Vols gain three, lose one during busy Monday in the transfer portal

Oregon Athletics photo / Former Orgeon receiver Dont’e Thornton, who amassed 17 catches for 366 yards and a touchdown this past season for the Ducks, announced Monday that he would be continuing his career at Tennessee.

Tennessee's revolving door at receiver finally contains someone walking into the program.

Dont'e Thornton, a former top-100 national prospect who spent the past two seasons at Oregon, announced Monday afternoon via social media that he would be continuing his college career with the Volunteers.

Thornton's revelation was quite succinct, as the 6-foot-5, 199-pounder from Baltimore posted "GO VOLS!!!!!" on Twitter. Tennessee coach Josh Heupel responded to the news with a "#GBO."

The Vols are losing at least five receivers from their Orange Bowl championship team, with Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman off to the NFL and with Jimmy Calloway, Jimmy Holiday and Walker Merrill having entered the same NCAA transfer portal that has produced Thornton in Knoxville. Tennessee's 31-14 downing of Clemson in Miami Gardens transpired with Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy playing every snap at receiver and Squirrel White playing almost every snap.

Keyton, McCoy and White are returning, but the Vols went through a lesson in depth this past season when a high ankle sprain kept Tillman out of action for more than a month.

Tennessee also received a commitment Monday afternoon from Arizona State defensive tackle Omarr Norman-Lott, who was a four-star signee in 2020 and tallied 44 tackles and seven tackles for loss the past two seasons for the Sun Devils. The 6-3, 290-pounder from North Highlands, California, was the Pac-12 Conference's fifth highest-graded pass rusher from the defensive interior in 2021 as a redshirt freshman.

Norman-Lott announced his decision by posting "HOME" on Twitter, using the emoji of an orange as the "O." He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

The Vols gained a third commitment Monday night from Miami fifth-year senior offensive tackle John Campbell Jr., who made 11 starts on the left side this past season for the Hurricanes. The 6-5, 320-pounder from Orlando started twice at right tackle in 2019 and four times at left tackle in 2020 before missing the 2021 season after undergoing leg surgery.

Campbell will have one season of eligibility with the Vols.

Not all of Monday's portal news was favorable for Tennessee, as fifth-year senior linebacker Juwan Mitchell will be using his extra season of eligibility elsewhere. Mitchell tallied 43 tackles, three quarterback hurries and one interception this season, and his unexpected absence in addition to the departures of Jeremy Banks and Solon Page III have left the Vols with Aaron Beasley and Elijah Herring and very little else at that spot from an experience standpoint.

This is Mitchell's second trip into the portal, as the 6-1, 235-pounder from Newark, New Jersey, arrived at Tennessee in June 2021 after leading the 2020 Texas Longhorns in tackles with 62.

Thornton amassed 17 catches for 366 yards and a touchdown this past season for the Ducks, averaging a robust 21.5 yards per reception. He was the nation's No. 57 recruit in the 2021 signing cycle, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings and had nine catches for 175 yards and two scores as a freshman.

He entered the portal in late November and will have two seasons of eligibility with the Vols.

Three former Vols who entered the portal in recent days and weeks have made their next destinations known, with Holiday committing to Western Kentucky, offensive tackle RJ Perry to South Florida and running back Justin Williams-Thomas to California. Perry will be reunited with Alex Golesh, the new USF coach who spent the past two seasons as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, while Williams-Thomas has changed his Pac-12 pledge after first committing to Stanford.

This window of the NCAA transfer portal opened Dec. 5 and will run through Jan. 18.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.