Right up to the start of the season, Tennessee football could not be spared another player entering the transfer portal. This time, the Vols lost a local product, which would seem to make things worse on paper.
Redshirt freshman Tee Hodge reportedly is now in the transfer portal, according to multiple reports. Hodge, who came out of Maryville High School in Blount County, Tenn., as a member of the 2020 recruiting class, had one carry last year.
Despite him being a local product, Tennessee football can withstand this departure. The Vols are shockingly deep at the power running back position, and it’s likely that Hodge was just the odd man out in Josh Heupel’s new system.
Remember, Dee Beckwith and Len’Neth Whitehead are still there. While Hodge stands at 6’1″ 218 pounds, Beckwith stands at 6’5″ 227 pounds, and Whitehead stands at 6’2″ 220 pounds. Last year, Beckwith got the most carries of the three, registering three attempts for 25 yards.
While Beckwith got more carries than Hodge, Whitehead was generating more offseason buzz. He spent last year recovering from a high school injury, and that kept him out of contact drills in the spring as well. This fall has been the first time he’s been able to fully show what he can do.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Whitehead putting his skills on display lines up with the same time period Hodge decided to enter the portal. There just wasn’t room for all of these power backs, and somebody had to go.
When Hodge committed, it wasn’t even confirmed that Beckwith and Whitehead would play running back. Beckwith seemed more like a receiver or a tight end, and Whitehead seemed more likely to play linebacker.
Both being at running back, along with Tiyon Evans, gives Josh Heupel plenty of options for his workhorse back. If you look at Heupel’s history, his system thrives with complementary backs, including one speedster and one power back.
Before Hodge entered the portal, Tennessee football was loaded on the power side. His decision is just more of a testament to that. As a result, everybody should wish Hodge well wherever he goes, but this is not a transfer to be concerned about.