An exodus of talent from the Tennessee football program appears to be underway after the firing of coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine staff members left the Volunteers in limbo this week. Leading rusher Eric Gray and leading tackler Henry To’o To’o both entered the transfer portal on Wednesday, according to 247Sports, underscoring the issues the program’s next coach will face in rebuilding the roster amid the looming possibility of sanctions.
Gray ran for 1,311 yards and eight touchdowns on 258 carries in two seasons while also catching 43 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns. To’o To’o, meanwhile, racked up 140 tackles in two seasons. The two are among several Tennessee players who have either transferred or entered the portal in recent days. Most notably, former five-star offensive tackle Wanna Morris announced Monday he plans to transfer to Oklahoma after making 19 starts at Tennessee.
Quarterbacks Jarrett Guarantano (Washington State) and J.T. Shrout (Colorado), running back Ty Chandler (North Carolina), wide receiver Brandon Johnson (UCF) and linebacker Deandre Johnson (Miami) are among the team’s other high-profile departures so far. University administrators said Monday they plan to hire a new athletic director to replace the retiring Phillip Fulmer before hiring Pruitt’s replacement.
Former Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is serving as the interim coach, but Steele was not on staff under Pruitt and, ostensibly, does not have deep relationships with the current roster. Gray and To’o To’o were among the few bright spots of the Pruitt era as highly-touted members of the program’s 2019 signing class that was ranked No. 13 nationally by 247Sports.
Also entering the portal along with Gray and To’o To’o were former starting offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson and former four-star linebacker prospect Quavaris Crouch, who accounted for 85 tackles in two seasons.