The new world of college and the transfer portal lets coaches fill immediate needs on their team. Could Tennessee football be addressing a big one soon?
We’ve already seen Josh Heupel fill immediate needs by picking up an offensive lineman, and a tight end. He’s also been going after wide receivers who could step in the big shoes of Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman.
It is expected that Tennessee will go after defensive players once bowl season concludes. Many more players may enter the transfer portal once their season formally ends.
As for now, it seems Heupel has identified another potential position with an immediate hole: quarterback. Hendon Hooker’s Tennessee football career is finished.
The Vols are left with Joe Milton III, who is unproven and has been benched in the past for accuracy issues, Tayven Jackson, another unproven quarterback with little experience, and Nico Iamaleava, a true freshman. It is understandable why Heupel may want a proven quarterback out of the portal.
The proven quarterback he may be going after? Wake Forest Demon Deacons transfer quarterback Sam Hartman.
In five years as a Demon Deacon, Hartman threw for 12,967 yards on 59.1% passing. He also threw for 110 touchdowns and 41 interceptions. He most recently led Wake Forest to a 27-17 victory over Missouri in the Gasparilla Bow and holds the Wake Forest record for most touchdowns in a single season.
Hartman seems like a perfect fit for Heupel’s explosive offense. He has been able to put up video game numbers with a lot less talent around him. Let him throw to SEC receivers, and his numbers would likely be even better.
Hartman officially entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, according to ON3, after it was rumored he would for some time. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson aired his displeasure with the transfer portal ahead of Gasparilla Bowl.
North Carolina head coach Mack Brown has also echoed Clawson’s concerns when his quarterback, Drake Maye, seemed to be flirting with the transfer portal.
As for where Hartman is headed, it seems the writing is on the wall. Many expect Hartman to transfer to Notre Dame.
Tennessee football could easily swoop in and get Hartman from Notre Dame. The draft-eligible quarterback is likely plotting his choices for the next season, and the Vols have the resources to land Hartman if they choose so.
Another thing that might help is how the two teams finish bowl season. Notre Dame faces South Carolina in the Gator Bowl on Friday. Watching the Irish lose on Friday, followed by a Tennessee win over Clemson, may be enough to sway Hartman.
What it will likely come down to is NIL money, as we have seen before. Hartman still may choose the NFL, where he would probably be a 6th or 7th-round pick.