We're taking a look at the top seven offensive and defensive players on Tennessee's roster who made a leap this spring. Here are the two installments we've gone through so far:
Now, let's take a look at the offensive and defensive players who are No. 5 on the list.
OFFENSE -- JACOB CARTER RS SO. WIDE RECEIVER
If you haven't heard of Carter -- a walk-on wide receiver from Nashville and Ensworth HS -- don't worry. You're not alone. Nobody really knew much of "Snake" Carter until this spring when the Vols were woefully thin at wide receiver and the steady route-runner was able to make plays.
Though he isn't flashy [what walk-on is?] he was incredibly consistent, making plays in all scrimmage settings, every day at practice and in the Orange & White game. Was that a product of being one of the few available bodies or can Carter really help? Well, unless it's just lip service, Derek Dooley and Darin Hinshaw believe it may be the latter. It's possible that a guy like Carter can get swallowed up when UT welcomes a strong class this fall, but it's also good that a player who runs good routes, catches everything thrown his way and is a quality kid emerged that we didn't even know we had.
Is it disconcerting that Carter had a better spring than Zach Rogers and Vincent Dallas? Probably so. But it also doesn't mean that "Look how poor we are if Carter plays ..." either. Oklahoma trotted a starting running back out there some who was a former walk-on. Sometimes, you just get lucky with those guys. We'll probably never need Carter to be on the field a ton when we have Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers, Cordarrelle Patterson and others who we expect to be there for us. But Carter was a pleasant surprise this spring and could give consistent reps.
DEFENSE -- JORDAN WILLIAMS SO. JACK LINEBACKER
At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Williams is an imposing presence on defense, and while he showed some flashes at times in limited action as a true freshman, the light never seemed to come on. After a move from defensive end to Jack linebacker this spring, the Gainesville, Fla., native really caught on.
What transpired was new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri believing he potentially has an emerging star backing up incumbent starter Jacques Smith. Williams is long and disruptive and found himself in the backfield a lot this spring. He took the next step this spring to being in the rotation, and it appears he is in line for some snaps this fall if he can continue to progress. Blessed with the size and agility to play either on the line or on the second level, Jack is the perfect spot for him, and he was a natural move out there.
UT needs consistent pass-rushers -- something that has been sorely lacking recently. If Williams can build off this spring, he may be a steal right out from under the Florida Gators' noses much the same way Curt Maggitt is becoming.