Just a day after adding key depth during National Signing Day, the Tennessee football program lost some on Thursday.
Reserve tight end Eli Wolf announced on Twitter that he will transfer from the program and play his last season at Georgia.
“I want to thank everyone at Tennessee, past and present, who helped me grow on and off the field,” Wolf said in the tweet. “Special thanks to all of VolNation who have supported me on this journey. I will leave the University of Tennessee with great memories, lasting friendships, and a college degree.”
Wolf, whose brother Ethan started for the Vols and ranks fourth all-time in program history in tight end receiving yards, graduated from Tennessee and would have been entering his final year of eligibility. He made an impact on head coach Jeremy Pruitt during his first spring practice last year.
“When we started spring, Eli probably couldn't block me,” Pruitt said in 2018. “By the time spring was over with, Eli had learned to strain and tried to finish and really done a good job. If we can get everybody to compete and play with the effort and toughness and intensity that Eli was playing with maybe the last seven or eight practices, we're going to be fine.”
But Wolf split playing time on the field this past season with rising senior Dominick Wood-Anderson and rising redshirt junior and Christian Academy of Knoxville alum Austin Pope. He played in every game but caught just five passes for 30 yards and one touchdown.
He finished his Tennessee career with nine receptions for 86 yards and the lone touchdown.
“I am blessed, humbled, but most importantly very excited at the opportunity ahead of me,” Wolf said in the tweet. “Thanks again for all your support and God bless.”
Vols have returning options at tight end
The Vols will return Wood-Anderson and Pope for the upcoming season. Wood-Anderson had 17 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns in 2018, while Pope caught one pass for 55 yards.
They also will add incoming freshmen Jackson Lowe from Cartersville, Ga., and Sean Brown from Rome, Ga. Lowe, who has already enrolled at Tennessee, was a four-star recruit out of high school, while Brown is a three-star, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
“(Pruitt) told me I would have a better shot at being able to play early if I’m able to get on campus early so my body can get transitioned in the way it needs to be,” Lowe told 247Sports in December. “He said everybody’s going to have to work for (playing time). He just said if I work hard, we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Tennessee's tight ends also saw action at the fullback position last season when the Vols lined up in the I-formation, which may continue under new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, as Pruitt prefers a pro-style, clock-management system.