As classes begin for the spring semester, Tennessee has confirmed that six players will not be joining the rest of the team in preparation for the 2013 season. As has been long known, Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter will enter the NFL draft, but Evan Woodbery confirms that, as has been assumed by most fans, Cordarrelle Patterson will be joining them, leaving Tennessee to replace its starting quarterback and top four pass-catchers from 2012 (Hunter, Patterson, Mychal Rivera, and Zach Rogers).
Additionally, Omari Phillips, Trent Taylor, and Deion Bonner, all freshmen, will not be with the program moving forward. Phillips and Taylor, both defensive linemen, had been away from the team to focus on academics for the latter part of 2012. Bonner, a highly-touted cornerback whose iPhone theft as a recruit caused him to drop off the radar of some high-profile schools, was listed as a suspect in a cellphone theft in October.
This leaves Tennessee with 23 scholarships open for the 2013 recruiting class, although they are expected to sign up to 27 players, including five who were scheduled to start classes this week.
update: Darrington Sentimore has also declared for the NFL draft. Sentimore started at defensive end last year, and his loss leaves Tennessee painfully thin at the position. This leaves Tennessee with 24 or 23 open scholarships (depending on whose count is right), minus the five taken by early enrollees.