Stop me if you’ve heard this before — a Tennessee defensive back is planning on entering the transfer portal. This one’s a big one, too.
Tamarion McDonald, a multi-year starter at the STAR position for Tennessee, is planning on entering his name in the transfer portal. The report comes from Matt Zenitz this afternoon.
Tennessee starting defensive back Tamarion McDonald is entering the transfer portal, sources tell @247sports.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) December 11, 2023
McDonald, who has been a starter for the Vols the last two years, has 116 career tackles and four career interceptions.https://t.co/6Cw7NKmknb pic.twitter.com/wfwvWM62JI
McDonald has been a mainstay on the Tennessee defense for the past two seasons, manning the nickel spot for Willie Martinez. He will have one year of eligibility remaining, opting to use his COVID season.
The Memphis native waited his turn to start for the Volunteers, getting his shot after spending two seasons as a role player. He will exit Tennessee with four career interceptions and 115 career tackles. McDonald was credited with 12 pass breakups during his four seasons.
The 6-2, 208 pound defensive back will now look elsewhere for a new program, and perhaps a new role as he attempts to catch the eye of NFL scouts. This situation seems very similar to that of Tyler Baron’s — a veteran with one season left with a chance to cash in on more NIL money. It’s just the reality that we live in during this version of the transfer portal era.
Tennessee now very well could be looking at a total flip of the secondary. Jaylen McCollough and Kamal Hadden saw their eligibility expire, while Doneiko Slaughter, Warren Burrell and Brandon Turnage each hit the portal, now along with McDonald.
Martinez and Tim Banks are now looking at a potentially very young group in the backend for next year with Rickey Gibson and Jordan Matthews leading the way at cornerback. Jourdan Thomas did get some time at the STAR down the stretch of the season as McDonald was dinged up with injuries.
Following all the departures, it’s looking more and more like Tennessee will need to add a veteran body or two to bolster the depth of the secondary.