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Tennessee releases 2021 signee Cody Brown from NLI

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NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, running back Cody Brown will not play for Tennessee. The 2021 four-star running back has hinted at his potential release from the program, but today he made the official announcement.

Brown initially said that he was entering the transfer portal, but then clarified to say that Tennessee released him from his NLI on Tuesday.

Brown was part of a flurry of commitments that Tennessee picked up last spring, shooting them inside of the top five overall classes at the time. Of course, Jeremy Pruitt and his staff have since been fired after recruiting violations were discovered by an internal investigation. The penalties stemming from that situation remain to be seen.

Josh Heupel has since taken over, and it’s natural to have some fresh commitments that simply want to play elsewhere instead of playing for a staff that they weren’t recruited by. Pass rusher Dylan Brooks has also said that he’s pursuing his release from his NLI, but no official news has come down just yet.

Brown was the 232nd overall player in the 2021 class, ranking as the tenth best back in the group, per 247Sports. The 6-0, 217 pound prospect held several high-profile offers, including Auburn, Georgia, Florida State, Ohio State, LSU and Florida.

Tennessee is left with Jaylen Wright and JUCO stud Tiyon Evans in the 2021 class. With both Eric Gray and Ty Chandler transferring out this offseason, running back remains largely an unknown for Heupel in his first season. With a fresh set of eyes coming in and a brand new offensive system being installed, it’s going to be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the carries this fall.