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So Long, Farewell: the Butch Jones Era Transfers

The final game of the Butch Jones era is upon us. There may be a new coach in Knoxville in the next 72 hours, and this would mean the beginning of a brand new era. One of the things that Butch Jones will be remembered for the most is the amount of players he ended up running off from Tennessee. To see just how much talent has left the program, I went through 24/7Sports rankings of each class and compiled some information about each player that ended up leaving. I analyzed the 2013-2016 classes, because those were players signed by Butch Jones. To a long, sad journey: Dilly dilly!

2013 Class: 

Butch Jones assembled his first class at Tennessee rather hastily. It was impressive what he was able to do in a short time, holding onto Alabama target Jason Carr and flipping Arizona State commit Joshua Dobbs. Tennessee tried to convert Carr to the offensive line. As a result, the third ranked recruit in the class ended up dropping down to Division II at West Georgia.  However, he still got a shot in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Riley Ferguson is one of the hottest QB prospects in the nation and is lighting up the AAC at Memphis. Butch Jones chose to start Justin Worley over him. As a result, he left. Riyahd Jones’ story is one of the many that has come out about Butch Jones’ abuse of players. It is easy to see why he transferred. The 2013 class had a lot of losses on the defensive line and at the wide receiver position. This is consequently reflected in later recruiting classes.


2014 Class:

The 2014 class was the high point of Butch Jones’ recruiting at Tennessee. Jones filled the class to the brim with legacies and elite talent. The most noteworthy transfer is obviously Jalen Hurd. D’Andre Payne plays a prominent role on a good Iowa State team. Dimarya Mixon played a key depth role on the defensive line. Tennessee would’ve been very happy to have him this season. Dewayne Hendrix and Michael Sawyers are underrated losses. They could’ve filled major roles over the past two years. Case and point, Dewayne Hendrix fell on the ball to end the Miami-Pitt game.

Neiko Creamer was a prospect I was very high on coming out of high school who has now reunited with his old position coach at Eastern Kentucky. Vic Wharton plays for Cal and is one of their top receivers. Charles Mosley provided depth on the offensive line that Tennessee sorely lacks right now. Losing three tailbacks and four (or five) defensive linemen also hurt Tennessee’s depth quite a bit. There’s no doubt that cost Tennessee games.


2015 Class:

Well, this is sad. The news about Jauan Jennings being dismissed came through as I was working on this section. That only added to the offensive losses from the class. That made it three wide receivers and two running backs, along with a quarterback and several offensive linemen. Venzell Boulware announcing his transfer midseason also hurt the Vols a lot. This rings especially true as Tennessee goes into the Vanderbilt game with four freshmen starting.

An underrated loss from this class was Vincent Perry, who was impressing as a slot receiver before academic issues threatened his eligibility. Sheriron Jones would have been a welcome relief once Dormady and Guarantano went down midseason. Jack Jones’ neck injury was an unfortunate situation that also hurt the Tennessee offensive line.


2016 Class:

There isn’t a ton to say about the 2016 transfers. Mykelle McDaniel was a late addition to the class and one I was particularly keen on. Unfortunately he never could seem to put it all together at Tennessee. Corey Henderson had eligibility issues and chose to go the JUCO route.


Overall Takeaways:

  • The most impacted position was defensive end, with eight players leaving
  • Wide receiver was the second most, with seven
  • Linebacker, surprisingly, had zero
  • Players who left:
    • 28.9% Top 300 recruits
    • 60.5% offensive
    • 36.8%  defensive
  • Tennessee could really use some of those six offensive linemen who’ve left
  • 35.9% of all players signed from 2013-2016 are no longer with the program, which is astounding
    • That number jumps to 41.6% when you exclude the 2016 class

Attrition is normal, yet this level of attrition is not. While all of the stories behind the reasons these players transferred come out, fans are beginning to gain insight into how Butch Jones ran his program. We may never know why each player left, but it is now clear to see why so many did. And (hopefully) in less than 72 hours, we won’t have to worry about it ever again!

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