The Tennessee Volunteers are no stranger to the NCAA transfer portal, and one of their best quarterback recruits in recent memory has decided to use it.
Sophomore Harrison Bailey, a four-star pro-style QB, has officially entered his name into the transfer portal, and there’s no doubt he’ll have his pick of suitors given how highly-coveted he was coming out of Marietta, Georgia two years ago.
“Dear Tennessee, thank you for allowing me to pursue my academic and athletic career here at this prestigious university,” Bailey wrote in his Twitter farewell. “I would like to thank everyone that has helped me develop into the person I am today, on and off the field.
“To my brothers: I love you guys. We made a lifetime of memories over the last few years. Thank you for always supporting me through thick and thin. It’s with a heavy heart, I would like to announce that I will be entering my name into the transfer portal and exploring other options.”
Bailey is the third quarterback to transfer from Tennessee in the last calendar year, joining Jarrett Guarantano and J.T. Shrout last season. Four-star recruit Kaidon Salter was also dismissed from the program in June following a few off-field incidents and a suspension from the team.
In 2018, Bailey, a top-100 prospect, picked the Vols over other SEC schools including Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Auburn, Florida and LSU. Knoxville-based reporter Richard G. West has reported Bailey has already been in contact with schools like Ole Miss, Liberty and Appalachian State.
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has reportedly spoken highly of Bailey’s Heisman potential, according to West. Kiffin will lose his starting QB Matt Corral, a projected first-round pick in the next year's NFL Draft, after the 2021 season.
The 6-foot-5 Bailey showed promise in three starts as a freshman, completing 48 of 68 passes for 578 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. This season, though, he fell down the depth chart in favor of transfers Hendon Hooker and Joe Milton III as Tennessee switched over from Jeremy Pruitt’s offensive staff to the one led by first-year Vols coach Josh Heupel.
Bailey got minimal playing time in 2021, completing just 3 of 7 passes for 16 yards.
Hooker has had a breakout season for the Vols, throwing for 1,578 yards and 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s helped the Vols to a 4-4 record after Milton struggled in UT's first two games.
In Heupel’s first year, expectations were quite low for the Vols after the fallout of the NCAA's investigation into former head coach Jeremy Pruitt for recruiting violations which led to his subsequent dismissal.
On their bye this week, the Vols will travel to No. 12 Kentucky on Nov. 6 before hosting top-ranked Georgia on Nov. 13.