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Tennessee officially announces addition of USC transfer WR Velus Jones

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The newest member of the Tennessee Vols football team is officially onboard.

Earlier this month, Velus Jones announced on social media that he would be transferring from USC to Tennessee. Two weeks later, the Tennessee Vols football program confirmed the wide receiver’s addition to the roster.

The move continues what’s been a winding, twisting collegiate journey for Jones.

Originally committed to Alabama, Jones flipped to USC… then to Oklahoma… then back to USC before ultimately signing with the Trojans in 2016. In March of 2019, Jones placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. Three months later, however, Jones reversed course and remained with the Trojans.

Jones, a three-star 2016 signee coming out of high school in Alabama, was fourth on the Trojans in receptions (24) and receiving yards (266) as a redshirt sophomore in 2018. He also led the team with a 22.7 yards per kick return average. A year later, though, that production dropped to just 35 yards on six receptions.

For his career thus far, Jones has totaled 347 yards and a touchdown on his 36 catches.  He also scored a rushing touchdown in 2018.  On 82 kick returns spread out over three seasons, he averaged 23.7 per.

As a graduate transfer, Jones will be eligible to play for the Vols in 2020.  The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.

LSU, two B1G schools will have most players on Super Bowl rosters

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The LSU Tigers football program represented the sport well in winning the 2019 national championship, and now they’re set to be well-represented when the next level crowns its Super Bowl champion as well.

Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs again overcame an early deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game. In the NFC championship game, the San Francisco 49ers pummeled the Green Bay Packers to earn a berth opposite the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That game will be played at the home of the Miami Hurricanes, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Feb. 2.

The 49ers, seeking their first Super Bowl win since 1994, have four former LSU football players currently listed on their official online roster*. The Chiefs, in search of their first title since 1969, have one former LSU football player on their Super Bowl roster. That total of five is tied for the most for a single school in this year’s game.

The number for LSU is matched by a pair of schools from the Big Ten — Iowa and Penn State — for the most players on Super Bowl rosters this year. Three former Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes play for the 49ers, two for the Chiefs.

Two SEC schools, Florida and Vanderbilt, each have four former players as part of the game, as does Stanford. Middle Tennessee State and San Diego State are two of a gaggle of schools with three players on teams playing in the game, which is the most of any Group of Five conference member.

Conference-wise, it was the SEC leading the way (again) with 32 players, followed by the Big Ten’s 22. The ACC (17), Pac-12 (16), Big 12 (12) and Conference USA (11) were the only other FBS leagues in double digits.

As for the other conferences?

  • Mountain West, nine
  • AAC, six
  • MAC, five
  • Sun Belt, four

Football independents accounted for six players. There were a total of 21 players who played at levels of football other than the FBS.

Below are all of the individual schools that will be represented on Super Sunday:

FIVE
Iowa
LSU
Penn State

FOUR
Florida
Stanford
Vanderbilt

THREE
Arizona
Auburn
Clemson
Kansas State
Middle Tennessee State
Mississippi State
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Pittsburgh
San Diego State
South Carolina

TWO
Alabama
BYU
Central Michigan
Duke
FAU
Florida State
Georgia Southern
Michigan
Michigan State
NC State
Ole Miss
Oregon
Purdue
Southern Miss
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
USF
Utah
Virginia

ONE
Air Force
Alabama A&M
Appalachian State
Arizona State
Arkansas
Baylor
Boston College
Bowling Green State
Buffalo
Cal
Cincinnati
Colorado
Colorado State
Colorado State-Pueblo
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Eastern Washington
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Grand Valley State
Harvard
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana
James Madison
Louisiana Tech
Louisiana
McGill (Canada)
Minnesota
Montana State
New Hampshire
New Mexico State
North Texas
Northern Illinois
Northern Iowa
Oklahoma State
Old Dominion
Oregon State
Princeton
Samford
San Diego
San Jose State
SMU
South Carolina State
TCU
Temple
Texas Tech
UConn
Utah State
Valdosta State
Villanova
Virginia Tech
Wagner
Washington
West Alabama
Western Illinois
Western Kentucky
Wyoming

(*Includes players on injured reserve, practice squad, etc.)

No. 1 2021 QB who decommitted from Oklahoma commits to Georgia

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Oklahoma’s loss will apparently turn into a big gain for the Georgia Bulldogs football program.

In June of 2019, Brock Vandagriff, the top quarterback in the Class of 2021, committed to Oklahoma.  A little over six months later, the Georgia high schooler announced on Twitter that he had decided to decommit from the Sooners.

On Twitter Tuesday morning, Vandagriff tweeted he’s “staying home,” committing to play for the Georgia Bulldogs football team.  Athens is less than 20 miles from the Prince Avenue Christian School product’s home in Bogart, Ga.

“These last couple of months have brought to my attention how hard it is going to be for me to attend college so far away from home,” Vandagriff wrote in decommitting from OU earlier this month.

Prior to this announcement, Vandagriff had visited the UGA campus each of the past two weekends.

Not only is Vandagriff the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2021, he’s also the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Georgia and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.

Prior to committing to Oklahoma last summer, Georgia was also one of six finalists that included Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Tennessee.  In the end, though, being close to home was a big piece of Vandagriff’s recruiting puzzle.

From DawgNation.com:

Oklahoma was a great fit given his skill set. Now toss in Lincoln Riley and his reputation for building up No. 1 draft choices-slash-Heisman winners at that position. It made a lot of sense.

Except when Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around this past year. Those family ties tugged at his heart. He couldn’t sleep and found himself praying it.

“My Dad and I, we talked and stuff,” Brock Vandagriff said. “We are kind of sacrificing the best fit for me just for some other things that are priorities now.”

USC receiver announces graduate transfer to Tennessee

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The long and winding road for wide receiver Velus Jones will now, finally, bring him to the SEC. The USC graduate transfer has announced he is moving on to Tennessee.

Jones announced his transfer decision with a statement share don his Twitter account. As a graduate transfer, Jones will be eligible to play his final season of eligibility with the Vols in 2020.

“I want to thank the University of Southern California and Clay Helton for allowing me to get my degree and also for the life changing experiences and connections I will have for life,” Jones said in his statement. “With that being said, I will play my last year of college football at the University of Tennessee.”

Jones appeared in 12 games for the Trojans in 2019, in which he caught six passes for 35 yards. Jones originally committed to Alabama during his recruiting process. He then flipped to USC, then to Oklahoma, and back to USC. Jones previously entered the NCAA transfer portal in 2019 before ultimately deciding to stay put with the Trojans for the 2019 season. Now, he will travel to Tennessee for one more year of college football.

 

Trey Smith will return to Tennessee for senior season

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Thursday brought some very welcome news to the Tennessee Vols football program.

“He’s back.”

That was the simple message on the Tennessee Vols football Twitter account early this afternoon, signaling that Trey Smith will be returning for his senior season in 2020.  Smith also confirmed the news on his own Twitter account.

The standout offensive lineman had been weighing a return versus leave UT early for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The announcement is the next leg of what’s been a trying journey the last couple of years for Smith.

In mid-July of 2018, as the lineman dealt with an unspecified health issue, head coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that Smith had been medically cleared, albeit on a limited, non-contact basis, to participate in practice when Tennessee kicked off summer camp the following month. It was subsequently revealed that Smith had been dealing with blood clots in his lungs, although he was cleared in late August of 2018 for full contact.

In October of that year, it was announced that the blood clot issue would sideline Smith indefinitely.  He ended up missing the remainder of the 2018 season.

Cleared to return in 2019, however, Smith played the entire year and earned first-team All-SEC honors after starting 11 games at left guard.  All told, Smith has started all 32 games in which he’s played at UT.

A consensus five-star 2017 signee, Smith started all 12 games for the Volunteers as a true freshman. In the Nov. 4 win over Southern Miss, Smith became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for UT in more than three decades. Smith, who led the Volunteers in knockdowns with 55, started games at four of the five positions along the offensive line, the lone exception being center.

Based on that debut performance, Smith earned consensus Freshman All-American honors and was named second-team All-SEC.