Are Rashaan Gaulden, John Kelly leaning toward NFL draft?
SEC Country reporter Mike Griffith will answer your Tennessee football questions in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @MikeGriffith32.
Tennessee Question of the Day:
Tuesday, Nov. 20
So we have any players that may leave early? And if so, would they change their mind if the “right” coach was hired?
— Deck the Vols with Gruden signing (@Georgia_VOL) November 21, 2017
Multiple sources have told SEC Country that nickleback Rashaan Gaulden is leaning toward Saturday being his last appearance as a Vols’ football player.
Could a new head coach make a difference in Gaulden’s case? Maybe, but the sooner the better.
With no bowl game to prepare for, Gaulden could quickly shift into the mode of prepping for NFL workouts with a combine invite in mind.
Gaulden has been the Vols’ most consistent defensive player, with three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, while also ranking fifth on the team with 58 tackles.
The biggest drawback for Gaulden is he may be viewed as not having a true position at the next level.
Tennessee junior tailback John Kelly had once been leaning toward forgoing his senior year — and still might — but his citation earlier this month for misdemeanor marijuana possession and a disappointing second half of 2017 has him leaning toward a return.
Kelly leads the SEC with 51 missed tackles forced this season and has proven to be a tough, versatile back, but his lack of top-end speed will cap his draft stock.
Junior quarterback Quinten Dormady will have a decision to make, in terms of staying at Tennessee or transferring. The same could be said for redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano and true freshman Will McBride, as they must evaluate their fit with the new head coach.
Junior offensive guard Jack Jones has already announced he’s retiring from football because of a neck injury after starting the first three games this season.
There could be other attrition with the coaching change, as well, but to this point the 2016 and 2017 signing classes have held together impressively.
Junior receiver Jauan Jennings, who suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener, posted on his Instagram account that he’s returning, and a family member confirmed that decision to SEC Country.