The Tennessee Vols are expected to be active in the NCAA transfer portal as they look to upgrade their roster ahead of the 2023 season.

One player they’re already pursuing is Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Rara Thomas.

The Alabama native officially entered the transfer portal on Monday. Thomas was offered by Tennessee not long after entering the portal.

Thomas caught 44 passes for 626 yards and seven touchdowns this past season at Mississippi State.

The former three-star recruit, who runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.40 range, is an extremely athletic wide receiver (former standout basketball player with an impressive vertical leap), who can stretch the field and make contested catches.

On3 reported on Monday that Thomas is expected to visit Auburn on December 10 before heading to Georgia on December 11/12. He’s scheduled to visit Tennessee on December 17/18 (Ole Miss might get a visit, too).

Georgia is perceived to be the favorite in the battle for Thomas, but the Vols have a couple of things working in their favor.

For starters, Josh Heupel and his offensive staff have proven over the last two seasons that they can turn a wide receiver with modest numbers into a superstar. We saw it with Cedric Tillman in 2021 and Jalin Hyatt in 2022. Thomas should expect a similar boost in production if he transfers to Tennessee.

Another thing that could play a factor is the Heupel/Mike Leach connection.

Leach, the head coach at Mississippi State, had a major impact on Heupel during their lone season together at Oklahoma in 1999. And while Heupel’s offense is different than Leach’s, there are some similarities. Thomas, in theory, should be able to fit into Heupel’s system somewhat seamlessly.

You can’t blame any transfer player for eyeing the Bulldogs — they’re the top program in college football over the last two seasons — but Tennessee could be a more attractive option for a wide receiver looking to become a household name.

Featured image via Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

What was the BEST moment of the Vols season?