There was one notable absence during warmups for Tennessee on Saturday ahead of their contest with the Florida Gators. Sophomore receiver Ramel Keyton was nowhere to be found, prompting reporters to ask about him following the 31-19 loss.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced that Keyton would be stepping away from football for the rest of the year to focus on academics.
“Ramel is not going to finish the year playing football,” Pruitt said on Saturday night. “He’s going to continue to focus on academics. That will be a great opportunity for him.”
Senior defensive back Shawn Shamburger made the same decision a couple of weeks ago, while receiver Deangelo Gibbs made the same call at the beginning of the year.
Keyton, a 6-3, 195 pound receiver, had nine catches for 76 yards on the season. That coming after a four catch, 104 yard season in 2019. He was a high school teammate of Harrison Bailey, who earned his first career start at quarterback against Florida on Saturday.
This 50-50 ball win for Ramel Keyton shows some promise for the future. The cornerback does a decent job in coverage. Keyton just takes it from him. It's not even simultaneous possession. Keyton just flat out wins the fight for the ball. #Vols pic.twitter.com/hfswaBSwkv— Joel Silverberg (@JoelSilverberg) January 3, 2020
Keyton’s opt out ends a disappointing second season in Knoxville, but considering the state of Tennessee’s quarterback room, it’s tough to put too much blame on Keyton himself. The former four-star prospect will be a sophomore once again in 2021, likely a favorite to take a leap forward now with two years under his belt.