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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Tennessee
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  College football fans who believe NIL deals and the transfer portal will be the ruination of their sport should love Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton. Never mind that he's a transfer himself. Milton has become the poster player for a more traditional era of college football. He won't be remembered as the quarterback who left Michigan after losing his starting job. He will be remembered as the quarterback who stayed at Tennessee after losing his starting job. This isn't just a Tennessee story. It's a national one.

College quarterbacks who lose their starting jobs are supposed to race toward the portal as if their career were about to go up in flames. But Milton stood his ground after losing his starting job to Hendon Hooker two games into the 2021 season. Instead of fleeing the scene, he became a close friend to the man who beat him out, and a team leader on a top-10 team. Then, when his friend went down to injury in the second-to-last game of the 2022 season, Milton quarterbacked the Vols to a 56-0 victory over Vanderbilt, and a 31-14 victory over top-10 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Milton is known for a strong arm. But his strength of character has become just as apparent. - Knoxville News Sentinel


rSr/2024 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  Tennessee gave coach Josh Heupel a big raise that puts him among the highest-paid coaches in college football after he led the Volunteers to their best season in more than 20 years. Heupel will make $9 million per year through the 2028 football season under the contract extension announced by the school Tuesday and signed Jan. 19. That's an increase from the $5 million extension signed last July that pushed his deal through 2027. Athletic director Danny White said Heupel's results speak for themselves with an 18-8 record, including 11-2 last season, capped by a win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

White said Heupel and his staff have energized the program and fans with his aggressive style of football. "We just needed an innovative leader like Josh Heupel to reignite the spark," White said of program that dealt with what he called a brief period of dormancy. "It’s been fun to crash the party, but as Josh said after our Orange Bowl triumph, the best is yet to come." The Vols have beaten seven Top 25 teams since Heupel was hired in January 2021, which ranks third nationally among FBS head coaches in that span. Tennessee went 3-7 in 2020 before Heupel was hired to replace Jeremy Pruitt. Tennessee finished Heupel's second season ranked sixth by The Associated Press college football poll, the Vols' highest finish since 2001. The pay increase features a $225,000 base salary with $8.725 million in supplemental pay. - AP College Football


rSr/2024 WR Bru McCoyTennessee
News Source: AP College Football
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  Tennessee football quarterback Joe Milton is among the early betting favorites for the 2023 Heisman Trophy. Milton is among a group tied for the sixth-best odds at +2000 to win the trophy for the most outstanding player in college football. USC's Caleb Williams, the 2022 winner, is the betting favorite at +380 and leads a horde of Pac-12 quarterbacks near the top. Milton sits at +2000 alongside LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Notre Dame transfer QB Sam Hartman, Texas QB Quinn Ewers, Ohio State QB Kyle McCord and Clemson QB Cade Klubnik.

Milton won his two starts, at Vanderbilt and against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, in 2022 after replacing the injured Hendon Hooker. Milton earned Orange Bowl MVP honors after passing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Tigers on Dec. 30. Milton, though, isn't the locked-in starter in 2023 just yet. 5-star freshman Nico Iamaleava enrolled early and will be competing for time in spring practice. - Knoxville News Sentinel


rSr/2024 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  The winter window for the NCAA transfer portal may have closed Wednesday, but that doesn't stop players from making commitments. Cornerback Gabe Jeudy-Lally, who spent three years at Vanderbilt before playing this past season at Brigham Young University, committed Thursday to Tennessee. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder entered the transfer portal on Dec. 28, having collected four tackles 11 days earlier in BYU's 24-23 topping of SMU in the New Mexico Bowl to cap an 8-5 season.

Jeudy-Lally will arrive in Knoxville with 23 career starts, including 10 this past season for the Cougars and 10 with Vanderbilt in 2021. He played in four games as a freshman in 2019, allowing him to redshirt that year, so Jeudy-Lally will have two seasons of eligibility with the Volunteers should he decide to use the pandemic-related extra year the NCAA implemented in 2020. - Chattanooga Times Free Press


rJr/2025 CB Gabe Jeudy-LallyTennessee
News Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press
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  Tennessee's revolving door at receiver finally contains someone walking into the program. Dont'e Thornton, a former top-100 national prospect who spent the past two seasons at Oregon, announced Monday afternoon via social media that he would be continuing his college career with the Volunteers.

Thornton amassed 17 catches for 366 yards and a touchdown this past season for the Ducks, averaging a robust 21.5 yards per reception. He was the nation's No. 57 recruit in the 2021 signing cycle, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings and had nine catches for 175 yards and two scores as a freshman. He entered the portal in late November and will have two seasons of eligibility with the Vols. - Chattanooga Times Free Press


Jr/2025 WR Donte ThorntonTennessee
News Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press
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  A second former Oregon player is continuing his career in the SEC. Former Ducks receiver Dont'e Thornton, who entered the transfer portal last month, announced his commitment to Tennessee on Monday. The 6-foot-5, 199-pound Thornton, who had 17 receptions for 366 yards and a touchdown and two carries for six yards this season, has two years of eligibility remaining. As a true freshman he had nine catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns. A four-star prospect out of Baltimore, Thornton was ranked No. 57 overall and No. 7 among receivers in the 2021 recruiting class. - The Oregonian

Jr/2025 WR Donte ThorntonTennessee
News Source: The Oregonian
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  Tennessee tight end Jacob Warren will return for a sixth year, he announced Wednesday. It's a big boost for the Vols, who lost half of their tight end tandem. Princeton Fant used all of his eligibility, but Warren still had one year remaining. Warren, a former Farragut standout, had 12 catches for 163 yards this season for No. 6 Tennessee, which finished with an 11-2 record and an Orange Bowl win over Clemson.

The 2023 season will be Warren's sixth and final year with the Vols. He has played 41 games in his career, which included a 2018 redshirt and a 2020 COVID-exempt year. Tennessee had a gaping hole at tight end for the 2023 season. Warren will help fill part of it. The Vols also added UC-Davis tight end McCallan Castles from the transfer portal. Castles, a 6-foot-5, 233-pounder, was an FCS All-American and All-Big Sky first-team selection. - Knoxville News Sentinel


rSr/2023 TE Jacob WarrenTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  Joe Milton completed 19 of 28 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 6 Tennessee finished off its best season in more than two decades by topping No. 10 Clemson 31-14 in the Orange Bowl on Friday night. Squirrel White, Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton had the scoring catches for the Volunteers (11-2), who matched their best record since 2001. Jaylen Wright rushed for 89 yards and Jabari Small had a touchdown run for Tennessee. Cade Klubnik, making his first start for Clemson, completed 30 of 54 passes for 320 yards with two interceptions. But Clemson (11-3) just kept coming up empty on chances; the Tigers got into Tennessee territory on nine of their first 10 possessions - and turned those trips into only two field goals. Klubnik ran in from 4 yards out to get Clemson within 21-14 with 10:01 left, but Milton connected with Keyton for a 46-yard score on the next Tennessee possession. The Volunteers intercepted Klubnik on a desperation fourth-down heave about a minute later and the celebration wasn't on yet - but looming.

Workers began setting up the postgame stage, including the customary oranges that the winning team gets to toss during the trophy ceremony. And in this very orange Orange Bowl - both teams have it as their primary color - it was the Tennessee hue that was superior. Milton, the Orange Bowl MVP, opened the scoring with a 16-yard pass to McCoy late in the first, and Small's 2-yard rush pushed the lead to 14-0 with 9:03 left in the half. The nation's most prolific offense wasn't at its best Friday night - Tennessee led the nation this year in yards and points per game - but it didn't have to be, either. Clemson got the ball seven times in the first half, getting inside Tennessee territory all seven times and getting to the Vols 25 or better on four occasions. And somehow, that only added up to three points. - Tennessee/AP College Football


rSr/2024 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Tennessee/AP College Football
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  Tennessee football landed Texas transfer Andrej Karic to help fill an immediate need at right tackle. Karic, a 6-foot-5, 306-pounder, played 26 games with two starts over three seasons for the Longhorns. This season his playing time dropped, and he entered the transfer portal. Due to a COVID-exempt year and redshirt year, he still has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Karic will join junior college transfer Larry Johnson in building depth at right tackle with starter Darnell Wright heading to the NFL Draft. Starting left tackle Gerald Mincey, Dayne Davis and Jeremiah Crawford are the other tackles returning next season. Karic, from Carroll, Texas, was rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports Composite in the 2020 signing class. - Knoxville News Sentinel


rJr/2025 OT Andrej KaricTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  Tennessee football offensive lineman Darnell Wright has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft but plans to play in the Orange Bowl. Wright, who has one season of eligibility remaining, has been a staple of the Tennessee offensive line the last two seasons, starting 25 games. Wright won SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week awards twice this season and was named to the All-SEC First Team. Wright called the 2022 season an unforgettable ride in his statement on Twitter. "It's been an honor to be a Tennessee Volunteer for four years, and I have no regrets," Wright wrote. "This place and my teammates have given me so much. Therefore, I can't wait to take the field again one more time in the Orange and White in the Orange Bowl on December 30." No. 6 Tennessee (10-2) will play No. 7 Clemson (11-2) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The bowl will be Wright's 42nd start for the Vols. - Knoxville News Sentinel

Sr/2023 OT Darnell WrightTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  Jalin Hyatt isn't done making history yet. The Tennessee football wide receiver became the 13th player in program history to achieve unanimous All-America status. Hyatt was already voted to the first team of all five of the NCAA recognized All-America football teams before being named to the American Football Coaches Association first team Wednesday. Hyatt's unanimous selection is the first for Tennessee since defensive back Eric Berry earned the distinction in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009. Hyatt is the first Tennessee wide receiver to accomplish the feat. The unanimous selection was another accolade of Hyatt's historic junior season.

Hyatt became the first Biletnikoff Award recipient in Vols history this year. The South Carolina native led the FBS with 15 touchdown catches and ranked fourth in receiving yards with 1,267 on 67 receptions. His seven touchdown catches against AP Top 25 teams led the nation. The 15 touchdowns set Tennessee's single-season record for touchdown catches, a stat that also ranks sixth in SEC history. Hyatt became the third receiver in Tennessee history to have a 1,100-yard season with a second-quarter catch against Missouri. Robert Meachem set the program record for single-season receiving yards with 1,298 yards in 2006. Hyatt will leave Tennessee without breaking that record. He announced Wednesday that he is entering his name in the 2023 NFL Draft and is opting out of the Orange Bowl. - Knoxville News Sentinel


Jr/2023 WR *Jalin HyattTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  It's official: Jalin Hyatt is declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft. Hyatt will not be playing in the Orange Bowl after his decision Wednesday. He made the announcement on Instagram. "Thank you to Vol Nation. Your loyalty and passion - even during our hardships - never wavered. There is nothing like a Saturday in Neyland and that's because of you. I am grateful for the interactions we have had," he said. "Thank you and Go Vols." Hyatt posted a record-breaking season for Tennessee in 2022. He led the SEC in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

In the postseason, Hyatt was the first-ever Tennessee player to win the Biletnikoff Award. He also earned eight First Team All-America acclamations in the past week from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, ESPN, and others. Hyatt recently signed the first major hotel brand NIL deal. As a part of the deal, World of Hyatt will provide gift cards to help each of Hyatt's teammates' families with hotel rooms for the Orange Bowl. For the season, Hyatt garnered 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. He set a single-game record for touchdown receptions with five against then-No. 3 Alabama and the 15 total receiving scores are a single-season program record, UT Athletics said. - WBIR TV10 News, Knoxville


Jr/2023 WR *Jalin HyattTennessee
News Source: WBIR TV10 News, Knoxville
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  Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman announced Monday that he is not playing in the Orange Bowl and is declaring for the NFL Draft. Tillman, a redshirt senior, played in only six games this season due to injuries after recording 1,081 yards receiving and 12 TDs in 2021, which earned him 2021 All-SEC second-team honors. He had 417 receiving yards and three touchdowns this season.

The Las Vegas native was invited to both the 2023 Reese's Senior Bowl and the East-West Shine Game. No. 6 Tennessee (10-2) will play No. 7 Clemson (11-2) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Vols already will be without quarterback Hendon Hooker, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Hooker suffered a torn ACL against South Carolina late in the season. - Knoxville News Sentinel


rSr/2023 WR Cedric TillmanTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  2022 WALTER CAMP FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee,...The junior wideout had a breakout season for the Volunteers, achieving the SEC receiving triple crown—leading the league in receptions (67), receiving yards (1,267) and receiving touchdowns (15). His 15 scores also lead the FBS, while his 1,267 yards rank fourth nationally and are 31 shy of tying the program record set by Marcus Nash in 1997. Hyatt was recently named a first-team All-SEC selection by the league's coaches and the Associated Press, as well.

Hyatt is the first Tennessee player to earn first-team All-America honors at any position since defensive end Derek Barnett in 2016, who earned recognition from Walter Camp and the Associated Press that year. The Irmo, South Carolina, native is UT's sixth first-team All-America wide receiver, joining the likes of Robert Meachem (2006), Carl Pickens (1991), Tim McGee (1985), Willie Gault (1982) and Larry Seivers (1975, 76). - Tennessee Football


Jr/2023 WR *Jalin HyattTennessee
News Source: Tennessee Football
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  2022 BILETNIKOFF AWARD WINNER: Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee,...Tennessee has its first Biletnikoff Award winner. The nation's most explosive playmaker Jalin Hyatt captured the award, which goes to college football's most outstanding receiver regardless of position, on Thursday night as part of the virtual ESPN College Football Awards. Hyatt beat out two other finalists in Iowa State's Xavier Hutchinson and Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. He was chosen in a vote by the Biletnikoff Award national selection committee made up of writers, broadcasters, eminent receivers and past award winners. The Biletnikoff Award, named in honor of Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff, has been presented annually by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc., (TQCF) since 1994. Hyatt is the sixth winner of the award from the SEC, and four out of the last five years have seen an SEC player take home the trophy. Tennessee joins Alabama and LSU as the only three SEC programs to produce a Biletnikoff Award winner.

Hyatt, a junior from Irmo, South Carolina, produced arguably the greatest regular season by a wide receiver in Tennessee history. He shattered the school record for receiving touchdowns with 15, a mark that also tied for the FBS lead and was tops among all Power Five players. The first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and league coaches ranked fourth nationally in receiving yards with 1,267, which is 31 yards shy of tying the program record set by Marcus Nash in 1997. Hyatt took home the SEC receiving triple crown - leading the league in receptions (67), receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. His explosive prowess was on display all season as he led the nation in 30+ yard catches (15), 40+ yard catches (11), 50+ yard catches (7) and 60+ yard catches (5). - Tennessee Football


Jr/2023 WR *Jalin HyattTennessee
News Source: Tennessee Football
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