Tennessee football: Why three Vols leaving mid-season not as bad anymore

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /

During their bye week, Tennessee football lost three players, two to the transfer portal. That’s not as bad of news for the Volunteers as it used to be.

If this were even two years ago, and it did happen during Butch Jones’s final two seasons, there would be reason for panic on Rocky Top. Tennessee football had three players leave the program this week, during their open date, as they are off to a 1-3 start.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jacquez Jones and junior inside linebacker Shanon Reid both entered the transfer portal. Junior inside linebacker Will Ignont, meanwhile, left the team for personal reason.

This would all be completely abnormal in previous years. We would all use it as a sign of Jeremy Pruitt completely losing control of the program, which would be piling on to an already disastrous start for Rocky Top.But when you look at the date of Tennessee football’s bye week and the situation of all three players, it makes much more sense than it used to.

First, the date of the bye week is important. The Vols have their bye after four games into the year. NCAA rules now allow players to take a redshirt if they don’t play anymore than four games in a season, and that alone would leave the door open to potential transfers.

On top of that, all three players who have left the program were Butch Jones recruits, and playing time was being called into question for them. So  yes, it makes sense that they would leave the program during the Vols’ bye week.

Jones is in his third year in the program. The 5’10” 171-pound Clearwater, Fla. native got his first touch of his career against the BYU Cougars. It was a nine-yard carry. But when you look at that, even with how deep UT is at receiver, it makes sense that he would leave the program.

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Meanwhile, Reid and Ignont were both in competition to start alongside Daniel Bituli this year at inside linebacker after injury forced Darrin Kirkland Jr. to retire. And with Bituli missing the first two games due to injury, they both got chances to shine.

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Ignont started the first two games and racked up 15 tackles in them. The job seemed like it was going to go to him early on. But Bituli returned, and the 6’1″ 225-pound Huntsville, Ala. native then only had one tackle against the Chattanooga Mocs before failing to even make the travel roster in the road trip to the Florida Gators.

Reid, on the other hand accrued four tackles against the Georgia State Panthers and seven tackles, largely in garbage time, against Chattanooga. But he didn’t play at all against the BYU Cougars, and after not playing against Florida, the 6’0″ 224-pound Fort Myers, Fla. native was even behind Ignont.

As a result, neither of those guys were about to see more action. The emergence of Henry To’oTo’o as a true freshman linebacker who already has a starting job along with improvement from converted running back Jeremy Banks, a sophomore, set up Tennessee football’s future there.

Add in true freshman Quavaris Crouch, a potential star, and Ignont and Reid had limited potential. After all, Crouch is a likely superstar there. Don’t forget that J.J. Peterson is also on the roster. And now redshirt sophomore Solon Page III, another guy who was in competition to start at that spot, could make a run.

But what’s clear is that Reid and Ignont were falling out of the pack, and as juniors, it made sense for them to leave after four games with a chance to take a redshirt. Ignont, to be fair, may not have left to transfer since he reportedly left for personal reasons.

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The overall point, however, is that this is not indicative of Pruitt losing control of the Tennessee football program. It once would have meant that. But Ignont, Reid and Jones appear to have very few prospects playing for the Vols in the future. There is enough evidence to point to that, which is why, with so many other reasons to panic on Rocky Top, this is not one of them.