With the first transfer window of the cycle closed, it’s time to look back on who the Vols brought in. Josh Heupel picked up eight transfers, filling immediate needs for Tennessee football.
Like we did for Tennessee’s 2023 class, Off The Hook Sports will give you five things about each Vols’ transfer.
Here are five things to know about former Oregon wide receiver Dont’e Thornton.
Where Thornton ranks
Thornton was one of the hottest names on the market when he announced he was transferring from Oregon on Dec. 5.
He ranked as a four-star transfer and the No. 10 wideout available. Coming out of high school, Thornton was a four-star as well.
In the class of 2021, Thornton was the No. 57 prospect nationally, the No. 7 wide receiver, and the No. 2 prospect from Maryland.
Tennessee football over who?
Thornton announced he was transferring to Tennessee football on Jan. 9. Before making his choice, he entertained several schools.
He took visits to Miami, Auburn, Arkansas, and Tennessee before ultimately deciding to become a Vol.
Miami seemed like the school to beat for Thornton before Tennessee came onto the scene. Former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal recruited Thornton to play for him in Eugene. His connection wasn’t enough to land the wide receiver.
Thornton brings versatility and division-one experience to Tennessee.
The 6-foot-5, 197-pounder played in 25 games at Oregon, starting in five. He finished 2022 with 17 receptions for 366 yards and one touchdown. He finished 2021 with nine receptions for 175 yards and two TDs.
Why Tennessee football?
After Jalin Hyatt’s record-breaking season in 2022, it is no surprise that every receiver is paying attention to what is happening in Knoxville.
Playing for Heupel and his offense is a receiver’s dream, and it is exactly why Thornton wanted to wear Orange and White.
“Being in an offense that is going to pass the ball a lot and be efficient passing the ball, and then, two, being in a receivers room with a receivers coach that is going to help all of those guys develop like Jalin Hyatt,” Thornton told GoVols247. “If you watch any of his interviews, he praises Coach Pope very highly, so knowing that not only his receivers feel like that, his other coaches feel like that, I feel like I’m in a great situation.”
Thornton gives Heupel a player he can use anywhere on the field. There are not very many limitations to where he can play.
He played both on the outside, and in the slot at Oregon thanks to his size and speed.
Although he didn’t have high production for Oregon, Thornton would fit right in under Heupel. Usually lining up in the slot, Thornton could be deadly in Heupel’s system.
Coming out of high school, 247Sports’ Brian Dohn compared Thornton to Kenny Golladay.
“Long, wiry frame but needs to add strength,” Dohn wrote in 2020. “Releases off the line well and gets into route quickly. Knows how to set up defensive backs. Locates ball well and is sure-handed. Possession receiver with big-play capability. Has deceptive speed. Runs 4.63 in 40. Attacks ball in air. Good body control and flexibility. Legitimate red-zone threat. Needs to tighten his route running out of breaks. Must get stronger in the upper body. High-level player for elite Power 5 program. Second- or third-round NFL draft potential.”