Former Vols expected to be key contributors for national contenders

AP photo by Sue Ogrocki / Oklahoma running back Eric Gray (0) runs into the end zone to score a touchdown in front of defensive back Kendall Dennis during the Sooners' spring game on April 24 in Norman, Okla. Gray, defensive back Key Lawrence and offensive tackle Wanya Morris are all former Tennessee players who transferred in the offseason to join the Sooners.

The University of Tennessee hasn't finished a college football season ranked higher than 22nd since 2007, yet there still figures to be a heavy Volunteer flavor to the playoff picture this year.

Or to put it more accurately, an ex-Vol flavor.

While the transfer portal was particularly active during the most recent offseason, no team lost more star power than Tennessee, which fired coach Jeremy Pruitt in January when school officials said an internal investigation found serious NCAA violations.

Three teams ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press Top 25 landed notable former Tennessee players, with No. 1 Alabama now the football home of linebacker Henry To'o To'o and No. 10 North Carolina adding Ty Chandler at running back.

However, the Tennessee presence is most notable at No.