regular season is over, it is clear to see that reality with Heupel’s impact on Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker.
In Heupel and Hooker’s first regular season together, Hooker racked up 2,411 yards on 170 completions with a 70 percent accuracy rate. Additionally, he threw for 24 touchdowns, all of which are career highs.
It is worth nothing, though, Dillon Gabriel did not have a positive reaction to Heupel’s original departure from UCF.
In a post from Jan. 27, Gabriel wrote on Instagram, “Lol… No goodbye? Not even a phone call? Crazyyyy.”
The instagram post, likely stemming from an emotional reaction, was deleted within ten minutes.