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Wide receiver Brandon Johnson enters the transfer portal

A gritty upperclassman who stuck with Tennessee through tough times.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Redshirt senior wide receiver Brandon Johnson announced Monday that he will enter the transfer portal as a grad transfer.

Johnson departs Tennessee with career totals of 79 receptions, 969 yards, and one touchdown.

We spoke a bit about Johnson before the season started. His Tennessee career has been tumultuous. Originally a 2016 signee, Johnson has experienced constant change from year to year. A promising 2017 turned into a disappointing 2018, which turned into a redshirt year for 2019, and culminated in a bizarre 2020.

There was some hope that Johnson could turn into a reliable target for whoever took snaps under center for Tennessee. We all know by now, that never happened. But much of that was out of Johnson’s control. A lackluster offensive coordinator, musical chairs at quarterback, and general dysfunction meant that Johnson accumulated just 19 receptions for 231 yards this past season. That’s good for fifth on the team, behind running back Eric Gray and true freshman Jalin Hyatt. The writing was on the wall, so to speak.

It’s disappointing that Tennessee couldn’t remain stable enough to let Johnson shine. That being said, it’s probably best for him to pursue his transfer options, and hopefully blossom into a reliable possession receiver. His tweet indicates that he graduated, and was more than thankful to both coaching staffs he played under. His on field play may not have impressed, but he was a stable force in a locker room that doesn’t have many.

Johnson’s departure also means that the Volunteers might have a youth movement going at receiver for 2021. Senior Josh Palmer could very well choose to enter the NFL draft or transfer. So could Velus Jones Jr. That would mean three of the four top receivers for Tennessee might be gone heading into next year.

The Volunteers have three receivers committed in the 2021 class. They signed five in the 2020 cycle.