The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football program again has benefited from a former Navy commitment's decision to transfer.
Two-way lineman Chris "Tra" Palmer started every game on the defensive line for the Naval Prep School last season but has decided to transfer to UTC, where he likely will compete to join the offensive line rotation.
Palmer will be the fourth player on the Mocs' 2014 roster to have transferred from the Naval Academy's program, joining offensive lineman Chris Mayes, defensive lineman Daniel Ring and receiver James Stovall.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Palmer, who had been recruited by the Mocs while he was an all-state lineman at Collins Hill (Ga.) High, chose UTC over offers from Middle Tennessee State and Georgia State and will count as part of the 2014 signing class, which was already ranked No. 1 among FCS programs.
"I already knew some of their coaches and liked them from before," Palmer said. "And when I visited there, my parents loved everything about the program and so did I. It just felt comfortable, and I had a bond right away with some of their players.
"After getting [to Navy], the military side of it just wasn't what I wanted for my future."
Since the Mocs have one of the deepest defensive line rotations among FCS programs, Palmer will fill a much more immediate need for depth along the offensive line, likely at the guard position. There he would join Mayes, who made the transition to offense after having played defensive tackle previously.
"Knowing I could earn playing time pretty quick was a factor in helping me decide to come to UTC, too," Palmer said. "Plus I know they're expected to be really good, and I wanted to help a team that has a good shot at going to the playoffs and doing big things."
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Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...