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Tennessee loses former four-star defender Aaron Willis to transfer portal

Tyler Mansfield05/02/22
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Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

Aaron Willis – who played in just one game for Tennessee last season – has entered his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal, per On3’s Matt Zenitz. The school has already removed him from its online roster.

A 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker, Willis was a freshman for the Volunteers last season and registered one total tackle in Tennessee’s blowout win over South Alabama on Nov. 20.

Willis, who is a former On3 Consensus four-star recruit out of the Class of 2021, held a number of offers coming out of Life Christian Academy – including from Alabama, Georgia and Clemson – before ultimately picking Tennessee.

Willis will be a sophomore wherever he ends up for the 2022 season.

Transfer portal background information for Willis

The NCAA Transfer Portal, which covers every NCAA sport at the Division I, II and III levels, is a private database with names of student-athletes who wish to transfer. It is not accessible to the public.

The process of entering the portal is done through a school’s compliance office. Once a player provides written notification of an intent to transfer, the office enters the player’s name in the database and everything is off and running. The compliance office has 48 hours to comply with the player’s request and that request cannot be refused.

Once a player’s name shows up in the portal, other schools can contact the player. Players can change their minds at any point and withdraw from the portal. However, once a player enters the portal, the current scholarship no longer has to be honored. In other words, if a player enters the portal but decides to stay, the school is not obligated to provide a scholarship anymore.

The database is a normal database, sortable by a variety of topics, including (of course) sport and name. A player’s individual entry includes basic details such as contact info, whether the player was on scholarship and whether the player is transferring as a graduate student.

A player can ask that a “do not contact” tag be placed on the report. In those instances, the players don’t want to be  contacted by schools unless they’ve initiated the communication.

The portal has been around since Oct. 15, 2018 and the new calendar cycle within the portal begins each August. For example, the 2021-22 cycle started Aug. 1. During the 2020-21 cycle, 2,626 FBS football players entered the transfer portal (including walk-ons). That comes after 1,681 entered during the 2019-20 cycle and 1,709 during the abbreviated 2018-19 cycle. In comparison, 1,833 Division I basketball players entered the portal during the 2020-21 cycle after totals of 1,020 in 2019-20 and 1,063 in 2018-19.