The when and where, however, remains up in the air.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the fact that Arnett has spent less than a year with the Vols — he signed his Letter of Intent in early February — means it may be in his best interests to stay with the Vols through spring practice before transferring. If the wide receiver were to leave prior to spending a year at the school, his appeal for a waiver that would allow him to play immediately at a new school instead of sitting out a transfer year would likely be denied.
The where of his ultimate transfer destination is very much uncertain as well. Arnett’s father lives in Saginaw and his health is in decline because of diabetes, a couple of heart attacks and multiple surgeries. Arnett. a four-star member of UT’s 2011 recruiting class and the No. 12 WR in the country, would like to transfer to either Michigan State or Michigan to be closer to his dad and still play at a BcS conference.
The only problem with that? Arnett told ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad in an email that the Vols will only release him from his scholarship to MAC schools.
“Coach [Derek] Dooley, myself or anybody doesn’t know what the future holds for my father,” Arnett said in the email. “I feel that I represented the University of Tennessee the best way I can on and off the field and I feel I have earned the right to be released unconditional to all schools in Michigan.”
That’s not exactly how his current school sees it.
“We’re not denying him a release to be near his family, get a good education and play Division 1 football at the same time, but we do have a policy of not releasing players to schools we either play or recruit against,” UT said in a statement to the News Sentinel. “Where he’s from, there are several good D-I schools nearby that would be good options to play football, get a good education and keep him near his family.”
In other words, UT is placing restrictions on where Arnett can transfer outside of the SEC, specifically to the two Michigan schools in the Big Ten. The Vols play neither MSU nor UM during the next three seasons, and had one player on their 2011 roster hailing from the state of Michigan — Arnett. By my count, a whopping total of four players from that 113-man-strong roster hailed from Midwestern states, and two of their 20 verbal commitments for the Class of 2012 are from that area.
In fairness, the Wolverines had 15 players on their 2011 roster that hailed from “SEC states”, while the Spartans had eight. Two players out of the 220 that litter the Michigan schools’ rosters this year are from the state of Tennessee. So, roughly 10 percent of those two schools’ rosters are composed of recruits from the SEC’s footprint, and UT is going to toss out a limp recruiting excuse that couldn’t be propped up with a pair of crutches and a quality medical plan?
And here I thought these types of things were a thing of the past upon the departure of The Most Hated Man in College Football. Hassling a kid who wants to be closer to his sick dad? You should be ashamed and embarrassed, Vols.
Then again, you can’t spell “gutless” without “UT”…