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Tennessee Football player exodus; Basketball win vs. Illinois; Keenan Pili returns; NIL causing rifts

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Bowl practice is underway for Tennessee Football. Caleb Calhoun and Dave Hooker discuss the Vols’ player exodus from Friday on Off the Hook Sports’ Monday, Dec. 11 podcast along with news of a key returnee, what role NIL is playing in this, who Josh Heupel is targeting in the portal, the Heisman and UT Basketball getting a big win.

Does Keenan Pili return outweigh Tennessee Football exodus?

Friday was a crazy day for Tennessee Football personnel. The Vols lost two players to the transfer portal in Doneiko Slaughter and Tyler Baron, and they suffered a flip on the recruiting trail, as tight end Jonathan Echols decommitted and instead joined the South Florida Bulls. However, linebacker Keenan PIli got a seventh year of eligibility from the NCAA.

NIL role on Tennessee Football transfers

Two and a half weeks before hitting the portal, Baron liked a tweet that lamented Tennessee Football opening up the name, image and likeness checkbook for Nico Iamaleava while not giving more to returning seniors. Is that playing a role in some players leaving the program? What impact will it have in the future?

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Who is Tennessee Football targeting in the portal?

So far, the Vols have mostly lost players to the transfer portal, but who could they be targeting from other schools? Tight end seems like a very prominent position, which is notable given their recent decommitment. What is the most important position for them to shore up in the portal this offseason?

Vols losing almost entire secondary

In addition to Slaughter hitting the portal, Tennessee Football has also lost Brandon Turnage, Warren Burrell and Jack Luttrell to transfer. Meanwhile, they have lost Kamal Hadden and Jaylen McCollough to graduation. That makes only Wesley Walker and Tamarion McDonald as contributors to last year’s secondary who could be back, but is such attrition actually a good thing?

UT Basketball beats Illinois

On Saturday at home, Tennessee Basketball scored a huge top 20 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Vols did it behind another great scoring game from Dalton Knecht and Jonas Aidoo asserting his presence underneath the hoop. Is this the formula for Rick Barnes’ team to go far in the tournament?

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Jayden Daniels wins Heisman

Despite three losses, LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels won this year’s Heisman Trophy. Was that deserved? Is this an underwhelming Heisman season? What does next year’s race look like? Nico Iamaleava was left off ESPN’s early look at 2024 contenders. Is that a mistake given the hype behind him to this point?

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