The Tennessee Volunteers had the second-most NFL Draft picks through the first three rounds this year. The Alabama Crimson Tide led the way with eight, Tennessee followed with five, and a handful of schools including Michigan and Georgia all fell into a group with four selections.
Tennessee ended the second day of the draft with five selections:
- OT Darnell Wright – No. 10 Chicago Bears
- QB Hendon Hooker – No. 68 Detroit Lions
- WR Jalin Hyatt – No. 73 New York Giants
- WR Cedric Tillman – No. 74 Cleveland Browns
- OLB Byron Young – No. 77 Los Angeles Rams
While that number is impressive, the Vols also watched as a few former Tennessee players landed a home in the NFL over the course of the weekend.
Former Tennessee turned Oklahoma offensive lineman Wanya Morris was the first Vol transfer off the board over the weekend. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Morris with the No. 92 overall pick in the third round.
While it doesn’t seem like Tennessee claims Morris all too much since his transfer during the Jeremy Pruitt era, the Chiefs’ Twitter account tweeted a picture of Morris (No. 64) and Trey Smith (No. 73) on the Tennessee offensive line during either the 2019 or the 2020 season. Smith’s final two seasons in Knoxville lined up with Morris’s first two seasons with Tennessee. Morris entered the transfer portal in January 2021, just five days before Tennessee announced the firing of Pruitt as the head coach.
The Tennessee boys are back together 🧡 pic.twitter.com/mGj4OQ88NC
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) April 29, 2023
More from RTI: How Close is Hendon Hooker to Starting in Detroit?
The next former Tennessee player to be drafted over the weekend was Alabama linebacker Henry To’o To’o.
With the 167th pick in the fifth round, the Houston Texans selected To’o To’o as their fifth selection in the draft. Similar to Morris, To’o To’o was at Tennessee for two seasons in 2019 and 2020 before moving to Alabama for the final two seasons of his career. To’o To’o would wind up entering the transfer portal two days after Pruitt was fired from Tennessee.
The one and only return to Neyland Stadium that Henry To’o To’o made after leaving Knoxville came this past season during the unforgettable Tennessee-Alabama game. Alabama used To’o To’o as, essentially, their spokesperson throughout the week in hype videos and social media posts. Fortunately for Tennessee, though, the Vols used that as fuel.
“It was definitely motivation,” former Tennessee tight end Princeton Fant about the video clip from To’o To’o after the game. “It’s nothing personal at all. It’s just business. When you step on the field it’s business. Just not a lot of talking. We came there to handle business, we came there to come and win.”
The Tide rolling deep into H-Town 🤘 pic.twitter.com/DoyAskVCgN
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) April 29, 2023
Wanya Morris and Henry To’o To’o both bailed from the Tennessee program as part of a mass exodus in January of 2021 with the investigation surrounding the football program and head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Another one of the players that left Knoxville was running back Eric Gray.
Eric Gray, who finished his career at the University of Oklahoma with Wanya Morris, also entered the NFL through the draft on Saturday afternoon.
With the 172nd overall pick in the fifth round, former Tennessee and Oklahoma running back Eric Gray has been drafted by the New York Giants.
Gray will team up with Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who was the Giants’ second pick of the draft at No. 73 overall. Gray’s selection comes almost exactly 100 picks after Hyatt.
Gray and Hyatt crossed paths during the 2020 season in Knoxville as Hyatt’s freshman season and Gray’s sophomore.
Let's get to work, Eric Gray 💪
— New York Giants (@Giants) April 29, 2023
Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider on Saturday afternoon for more continued coverage from the final day of the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City. RTI will bring you the latest on any current or former Tennessee players that jump off the board in the final few rounds.