"Kenny O'Neal has decided to transfer," head coach Phillip Fulmer said in a brief statement released by the university's sports information department, "and we wish him well."
Few signees in recent years have received the fanfare that accompanied O'Neal's arrival on The Hill. No wonder. Consider the resume' he brought:
- He was the son of former NFL tight end Kenny O'Neal, Sr.
- He was a High School All-American after catching 36 passes for 850 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior year in San Ramon, Calif.
- He started two games as a freshman at Florida State.
- He recorded a team-best 75-yard touchdown catch/run in his only season at Tallahassee, finishing with five grabs for 110 yards.
- He left FSU due to academic problems and enrolled at City College of San Francisco, where he averaged 14.7 yards on 60 catches and scored 11 touchdowns.
When junior superstar Robert Meachem opted to bypass his senior season as a Vol and declare for the 2007 NFL Draft, Tennessee found itself without a big-play receiver. The February signing of the speedy O'Neal was supposed to rectify that situation. It didn't.
O'Neal caught just two passes last fall – a 10-yard gainer against Arkansas State and a 49-yard touchdown reception against Louisiana-Lafayette. He played in 12 of 14 UT games, sitting out the Mississippi State contest and the Outback Bowl game with Wisconsin.
Supposedly, O'Neal was not a guy Vol quarterbacks found dependable – sometimes running a wrong route or a sloppy route. With all of the receivers starting from scratch this spring under new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, however, O'Neal appeared to have a chance to rescue his career.
It didn't happen, though. He failed to catch a pass in any of the three full-scale spring scrimmages and was not among the 15 players who caught at least one pass in the Orange & White Game.
Perhaps O'Neal will find a school to his liking, blend in quickly and have a big senior year in 2008. Regardless, his Vol career could be summed up in four words: Much ado about nothing.