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What Are Tennessee’s Greatest Positions Of Need In The Transfer Portal?

Tennessee Neyland Sellout
Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

The regular season is over and the transfer portal season is here. The portal opened Monday and there’s been no shortage of players entering the portal across the country.

Josh Heupel and his staff began the evaluation process of positions they want to target early in the season and now they begin the evaluation process of players in the portal to try and figure out who they should target.

There are likely certain players Tennessee would take at any position because of their overall talent but there are certain positions the Vols need help at more than others.

Let’s take a look at Tennessee’s biggest positions of need in the transfer portal.

Tight End

Far from the most important position on the field, Tennessee needs help at tight end and could desperately need help if Jacob Warren decides not to use his final year of eligibility.

Warren and Fant — who’s out of eligibility — are the only tight ends to play major snaps in Josh Heupel’s two seasons as head coach.

Walk on UCF transfer Charlie Browder and walk on Hunter Salmon have seen playing time in tight end heavy formations but never as the lone tight end. Sophomore Miles Campbell looks the part but hadn’t earned any playing time and hasn’t often traveled with the team.

Tennessee does bring in highly touted tight end recruit Ethan Davis but he will just be a freshman and missed his final high school season after breaking his collarbone.

The Vols need to add at least one tight end in the portal and I wouldn’t be shocked if they add multiple.

Safety

Frankly, Tennessee needs help at every position in the defensive back field but none more than safety.

While the Vols are far from stacked at corner they have an abundance of bodies including Warren Burrell, Christian Charles, Doneiko Slaughter, Kamal Hadden and Brandon Turnage. Some of those players could end up at safety. Charles and Slaughter most notable have a safety’s skillset.

Tennessee also has a pair of strong corners committed including Rickey Gibson and Jordan Matthews who could help as freshman.

However, at safety there are few bodies and even less talent remaining. The Vols safety play was terrible for much of this season. Trevon Flowers was the best of the bunch but is out of eligibility. Jaylen McCollough could return for one final season but it is unclear if he will.

Behind the duo are unproven players including Andre Turrentine and freshman Jourdan Thomas.

The Vols need help in the secondary but no where more than at safety.

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Quarterback

There’s no more complicated spot for Tennessee in the transfer portal than at quarterback.

The reality of the situation is it’s going to be difficult for Tennessee to sustain its success from the 2022 season without adding a quarterback from the transfer portal.

Joe Milton III has been a great teammate but in three starts at Tennessee he has not played at a high level. A competent level, certainly, but not a high one. Incoming freshman Nico Iamaleava is as talented as they come but stepping right into the college game and having immediate success is extremely challenging.

Of course, those factors don’t make Tennessee particularly attractive to transfers. There’s no guaranteeing the starting job and NIL will likely be a factor for any major transfer QB. The Vols have invested otherwise.

If Tennessee looks for a quarterback in the portal it’ll likely be one with only one season of eligibility. Time will tell how strong the options that match that criteria will be. It’s a delicate and challenging task for Heupel and his staff, but if the Vols want to sustain their 2022 success into 2023 adding a quarterback would be a major plus.

Linebacker

Tennessee loses top linebacker Jeremy Banks and other contributor Solon Page III but Juwan Mitchell and Aaron Beasley both have eligibility remaining.

Like the secondary, Tennessee’s linebacker play was not very good this season. With the offense likely to take a step back with Hendon Hooker gone, the defense needs to improve. The Vols need to add some serious talent and depth at linebacker to do that.

Freshman linebacker Elijah Herring flashed in a limited role this season and should provide depth at the very least. However, it’s uncertain how much quality play he will bring as a safety.

Like tight end, it feels like a certainty Tennessee will add at least one if not two linebackers in the portal.

Offensive Tackle

This is solely dependent on Darnell Wright forgoing his final season of eligibility to go to the NFL. Wright is likely a day two draft pick and would be a blow to a strong offensive line.

There’s still options on Tennessee’s roster. Offensive tackles Gerald Mincey and Jeremiah Crawford are both set to return and have proven themselves capable.

Still, Tennessee could look to add a body through the portal.

Receiver

Tennessee doesn’t need to add a receiver in the portal. Even with Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt likely gone, Bru McCoy, Squirrel White and Ramel Keyton are all likely to return.

Those three are plenty talented enough to be Tennessee’s starters and play at a high level. However, Tennessee will be an incredibly attractive destination to transfer receivers.

Heupel’s offense is a receiver’s dream and he’s taken the unproven receivers he inherited in Knoxville and turned them into All-SEC contributors. There will be plenty of receivers in the portal and if the Vols want any they will be an extremely attractive destination.

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  1. ^Transport portal for the incoming participants to the Vol 23 team could get “‘vety Intiwesting”!

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