After SEC rule change, ex-Alabama OL Brandon Kennedy headed to Tennessee

New Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, the former Alabama coordinator, picked up a transfer from former Alabama lineman Brandon Kennedy. (C.B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP, File)

In the end, Brandon Kennedy got what he wanted.

It took an SEC rule change for it to happen, but Kennedy, a graduate transfer from Alabama, has decided to continue his playing career at Tennessee. Since he graduated from Alabama, Kennedy can play immediately in 2018 for the Vols. He has two years of eligibility remaining. first reported the news Thursday morning, capping off a saga that spanned the last two months.

How did we get here?

Kennedy, who graduated from Alabama in December, decided to transfer from the program after spring practice. He reportedly narrowed down his choices to two SEC schools, Auburn and Tennessee, but was not given permission to contact either school. In fact, Alabama blocked Kennedy from contacting all SEC schools (something that, as of Wednesday, is no longer allowed), as well as schools on the Tide’s future schedule.

Kennedy appealed the decision, but it was denied.

An SEC rule change opened the door for Kennedy to join the Vols

On June 1, the SEC formally changed its rule on graduate transfers within the conference. Moving forward, a player who wishes to graduate transfer from one SEC school to another — like Kennedy — can do so without interference from his original school.

With Kennedy and defensive back Maurice Smith in 2016, Alabama coach Nick Saban pointed to the conference rule to explain why he would not let them transfer to their preferred destination. With Smith, he was eventually granted his release by Alabama and given a league waiver to transfer to Georgia — but only after plenty of drama.

Because of the rule change, Kennedy did not need a waiver to make the move to Tennessee, who he selected over Auburn. In 2018, he will be able to go head-to-head with his former team when the Tide travels to Knoxville on Oct. 20.

What does Kennedy bring to Tennessee?

Kennedy redshirted his first year with the Tide in 2015, so he will have two years of eligibility remaining when he reports to Tennessee. Kennedy exited spring practice as the second-string center for the Crimson Tide. He appeared in seven games as a backup in 2016 and saw action in three more before going down with an injury in 2017.

At Tennessee, where former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is now the head coach, Kennedy has a chance to compete for a starting spot on the interior of the offensive line. At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, he can play either guard or center.

Kennedy was a four-star recruit in the 2015 class.

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