The transfer portal is, arguably, hotter than ever with the 2021 bowl season rapidly approaching.
In the lead-up to Josh Heupel’s inaugural season at Tennessee, Heupel and his staff were proficient in the portal, bringing in some of the most dynamic players on Tennessee’s roster. In a day and age where players can freely move around the country and in conferences, the portal has become an extremely valuable tool. Instead of a gamble on a player coming out of high school, the transfer portal gives coaches access to players who have already been through the grind of a college football season.
It’s hard to say where most of these players are going to end up on the other side of the portal. But for some of them, Tennessee may present the best option. With Heupel’s success developing transfer portal players in year one, it’s more than believable that other players can flourish in his system as well.
Last year, entering 2021, Tennessee brought in ten players from the portal. Many of those players have had a significant impact on securing Tennessee’s bowl appearance this year. Brandon Turnage, Kamal Hadden, William Mohan, Juwan Mitchell, Da’Jon Terry, Caleb Tremblay, JaVonta Payton, Joe Milton III, Chase McGrath, and Hendon Hooker are all transfer portal players, many of whom found the most success in their career at Tennessee.
Again, with seemingly countless players in the portal, it’s tricky to predict where many of them could end up. However, there are certain names on the list that Tennessee fans should keep an eye on. Whether it is due to position, a nearby previous location, or old ties to Tennessee in some ways, here is a list of names that could be impactful for Tennessee this off-season.
Star rankings for each player are via 247 Sports’ recruiting services.
EDGE – Khris Bogle – Previously at Florida
-From the class of 2019, Tennessee was high on Bogle’s list during his recruitment. The former Alabama commit ended up saying no to the Tide originally, before committing to Florida over Miami. Bogle was a four-star player in the high school recruiting rankings.
Safety – Brendon Harris – Previously at Vanderbilt
-Four-star safety in the class of 2018 that was originally committed to Tennessee in May of 2017. However, in October of 2017, Harris decommitted from Tennessee and instead committed to Vanderbilt.
CB – Eli Ricks – Previously at LSU
-Former five-star cornerback from California from the class of 2020.
QB – Adrian Martinez – Previously at Nebraska
-A record-setting quarterback at the University of Nebraska that was previously committed to Tennessee in the spring of 2017. After Tennessee made the switch to Jeremy Pruitt, the former four-star quarterback took his talents to Nebraska before entering the portal on Thursday.
EDGE – Lloyd Summerall – Previously at Florida
-Four-star defensive end from the class of 2019. Tennessee did extend Summerall an offer but did not seem to be too high on his initial list.
WR – Cam Johnson – Previously at Vanderbilt
-Former class of 2018 four-star recruit out of Brentwood Academy in Nashville. Johnson was given an offer from Tennessee and took an unofficial visit to Knoxville about eight months before committing to Vanderbilt.
RB – Zach Evans – Previously at TCU
-A five-star recruit from the class of 2020, Evans was the second-ranked running back in his class. After a wild and confusing recruitment that saw him leave Georgia, Tennessee was the final visit he took before committing to TCU in May of 2020.
RB – Jahmyr Gibbs – Previously at Georgia Tech
-Former four-star recruit in the class of 2020. Gibbs was not offered a scholarship by Tennessee at the time, despite receiving other offers from Florida, Alabama, LSU, and Michigan.
WR – Kaedin Robinson – Previously at UCF
-As a three-star JUCO prospect in the class of 2021, Robinson was the second-ranked junior college player out of the state of North Carolina. At the time of his commitment, Josh Heupel was the head coach at UCF and his primary recruiter was Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh.
QB – Dillon Gabriel – Previously at UCF
-Gabriel was a tremendous quarterback in his first two years at UCF under the tutelage of Josh Heupel. However, Gabriel does look to be on his way to Ole Miss, likely replacing quarterback Matt Corral in Lane Kiffin’s electric offense.
LB – Eugene Asante – Previously at North Carolina
-Formerly a four-star prospect in the class of 2019, Asante didn’t look to have Tennessee very high on his last. Although, an offer was given to Asante by Tennessee in January of 2019.
LB – Momo Sanogo – Previously at Ole Miss
-As a three-star recruit from Plano, TX, Sanogo committed to Ole Miss in February of 2017. Tennessee did not offer him at the time of his recruitment, but he is a former SEC linebacker with experience.
WR – Theo Wease – Previously at Oklahoma
-Due to the disfunction and turnover happening at Oklahoma, this former five-star receiver from the class of 2019 looks to be on the move. As a recruit, Wease was the fourth-ranked player in the state of Texas and the 21st overall player in the nation. Tennessee did extend Wease an offer at the time, but the Vols didn’t seem to be very high on the receiver’s list.
ATH – Ladarius Tennison – Previously at Auburn
-Formerly a four-star athlete in the class of 2020, Tennison committed to Auburn in September of 2019. Tennessee did not extend an offer to the Florida native at the time of his recruitment.
WR – Tayvion Robinson – Previously at Virginia Tech
-Robinson was a four-star recruit from Virginia in the 2019 class and hit the transfer portal on Thursday. Tennessee did extend an offer to Robinson, although, he did not take any official visits to Knoxville.
QB – Spencer Rattler – Previously at Oklahoma
-Once the top-ranked quarterback in the country, Rattler was a five-star quarterback from the class of 2019, taking his talents to Oklahoma. However, after disruption throughout the season, Rattler was benched during the season. Tennessee did originally give Rattler an offer back in April of 2017.