We again pull from ESPN.com's Chris Low, who yesterday named the most irreplaceable player for each SEC team. Low named sophomore DT Montori Hughes as the one guy the Vols can't afford to lose; while Hughes may not be the best player on the team, he is the only defensive tackle on the roster with any significant experience.
Here are some other candidates for Tennessee's most irreplaceable player:
(Note: we didn't include either quarterback because we haven't seen them, but obviously the Vols are thin at that position with the departure of Nick Stephens. Likewise, we didn't include Tauren Poole because of the ongoing Bryce Brown situation, and because we really haven't seen Poole much either.)
TE Luke Stocker - You usually wouldn't consider a tight end to be among a team's most irreplaceable players, especially when that tight end plays at Tennessee. But Stocker is the Vols' best (only?) offensive prospect for the 2011 NFL Draft, must be accounted for in the passing game, and as Dooley's system favors tight ends over fullbacks, could become even more important in this administration. He was second on the team last year with five TD catches, and given the state of our offensive line, he'll need to be physical and block well too. An already limited Tennessee offense would lose a key option if Stocker went down.
DE Chris Walker - Mr. Unblockable is Tennessee's best defensive lineman, and one of the few players on this team that can change a game all by themselves. Last year Walker had 4 sacks, 6.5 TFLs, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble and 1 TD. Would Tennessee have any sort of effective pass rush without him?
FS Janzen Jackson - Not only is JJ the player who appears to have the greatest potential of any current Vol, but if you took him away, a secondary of Art Evans, Darren Myles, Eric Gordon and a player to be named later isn't making anyone think twice about throwing deep on us. It's unfair to make Eric Berry comparisons, but Jackson's freshman year was a very good start.