On Wednesday, the transfer portal closed. Tennessee football lost 14 players to the portal while picking up eight. They can still add transfers, but nobody else can enter. Of those 14, eight have signed with new teams. Here is a ranking of all 14 based on how much the Vols will miss them next year.
14. Lucien Brunetti – WR
A walk-on wide receiver who was a three-star on 247Sports Composite in 2021, Lucien Brunetti was a redshirt freshman this past year. He registered no receiving stats. Given his lack of scholarship and the Vols’ depth there, they’ll be fine without him.
13. Romello Edwards – DB
After five years with Tennessee football, Romello Edwards is gone. He was a walk-on defensive back who has registered five total tackles in his career, four of which were solo. Adding BYU Cougars transfer Gabe Jeudy-Lally even further renders this loss irrelevant.
12. Savion Herring – OL
In September, Savion Herring was arrested, and he never saw action for the Vols. The former JuCo prospect was a late commitment to their 2022 class. Given the fact that he never played, it’s hard to say he will be missed.
11. Justin Williams-Thomas – RB
Despite being a high-profile commitment in the Vols’ 2022 recruiting class, Justin Williams-Thomas wasn’t able to see the field much this year. Dylan Sampson emerging hurt him, and UT has two more commitments at running back this year. Oh, and Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small are still there. Williams-Thomas transferred to the Cal Golden Bears.
10. William Parker – OL
One of the high-profile commitments to Tennessee football in 2021, William Parker seemed like a building block for Josh Heupel. However, he only played two games this past year while taking a redshirt the year before. Adding transfers Andrej Karic and Charles Campbell Jr. wasn’t going to help him get into the rotation. As a result, he’s not a huge loss in the transfer portal, although his potential may never be known.
9. Jimmy Calloway – WR
As a redshirt freshman against the Pittsburgh Panthers in 2021, Jimmy Calloway had an incredible 44-yard touchdown reception in which he did most of the work after catching a short pass. He seemed to have a promising future for Tennessee football, but he never emerged beyond that, catching just two passes for 20 yards this year. Squirrel White’s play left no room for him in the slot. Calloway is now with the Louisville Cardinals.
8. R.J. Perry – OL
Initially a defensive line commitment in the Vols’ 2020 recruiting class, R.J. Perry, who transferred to the South Florida Bulls, switched over to offensive line and took a redshirt that year. He then played seven games in 2021. This past year, he played in all 13 games. Most of his work was on special teams, and it seemed like he wasn’t going to get into the rotation, but that special teams work can be valuable, so UT will miss him to a degree.
7. Walker Merrill – WR
Another slot receiver who likely left due to the emergence of Squirrel White, Walker Merrill actually had eight catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns this past year. He transferred to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and is a guy the Vols could end up missing with Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman gone, as he probably would’ve been fifth on the depth chart behind White, Bru McCoy, Ramel Keyton and Oregon Ducks transfer Dont’e Thornton.
6. Tayven Jackson – QB
Sure, Joe Milton III and Nico Iamaleava are the guys to compete at quarterback. However, Tayven Jackson, who transferred to the Indiana Hoosiers, could have been a valuable third-stringer. Given how quarterbacks in Josh Heupel’s system use their legs, they could be prone to injury. As a result, without Jackson, Heupel is down to Gaston Moore and Navy Shuler. UT has had two quarterbacks get hurt for the season in years past, so this is a concern.
5. Jimmy Holiday – WR
With six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, Jimmy Holiday was the second most productive receiver. However, he also returned 14 kickoffs, so Tennessee football is losing a member of its return game and one of the main factors there. That makes him somebody they will miss more than the other receivers. Holiday transferred to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
4. Jordan Phillips – DL
Yes, Jordan Phillips only had one tackle this past year, and yes, the Vols picked up Arizona State Sun Devils transfer Omarr Norman-Lott on the line. However, Phillips, who transferred to the Maryland Terrapins, was just a freshman, and UT needs more depth on its defensive line, so this is still a loss that could turn out to be concerning for them.
3. Miles Campbell – TE
Although the Vols added McCallan Castles and Miles Campbell didn’t play last year, Campbell was the tight end to fill the versatile role Princeton Fant has. Now, Castles is the only player to fill that void, and he came from an FCS program, so Campbell, who transferred to the UNC Central Eagles, could end up being a big loss for Rocky Top. It more leaves open too many questions, which is why this is a bigger loss.
2. Len’Neth Whitehead – RB
He didn’t play all year due to a season-ending injury, but that forced the Vols to line up Princeton Fant as their power back. Len’Neth Whitehead was supposed to return to fill that role. Instead, he hit the portal. The Vols will need to hope either Castles fills that void or three-star commitment Khalifa Keith, another power back, pans out.
1. Juwan Mitchell – LB
By far the most productive player for Tennessee football among everybody entering the portal, Juwan Mitchell had an interception, two pass deflections and 43 tackles, 21 of which were solo, in the linebacker rotation this year. Adding BYU transfer Keenan Pili would seem to offset this, but the Vols are also losing Jeremy Banks, so Mitchell will be very difficult to replace.