While no one knows what will unfold this season for Tennessee’s football team, one thing is certain. The 2018 Vols will look massively different than last year’s version.
There’s always turnover with any team from year to year, but yet another coaching change will drastically adjust Tennessee’s roster in just one offseason. With all the chaos in Knoxville, some former Vols decided they’d rather take their chances elsewhere, which forced UT’s new coaching staff to bring in several graduate transfers to fill the gaps. Here are the departed Vols that first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt will miss the most:
7. Kahlil McKenzie
This loss is predicated on one of two things, either that McKenzie would finally live up to his billing at defensive tackle or that he would be willing to move to the offensive line, as he’s done since forgoing his remaining eligibility and entering the NFL Draft. At the very least, McKenzie would have been a big body on the defensive line that would seemingly fit Pruitt’s scheme. Instead, he’ll be learning how to play offensive guard for the Kansas City Chiefs.
6. Trevor Daniel
It might seem odd to have a former walk-on punter on this list, but the Vols figure to punt a lot this fall. Daniel could have helped if he punted like he did last year as a senior. He averaged 45.9-yards per punt, which was third nationally.
5. John Kelly
Kelly was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft after leaving early for the pros. At 5-9, he’s not the kind of power tailback Pruitt would prefer, but he proved he was a playmaker last season. Moreover, the Vols don’t have much left at tailback other than Ty Chandler.
4. Ethan Wolf
Wolf is another senior that the Vols would have welcomed back for another season. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, Wolf could have been a safety valve for whoever wins the job. Wolf, who signed with the Tennessee Titans, will likely be replaced by junior college transfer Dominick Wood-Anderson. Wolf’s brother, Eli Wolf, will also be in the mix at tight end.
3. Rashaan Gaulden
Gaulden was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft after skipping his remaining college eligibility so he’s obviously talented. At 6-1, he has the size that Pruitt likes in defensive backs. While he mostly played nickel, Gaulden would have competed for a starting job at cornerback had he stayed at Tennessee. That would have helped the Vols as defensive back is an area of concern.
2. Jashon Robertson and Brett Kendrick
Let’s just lump these guys together. With an offensive line that has plenty of holes, these two versatile, experienced offensive linemen would almost assuredly had been starters this fall if their eligibility wasn’t up. Robertson started 45 games in his career. Kendrick started 29. UT fans would feel much better about the Vols’ offensive line had these two not been seniors last year.
Dormady’s decision to transfer to Houston was a bit baffling. He would have been a strong contender for the starting quarterback position had he stayed. Instead, the Vols will turn to sophomore Jarrett Guarantano and Stanford graduate transfer Keller Chryst. Both have accuracy issues. Dormady wasn’t perfect, but he might have been a better option than what the Vols have now.