USC wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. announces transfer to Tennessee

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Senior wide receiver Velus Jones is leaving USC Football. He’s headed to the Tennessee Volunteers as a graduate transfer for the 2020 season.

In a move that has been in the making for a year, Velus Jones Jr. announced Thursday he is rejoining former USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin at Tennessee.  This was his second consecutive offseason in the transfer portal.

Jones Jr. made the announcement on Twitter, saying, “I want to thank the University of Southern California and Clay Helton for allowing me to get my degree and also for the life-changing experiences and connections I will have for life.

“Also want to thank the coaches that reached out to me when I entered the transfer portal,” Jones continued. “With that being said I will play my last year of college football at the University of Tennessee.”

It’s no secret Graham Harrell’s arrival at USC created an expectation Jones Jr. would see an expansion of his role in the Air Raid offense. However, that never came to fruition. After catching 24 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown in 2018, the redshirt junior only tallied six receptions for 35 yards in the Air Raid last season.

Touted as the fastest player in the Trojan receiving corps, Jones Jr. was seen as a potential weapon in the slot. Yet, Harrell chose to give Amon-Ra St. Brown and big-bodied freshman Drake London most of the snaps on the inside. The strategy worked well for the Trojans, as both St. Brown and London were extremely productive in 2019.

Instead, Jones Jr. will be remembered as a returner. He was USC’s primary kick returner for the last three seasons, averaging 24 yards per return on 81 chances. His lone touchdown on special teams came on a 100-yard return in the Trojans’ season opener against Fresno State.

With one season of eligibility remaining, the Saraland, Alabama product moves closer to home as a  graduate transfer and reunites with Martin who featured the receiver on offense with regularity in 2018.

As for USC, Helton has a ready-made replacement for Jones Jr. in incoming freshman Gary Bryant Jr. and could turn to Kenan Christon or Isaac Taylor-Stewart to return kicks in 2020.