J.J. Peterson, Tennessee football's top signee in 2018, enters transfer portal
J.J. Peterson, the first heralded recruit of Jeremy Pruitt's tenure as the Tennessee football coach entered the transfer portal Monday.
Peterson's recruiting promise never turned into production in two-plus seasons with the Volsas a Vol. He stepped away from the Tennessee program in October. Peterson was the top prospect to sign with UT in the 2018 class as the No. 48 prospect in the 247Sports Composite.
Peterson made 12 tackles in 17 career games. He did not play in 2020 before he left the program.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Peterson enrolled at UT in late August 2018 out of Moultrie (Georgia) Colquitt County. He was cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center after completing some academic requirements during the summer before he could enroll. He redshirted that first season while appearing in four games, mostly on special teams.
Peterson played in all 13 games in 2019 as a reserve and made 11 tackles. Peterson shifted from inside linebacker to outside linebacker prior to last season, but he did not crack the two-deep depth chart.
Tennessee has had 16 scholarship players enter the portal since Dec. 1. Eleven of the players started for Tennessee in 2020 and 13 had started during their Vols career.
Peterson is the sixth Vol to enter the portal since Pruitt was fired for cause Jan. 18 amid an investigation that revealed sweeping recruiting violations within the football program. Chancellor Donde Plowman called the investigation's findings "stunning" based on the amount of violations and number of people involved.
Linebacker Henry To'o To'o, running back Eric Gray, linebacker Quavaris Crouch and offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson entered the transfer portal Wednesday night. All four entered the portal in a 27-minute span.
Defensive back Key Lawrence entered the portal on Jan. 22. He announced his transfer to Oklahoma on Monday. Lawrence, a Nashville Ensworth product, was the No. 81 prospect in the nation in the 247Sports Composite for the 2020 class.
Peterson and Lawrence were the top-ranked recruits in their respective recruiting classes. Crouch, Gray, To'o To'o and offensive tackle Wanya Morris were also among the top recruits Pruitt signed.
The latter four were ranked among Tennessee's top seven signees in the 2019 class, which ranked No. 13 in the nation in the 247Sports Composite.
Morris, one of two five-star recruits to sign with UT under Pruitt, committed to Oklahoma. Morris was the No. 28 prospect in the 247Sports Composite. To'o To'o was No. 44, Crouch No. 61 and Gray No. 184.
Six Vols have transferred to Power 5 schools: Lawrence (Oklahoma), Morris (Oklahoma), quarterback J.T. Shrout (Colorado), outside linebacker Deandre Johnson (Miami), quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (Washington State) and running back Ty Chandler (North Carolina).
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.