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Tayven Jackson enters transfer portal

Kinda figured this one was coming eventually.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Ball State at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

From the moment five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava made his commitment to Tennessee, you kind of figured that it would be Tayven Jackson as the odd man out. The former four-star prospect signed as a part of Tennessee’s class of 2022, and was unfortunately upstaged by one of the best players in the class of 2023.

Today, Jackson did what most felt would be inevitable — he entered the transfer portal.

Perhaps it was earlier than many of us thought, but Jackson was around long enough to see Iamaleava arrive and go through bowl practices with the team. During that period, Jackson was limited as he continued to recover from a collarbone injury.

Apparently that was enough time to see the writing on the wall. Instead of sticking around and battling with a guy who reportedly has an NIL package worth $8 million, Jackson will now look for a fresh start.

Jackson was the 198th ranked player in the 2022 class, coming from the state of Indiana. Per 247Sports, he was the 13th ranked quarterback in the cycle. Texas A&M, Michigan, Oregon and Auburn had offers out to Jackson, along with several others.

Jackson appeared in three games for Tennessee this season, securing his redshirt status which should leave him with four years of eligibility remaining.

On the Tennessee side, this sets up an official Joe Milton vs. Nico Iamaleava battle, set to begin in the spring. Offensive coordinator Joey Halzle has promised an open battle this offseason, although Milton’s Orange Bowl performance seemingly has given him a big lead to start.

Walk-on Gaston Moore is left as the third quarterback. The question now becomes this — are you comfortable with that? Moore has been with Heupel for some time now, and knows the system. Will Tennessee look to add another out of the portal? That’s a tough sell considering what’s on top of the depth chart, but perhaps it’s a needed insurance policy.