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    (Photo via Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics)

    The mailbag is brought to you by Mid Tenn Ford. They are Middle Tennessee’s oldest Ford Dealer, and they offer a full line of Ford Trucks, Vans, SUVS, and Crossovers. They have both a light and heavy duty Service Department to get you back on the road when needed. Call 1-888-409-0306 today for your no-obligation price quote from their sales department!

    Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.

    “How much do you think that Bryant’s injury affects him this week? Is he 100%, 80%?” – @WhoKnow72729456

    Nathanael: I think it will hold Kelly Bryant back like it has the last couple weeks. It held him out of the Georgia game, and he didn’t look 100 percent against Florida, either. Obviously, the Gators’ defense is better than Tennessee’s, but the Vols’ defense has been playing really well lately, especially in the second half. With Bryant not being able to scramble like he wants to, that should allow the Vols to be a little more reckless and not have to have a constant spy on Bryant. They’ll still need to be wary of his running ability, but I think that’ll still limit him. Bryant isn’t a great pocket passer, so that helps the Vols.

    Ben: I don’t know how much, but it will definitely affect him to a certain extent, simply because it has all season long. Bryant even missed the Georgia game two weeks ago. The former Clemson quarterback is at his best when he’s able to scramble and create chaos. Due to his hamstring injury, he hasn’t been able to do that this season. I don’t expect for Bryant to be 100 percent healthy all of a sudden.

    “With the season winding down, what is the 1 biggest surprise? Both positive and negative.” – Sam

    Nathanael: I think my biggest positive surprise from an individual standpoint has been the rapid improvement of Nigel Warrior throughout the season. He entered the year with a ton of questions, and he was failing to answer those questions through the first four weeks of the season. Ever since the Georgia game, though, he’s been a different player, and he looks like an NFL prospect now. As a whole, Tennessee’s complete 180-degree turnaround from a 1-4 start to going 4-1 over the last five games has been my biggest positive surprise.

    On the flip side, I’ve been really disappointed in Tennessee’s run game and the lack of usage of the running backs. I can understand not calling a ton of running plays because it’s obvious the offensive line has still struggled to run block, and the Vols’ backs have struggled at times to make the correct reads. But Tennessee’s running backs have combined for just 255 carries this season, and I’ve been especially surprised at the lack of usage out of Ty Chandler in the passing game. He has just nine catches this season, and they’ve gone for a meager 27 yards.

    Ben: The biggest positive surprise to me has been Tennessee’s turnaround. After starting the season 1-4, with losses to Georgia State and BYU, I am stunned that Tennessee is going to be playing for a bowl game. (Yes, I believe at minimum, the Vols finish the season with a win over Vanderbilt) I thought the 2019 Tennessee football team was dead going into the Georgia game and am somewhat stunned Jeremy Pruitt has been able to turn things around this year. Sure, the competition hasn’t been the greatest, but the Vols are playing pretty good football right now. I didn’t see that coming following the month of September.

    The biggest negative surprised to me this season was how Jarrett Guarantano started the season. I didn’t expect Guarantano to win the Heisman this season, but I sure as heck didn’t think he would start the year the way he did. He was flat out miserable, and that was shocking to me because he has so much more potential than what he was showing. The Guarantano that we’ve seen against Mississippi State, South Carolina, UAB, and Kentucky is the Guarantano I thought we would see to start the year. Kudos to the junior for getting it turned around and battling through adversity.

    When the Vols win, YOU win! Take 20% off your ENTIRE order in the RTI merch store by using the promo code “UT20” at checkout! Click on the image above to browse our entire inventory!

    “Seeing how Pruitt has transformed this team this year, what are the expectations over the next few years? Can we win the SEC East in the next 5 years?” – Dawson

    Nathanael: You should absolutely expect that. If Tennessee doesn’t win the SEC East at least once within the next five years, I don’t think Jeremy Pruitt is the head coach of the Vols after that period of time. I don’t think the Vols should win the East next year, but what about in 2021 or 2022? With the entire roster flipped at that point and with the development and strength coaching from this staff over that span, I think it’s very fair to expect Tennessee not only to be competing for the East, but to have at least won it once.

    Ben: Absolutely. If not, Pruitt won’t be here in five years simply because that’s plenty of time to give the Vols a chance to make it to Atlanta as the SEC East representative. I’ve said from the beginning, Pruitt deserves, at minimum, four years. Despite what the recruiting rankings said, he had very little talent when he took over. Not only did he have a lack of resources, but the Butch Jones culture was an absolute mess that wasn’t going to be cleaned up over night.

    “What’s your prediction re: the QB situation next year? Is JG still a Vol? Will Bailey be ok redshirting? Will Maurer and/ or Shrout redshirt or leave?” – @tjvol49

    Nathanael: Next year’s quarterback situation is pretty much unpredictable at the moment. That’s not me trying to cop out of a prediction; I simply don’t think even the most accomplished soothsayers can figure out what’s going to happen at QB for Tennessee between now and August of next year. Does Guarantano return? Does Harrison Bailey win the starting job as a true freshman? Do either Shrout or Maurer transfer? What about Kasim Hill? Can he steal the starting job?

    There’s a lot to sort out for next year. If Guarantano doesn’t transfer, I think he’s the starter. If he leaves UT? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Ben: I honestly don’t have a prediction at the moment. You could make a case for Brian Maurer, Harrison Bailey, Guarantano, or Kasim Hill being next year’s starting quarterback and you wouldn’t look crazy. The only thing I don’t see happening is J.T. Shrout being the starter in the season-opener. Although I thought he was gone a month ago, if I’m Tennessee, I try to get Guarantano to return. Sure, the start of the season was miserable, but he’s finally starting to settle into Jim Chaney’s offense, and its paying off. Plus, there’s no guarantee that Bailey, or even Hill, will be better options.

    “Has the GA State game officially moved to being our LA Monroe against Bama or Troy against LSU game?” – @BlazeKeylon

    Nathanael: I don’t think so at all. At least not right now. If Pruitt goes on a run and gets Tennessee to the SEC Championship Game in the next two years, then I’d say yes, it was. But right now? I don’t think so. Right now, it just looks like a disastrous game to start the season that Tennessee has been able to move on from and somehow salvage their season despite the loss. I’m not ready to say it’s “officially” the same level as Saban’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe in his first year at Alabama or Ed Orgeron’s loss to Troy at LSU in his first full year as head coach.

    Ben: That’s a question we’ll know the answer to in hindsight, five years from now, if Pruitt has Tennessee rolling. It feels like it for sure, though. One thing that I do know, however, is that the loss to Georgia State was an absolute fluke. The Panthers are a good football team this year, but if the two teams play each other 10 times, Tennessee would win every single one of them.

    “How serious are we when it comes to recruiting Reggie Grimes?? I feel like if we full court pressed him he might commit? Or am I just wishful thinking?” – Kristopher 

    Nathanael: Right now, it just doesn’t feel like there’s a great deal of mutual interest between the two. I think Tennessee is torn behind the scenes about whether or not they want to take him. I personally think he’s worth the scholarship spot in the 2020 class, but I’m not a coach or a talent evaluator.

    Ben: Maybe so, but I don’t think Tennessee is as interested in the borderline five-star defensive end target as one might expect.

    “Has your expectations for the men’s basketball team risen from the preseason or are they still the same? They’re playing great basketball right now.” – @htcook1999

    Nathanael: They’ve risen some in the fact that I don’t think the Vols will be a bubble team like I did at the beginning of the year. Now, I think Tennessee definitely gets in to the NCAA Tournament, though I don’t expect a super high seed. I do have some concerns about this team’s depth holding up as the season goes along and whether or not they can peak at the right time. Getting to the tournament is one thing, but can UT actually play their best basketball in late February and March unlike last year?

    Ben: They’re about the same, but what has changed is my confidence in Tennessee can survive life without Uros Plavsic. With the way Yves Pons, John Fulkerson, and Olivier Nkamhoua are playing, it appears that the Vols’ post players just may be able to swim through the murky waters. Tennessee is playing great basketball as you mentioned. It most definitely provides a level of comfort that the Vols can absolutely make the tournament.

    “With the rest of the SEC being a dumpster fire so far this year in men’s BB, what impact might that have for TN come NCAA tourney time?” – Greg

    Nathanael: Right now, the SEC looks ripe for the taking for Tennessee because of the early season struggles of Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Alabama and others. So far, only the Vols and Auburn have really looked good to start the season. But I fully expect some of these teams to get better come February, because by then most of these teams will have settled in and figured out how their puzzle pieces fit. All those teams I mentioned, along with Georgia, Vanderbilt, and a couple others, are dealing with a lot of newness on their roster. I think a large portion of them will figure some things out, but I do think Tennessee still finishes in the top five of the conference at this rate.

    Ben: If the SEC basketball struggles continue, it’ll impact Tennessee in a positive way in the sense that the Vols road to the NCAA Tournament will be much easier. But I don’t believe the SEC will be as bad as they’ve shown to this point. Each team that is struggling right now has quite a bit of newness to their program. There’s going to be an adjustment phase because of it.

    “How do you think Kerry Blackshear Jr would’ve fit in if he went to Tennessee instead? Seeing how bad the Gators basketball squad looks so far, should he have gone to Tennessee instead?” – Steve

    Nathanael: I think he absolutely should’ve gone to UT instead. His decision to go to Florida always struck me as odd. I know the Gators have talent on their roster, so I can understand it from that perspective. But how did he think Mike White’s offense would benefit him? The Gators’ offense has gotten worse and worse every year under White after his second season. They went from scoring 77.9 points a game and averaging 69 possessions a game in his second season to 75.8 points and 67.1 possessions in his third year and then to 67.8 points and 62.9 possessions last year. This year, they’re averaging 62.5 points and 65.1 possessions. Maybe he thought all that talent would change things, but it clearly hasn’t.

    At Tennessee, the offense would’ve run through him and the Vols’ senior duo in the backcourt. He’s personally having a decent year, averaging 14.5 points and 11 rebounds (before Thursday’s game against St. Joseph’s when he was ejected early), but the Florida team isn’t right now. That can obviously change, but it doesn’t look great.

    Ben: He would have fit in perfectly, which is why he told Tennessee players that he was going to come to Knoxville and play his final season of college basketball in Thompson-Boling. But he got caught up in the Gators hype, and so far, it appears to have been the wrong decision. Blackshear would probably be the focal point of the Vols offense right now. I believe he, Lamonte Turner, and Jordan Bowden would have played well together.

      (Photo via The Commercial Appeal)

      In this episode of the RTI Podcast, managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee start off the podcast with some basketball talk. Should Penny Hardaway face punishment for the James Wiseman situation? Should the Vols do what Memphis did and just play Uros Plavsic and deal with the consequences later on? Later in the podcast, they also discuss Rick Barnes and Tennessee not renewing the Memphis-Tennessee series after next year and whether or not that’s the right decision. On the football front, will the Vols’ match-up with Missouri be ugly, or could UT manage to make it a blowout? Who will start at quarterback for Tennessee?

      Make sure you don’t miss an episode of the RTI Podcast! Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts here! And make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for another way to experience the podcast!

        (Photo via Emmalee Reed/Missourian)

        2019 Record: 5-5 overall (2-4, SEC)

        Head Coach: Barry Odom, 4th year, 24-24 overall (12-18, SEC)
        Location: Columbia, Missouri

        Leading Passer: Kelly Bryant (Sr.) — 165-of-264, 2,049 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT
        Leading Rusher: Larry Roundtree (Jr.) — 146 carries, 698 yards, 8 TD, 4.8 YPC
        Leading Receiver: Jonathan Nance (Sr.) — 27 receptions, 410 yards, 3 TD
        Leading Tackler: Nick Bolton (So.) — 88 tackles (61 solo), 7.5 TFL

        Total Offense Rank: 82nd (388.2)
        Passing Offense Rank:
        71st (230.5)
        Rushing Offense Rank: 72nd (157.7)
        Scoring Offense Rank: 86th (26.0)

        Total Defense Rank: 10th (297.6)
        Passing Defense Rank: 6th (165.9)
        Rushing Defense Rank: 34th (131.7)
        Scoring Defense Rank: 19th (19.5)

        Here’s a complete preview of Tennessee’s opponent this Saturday, the Missouri Tigers.


        In the words of Missouri offensive coordinator and former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, Mizzou’s offense has been in “football hell” lately.

        Missouri hasn’t scored a touchdown in 30 possessions, it’s averaging 6.8 points per game over the last four games, the running backs combined for just 14 carries last Saturday against Florida, and a wide receiver hasn’t caught a touchdown in SEC play all season long.

        On third down, the Tigers have been terrible as well. Mizzou is converting on third down only 36.7 percent of the time, which ranks 11th in the SEC. In terms of picking up first downs, they rank 10th in the SEC, as the Tigers are picking up on average 20.9 first downs per game.

        Missouri’s offensive success starts and stops with Clemson transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant. The South Carolina native arrived with lofty goals of leading the Tigers to Atlanta, but the season hasn’t necessarily gone according to plan. Bryant has been hampered with a hamstring injury all season long, and it prevented him from playing in Missouri’s 27-0 loss to Georgia two weeks ago.

        For the season, Bryant is completing 62.5 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,049 yards, 14 touchdowns, and six interceptions. On the ground, he’s rushed for 224 yards and a touchdown on 96 carries.

        Bryant’s No. 1 target entering the season was junior tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. But the big, physical tight end has had a rough season, catching just 26 passes for 306 yards and six touchdowns.

        Missouri’s leading pass catcher has been running back Tyler Badie. The sophomore running back has hauled in 30 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns. As for Mizzou’s leading wide receiver, Memphis native Johnathan Johnson leads the room with 29 catches, but he only has 294 receiving yards and hasn’t caught a touchdown. Jonathan Nance is the team’s leader in receiving yards with 410, to go along with his three touchdowns.

        Though Badie may be Mizzou’s leading pass catcher as a running back, he backs up Larry Roundtree III in the backfield. Roundtree has rushed for 698 yards and eight touchdowns on 146 carries this season. He’s averaging 4.8 yards a carry and 69.8 yards per game.

        As for Badie, he’s rushed for 363 yards and two touchdowns on 87 carries. Badie is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 36.3 yards per game.

        Up front for Missouri, Yasir Durant starts at left tackle, Case Cook starts at left guard, Trystan Colon-Castillo starts at center, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms starts at right guard, and Larry Borom starts at right tackle. Missouri has given up 22 sacks this season, which is the eighth-most in the SEC.


        Though the offense is abysmal for Missouri, Barry Odom’s defense is legit. Even after losing starting linebacker Cale Garrett, the heart-and-soul of the defense, to injury earlier this season, the Tigers still rank within the top five in the SEC in all of the major defensive statistical categories.

        Missouri ranks first in passing yards allowed per game (165.9), second in total defense (297.6), fifth in points allowed (19.5), and fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (131.7).

        In the absence of Garrett, sophomore linebacker Nick Bolton leads Odom’s defense. Bolton leads the SEC in total tackles per game (8.8), as well as solo tackles per game (6.1). In SEC play, he’s averaging 10.2 tackles a contest. Bolton was named by Pro Football Focus as a Midseason Second-Team All-American.

        Cameron Wilkins flanks Bolton at the linebacker position. Wilkins has recorded 32 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and half a sack this season.

        Along with Bolton, defensive tackles Jordan Elliott and Kobi Whiteside combine to form the strength of the defense — the interior. Elliott was also a PFF Midseason All-American along with Bolton. He leads Missouri with nine tackles for a loss, and he has 24 tackles and five TFLs over the last five games.

        Whiteside, on the other hand, recorded his second two-sack performance of his career against Florida last week. He now leads Mizzou with six sacks on the season.

        Junior Chris Turner and sophomore Jatorian Hansford flank the dynamic tackles as Missouri’s starting defensive ends. Turner has made 23 consecutive starts and has two sacks and two tackles for a loss this season. Hansford has 2.5 tackles for a loss but no sacks.

        Statistically, Missouri’s secondary is the best in the SEC. Teams don’t throw in the direction of DeMarkus Acy, who was a 2018 All-SEC second-team honoree. Acy has yet to record an interception this season from his starting corner position, but he’s broken up five passes. Sophomore Jarvis Ware starts opposite of Acy. Ware has three pass breakups this season.

        At safety, juniors Joshuah Bledsoe and Tyree Gillispie serve as Odom’s starters. Bledsoe is third on the team in tackles with 42, while Gillispie is fourth with 40. Neither have recorded an interception this season, but they’ve combined for 12 pass breakups. Bledsoe’s seven breakups are a team-high.

        Senior Khalil Oliver serves as the team’s starting nickel corner. Oliver has tallied six pass breakups, 29 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and a sack this season.

        Special Teams

        Missouri’s special teams has not been good this season.

        The Tigers rank 12th in the SEC in kickoff returns (17.9), 8th in punt return average (10.9), 10th in kickoff coverage (39.5), 12th in field goals (13-of-20), seventh in punting (38.9), and 13th in extra points (three misses).

        Tucker McCann serves as Missouri’s kicker. McCann is 13-for-19 on his field goals this season with a long of 52 yards. He’s 3-for-3 between 20-and-29-yards, 4-for-6 between 30-and-39-yards, 5-for-7 between 40-and-49-yards, and 1-for-3 beyond 50 yards. McCann has also struggled with extra points this season, as he’s missed three.

        McCann also serves as Missouri’s punter. He’s punted 56 times for an average of 43.2 yards per punt. His long on the season went for 62 yards. McCann has had 18 punts go longer than 50 yards and has pinned 21 punts inside the 20-yard line.

        Badie leads the team in kickoff returns with six. He’s averaging 19.2 yards per return.

        Senior Richaud Floyd is Missouri’s punt returner. Floyd has already returned one punt for a touchdown this season, and he is averaging 13.6 yards per return.

          (Photo via AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

          When Jeremy Pruitt’s defense squares off against Kelly Bryant on Saturday night in Columbia, Missouri, it won’t be the first time Pruitt has faced the dynamic quarterback.

          Bryant was one of college football’s biggest transfers on the market last offseason. The South Carolina native ultimately chose to play for Missouri after deciding to transfer from Clemson after he lost his starting job to Trevor Lawrence.

          Prior to transferring after his junior season, Bryant led Clemson to the College Football Playoffs as a sophomore in 2017. His season came to an end at the hands of Alabama’s defense, which was led by Pruitt.

          In the playoff game against Pruitt and the Crimson Tide, Bryant struggled. He completed 18 of his 36 passes for just 124 yards and threw two interceptions. Bryant didn’t throw a touchdown, nor did he rush for a touchdown, as Alabama held him to 19 rushing yards on 19 carries.

          Pruitt believes his previous match-up with Missouri’s transfer quarterback is an absolute advantage, even if the two are with different teams now.

          “We’ve prepared against him before and probably have a good idea of their skill set,” Pruitt said on Monday during his weekly press conference. “The offenses are different, but there are some things that they (Missouri) do that are similar, so you probably would draw on some of the past to kind of help create a plan.

          “If you look at what (Kelly Bryant) is doing now at Missouri versus what he did at Clemson, they are a bit different offense, but you can see that Missouri has done a few things to cater to what he does best.”

          When the Vols win, YOU win! Take 20% off your ENTIRE order in the RTI merch store by using the promo code “UT20” at checkout! Click on the image above to browse our entire inventory!

          Bryant’s lone season at Missouri hasn’t gone according to plan. Many thought Mizzou could threaten Georgia and Florida in the SEC East, but the Tigers currently sit at 5-5 on the season and are fighting to reach a bowl game.

          As for Bryant, he’s been hamstrung by a hamstring injury, causing him to miss the Georgia game in Athens two weeks ago. When he has played, he hasn’t been the most efficient, whether that be because of his nagging injury or because of difficult circumstances surrounding him.

          “Well he’s running a little different offense,” Pruitt said of Bryant on the SEC Teleconference Wednesday. “They’ve done a nice job of adapting to his ability to run with the football.

          “Obviously, it’s two years later, so he’s more mature, probably has more confidence and can make all the throws. He’s a guy that stretches you all over the field with his arm talent and his leg talent. It will be a tremendous challenge for us.”

          This season, Bryant has thrown for 2,049 yards, 14 touchdowns, and is completing 62.5 percent of his passes, but he’s also thrown six interceptions. On the ground, Bryant has rushed for 224 yards and a touchdown on 96 carries.

          “He’s probably healthier now than he’s been in quite some time,” Pruitt said. “We’ll have a tremendous challenge for us playing on the road, playing against a good football team — something we’re looking forward to.”

          Missouri’s offense has struggled over the last few weeks both with and without Bryant at the helm. The Tigers have scored a grand total of one touchdown in their last three games combined, and the offense has managed just 13 total points over their last 12 quarters of play.

          Tennessee and Missouri will kick-off at 7:30 PM Eastern on Saturday in Columbia. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

            Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

            After Tennessee’s 76-41 victory over Alabama State on Wednesday night, the university announced that redshirt sophomore Zach Kent will be “stepping away” from the program indefinitely. While Kent is still enrolled in school and his decision wasn’t tied to any disciplinary reasons, Kent’s departure seems more likely to be permanent than not.

            So, where does this leave the Vols’ roster in men’s basketball?

            Kent’s on-court impact was minimal both this season and in his career. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound forward from Delaware signed with Tennessee in the 2017 class after playing his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. Kent played in two games as a freshman in the 2017-18 season, scoring four points and grabbing two rebounds against Presbyterian and snagging an offensive board against High Point. Kent redshirted that season. Last year, Kent underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee in October and sat out the entire season.

            To start this year, Kent had played in two games, playing four minutes against UNC Asheville and logging six minutes against Murray State, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds against the Racers.In total, Kent has played in four games as a Vol, scoring seven points and totaling five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

            Replacing Kent’s production on the court won’t be a problem, but there are greater implications tied to his departure.

            With Kent’s absence, Tennessee has just nine scholarship players currently eligible to play this season. The Vols have two scholarship seniors (Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner), three scholarship juniors (John Fulkerson, Yves Pons, Jalen Johnson) and four freshmen (Josiah-Jordan James, Olivier Nkamhoua, Davonte Gaines, Drew Pember).

            Right now, Arizona State transfer Uros Plavsic is still ineligible to play this season as he waits to hear back from the NCAA on a last-ditch appeal. Assuming his appeal is denied just like his original waiver and first appeal, then Tennessee will have to rely on just nine scholarship players for the foreseeable future. Oregon transfer Victory Bailey Jr. is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, so he’s not an option for this year.

            Granted, Kent’s decision to leave is “indefinite,” which means he could return to the team at some point. But it appears to be a safer bet that he won’t at this point.

            When the Vols win, YOU win! Take 20% off your ENTIRE order in the RTI merch store by using the promo code “UT20” at checkout! Click on the image above to browse our entire inventory!

            While Kent didn’t play a great deal, his departure does take another post player off the Vols’ roster. Tennessee’s frontcourt already lacked depth even with Kent on the roster, but now UT is left with two true post players (Fulkerson and Nkamhoua), a stretch-four (Pember), and an undersized four (Yves Pons).

            If Plavsic’s appeal is denied, Tennessee will only have three scholarship players who measure in over 6-foot-7, and two of those are true freshmen. One of them — Drew Pember — is still far too skinny to hold up in the paint once the Vols start SEC play. Pember is 6-foot-9, but he barely weighs 200 pounds. Nkamhoua (6-8, 224 pounds) and Fulkerson (6-9, 215 pounds) are built more like SEC post players.

            Tennessee was already using more small-ball lineups to start this season, but now that tactic will be used even more frequently since there won’t really be another option.

            Kent wasn’t earning very many minutes, so the Vols’ gameplan on the court won’t shift dramatically. But what about the more long-term impact of Kent’s decision?

            Should the redshirt sophomore decide to permanently leave Tennessee’s men’s basketball program, that frees up a scholarship for the Vols to use. Previously, Tennessee had filled up their allotment of scholarships when they signed three prospects in the 2020 class during the fall signing period last week.

            Now, however, Tennessee could have another scholarship to use in the 2020 cycle or another future recruiting cycle.

            One possible option to immediately take that open scholarship would be 2020 point guard Santiago Vescovi. The international prospect from Uruguay has been picking up more and more high-major interest lately, and he just took an official visit to see the Vols during Wednesday’s game. Though Vescovi is just now rated as a three-star in the 247Sports Composite rankings, Evan Daniels of 247Sports said earlier this month that Vescovi is “tracking as a four-star and top 100 level recruit” once he’s evaluated by the international analysts at 247Sports.

            At the NBA G-League International Challenge in Uruguay, Vescovi averaged 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, three assists, and 1.5 steals in four games. He made seven of his 13 three-pointers and went up against teams with former NBA players such as Greg Monroe, Paul Zipser, and Josh Huestis.

            There’s talk that Vescovi could do what Jarnell Stokes did back in 2011 and enroll at his school of choice in time for the spring semester. That would mean Vescovi would be able to join the Vols in time for SEC play if that’s the route he ends up taking.

            Tennessee’s roster is subject to change in any number of ways over the next couple months. Kent could end up coming back, Plavsic could get his appeal accepted or denied, or Vescovi could sign with the Vols and either enroll mid-year or end up waiting till next season.

            Whatever happens, the Vols appear to have several options, but most of them are out of their control.

              Photo by Caitlyn Jordan/RTI

              Tennessee took care of business on Wednesday night, easily dispatching a lowly Alabama State squad in Thompson-Boling Arena.

              The No. 20 Vols improved to 4-0 on the year with a 76-41 victory over the Hornets on Wednesday night. During the game, both Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark, and four different Vols scored in double figures.

              After the game, Tennessee announced that redshirt sophomore forward Zach Kent will be “stepping away” from the program indefinitely, though Kent will still be enrolled in classes. Head coach Rick Barnes discussed Kent leaving the team, his two senior guards, the Vols’ victory, and much more after the game.

              Here’s everything Barnes had to say after Tennessee’s win:

              A couple Vol players met with the media after the game as well. Freshmen Josiah-Jordan James and Drew Pember discussed their play and Tennessee’s win over Alabama State: