Josh Heupel, Tennessee will have thin roster

Adam Luckett3 months


Aritcle written by:Adam LuckettAdam Luckett


Middle Tennessee v Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7: A Tennessee Volunteer holds up his helmet in the team huddle before the NCAA football game against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Neyland Stadium on September 7, 2002 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 26-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
[caption id="attachment_357721" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Tennessee - football (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)[/caption] The deck was always going to be stacked against Josh Heupel. Shortly following the Tennessee administration reporting its football program's recruiting violations to the NCAA, the decision-makers in Knoxville decided to remove athletic director Phil Fulmer from his post and hand head coach Jeremy Pruitt his walking papers after just three years of service. After hiring UCF athletic director Danny White, UCF head coach Josh Heupel quickly followed after the Vols were unable to convince Penn State head coach James Franklin or Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott to move to Rocky Top. Then, the transfer portal happened. On Wednesday, defensive lineman Darel Middleton entered the transfer portal after starting a combined 12 games over the last two seasons. This was just a week after defensive lineman Greg Emerson also headed into the portal after starting nine games during his career in Knoxville. To say the roster management issues at Tennessee are currently a dumpster fire would be an understatement. Since Pruitt was released, Tennessee has lost 28 players to the transfer portal. TWENTY-EIGHT. Some of those players have landed at Oklahoma, Texas A&M, UCF, Washington State, North Carolina, Michigan State, Alabama, and Georgia Tech. This was on top of losing some original class of 2021 signees to Auburn and Miami. Tennessee has responded by adding nine players from the transfer portal, but there is still a void on the roster. The Vols are very much in danger of playing the college football season with less than 70 scholarship players. In the class of 2021, only 13 high school signees remain, and those scholarship players have yet to go through a training camp. In the class 0f 2020, two of the top four signees -- Key Lawrence and Malachi Wideman -- have left the roster. Three of the four top-100 recruits in the class of 2019 -- Wanya Morris, Henry To'o To'o, and Quavaris Crouch -- have all moved on to greener pastures. Over at Draft Kings, the season total for the Vols sits at six wins with the juice leaning towards the under. That is starting to feel like a safe bet. The roster that Josh Heupel is set to take the field with is one we've seen in the past when scholarship reductions take place from NCAA penalities. Those are on the way in Knoxville but have not arrived yet. Tennessee's depth will be tested early and often while this roster makes the transition to a brand new coaching staff. Drawing Alabama and Ole Miss out of the SEC West will make things not very easy in the conference. This is all on top of a major QB competition with a pair of transfers -- Virginia Tech's Hendon Hooker and Michigan's Joe Milton -- attempting to beat out former top-100 recruit Harrison Bailey. This is going to be a very tough debut season at Neyland Stadium for Heupel.

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