DRAE BOWLES. 6-0, 202 WR JACKSON, TENN. FOUR STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
The former US Army All-American was redshirted this past season, and that was a blessing and a luxury. Thanks to great wide receiver depth, UT will be able to use Bowles' talents for four more season if he exhausts his eligibility. Bowles is blessed with good hands and great physicality, but he was a little rusty on route running coming out of a high school team that rarely threw when he was a senior. He will help a lot, probably in the slot and probably this season.
GEORGE BULLOCK 6-0, 198 PK KNOXVILLE, TENN. TWO STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
Bullock is a kickoff specialist who was fairly inconsistent in high school but who appeared to be making strides and impressing coaches prior to breaking a leg in preseason camp. He returned to practice late in the season and will be full-strength when spring drills start. UT desperately needs somebody to step up and apply pressure competition to Michael Palardy, and Bullock is probably the best to do that. He has the opportunity to be UT's everyday kicker down the road.
NATHAN PETERMAN 6-2, 226 QB FRUIT COVE, FLA. THREE STARS ON 247, FOUR STARS ON RIVALS
It has been a while since Tennessee fans were as excited as we are about the future prospects of a quarterback. Peterman has the ideal combination of physicality, running ability and arm strength. He wasn't ready to compete last season, needing a year to learn the system, but everybody is eager to see him in a wide-open competition this spring with junior Justin Worley. Butch Jones recruited Peterman to Cincinnati before he blew up in the recruiting world, so you'd think Peterman will have every opportunity to win the job. It will be interesting to see if he can do it or if Worley's experience wins the day.
JASON CROOM 6-5, 232 WR/TE NORCROSS, GA. FOUR STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
Considered a recruiting coup at the time, Croom spent his freshman season without a position. He seemed to earn some playing time in the fall, but Dooley didn't waste a year on him for mop-up duty. Then, Croom tweeted later in the season that he was redshirting and looking to bulk up to play tight end. When Jones' first roster was released, Croom was back to wide receiver, where it looks like he will stay. He will need to contribute immediately and has the size and physicality to do that.
KENNY BYNUM 6-1, 246 LB JACKSONVILLE, FLA. THREE STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
Funny how things work out sometimes. Bynum was all set to go to Cincinnati and sign with Butch Jones and the Vols were set to sign linebackers Dalton Santos and Otha Peters two weeks before National Signing Day last year. Then, Santos was offered by Texas and committed to the 'Horns. Then, Peters was wooed by Arkansas late. The Vols extended an offer to Bynum, who waited until after signing day and eventually signed with UT. Bynum was slated for immediate playing time before suffering a preseason knee injury and will be 100% in the spring. He is desperately needed right away and is expected to contribute.
JUSTIN MEREDITH 6-5, 223 TE ANDERSON, S.C. THREE STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
Is Meredith a kid with chronic hamstring issues or just bad luck the past two years? That is the question Vols fans are asking right now. He had an issue that kept him sidelined for more than a year, but is reportedly now full-strength and ready to compete. That is a good thing for UT at yet another position of need. Jones went out and signed JUCO TE Woody Quinn and has Brendan Downs returning, but Meredith is firmly in the rotation by default. Hopefully, he will be the player Dooley thought he was when he recruited him. Maybe Meredith is out to prove to everyone that the hamstring ordeal was just a fluky thing.
DANNY O'BRIEN 6-2, 304 DT FLINT, MICH. FOUR STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
One of the most celebrated Tennessee recruits in years didn't see the field as a freshman and used that season to bulk up in the weight room. Now, he seems destined to crack the rotation as a redshirt sophomore. O'Brien is athletic enough to rush the passer but has actually proven that he's a good run-stopper as well -- or at least he did on the high school level. The SEC is a different animal altogether, but it's rare you see defensive tackles ready to come in and play right away. O'Brien loves Tennessee, and he seems to have the heart and desire to be a great one. We may get to see our first glimpses of him this season.
ALDEN HILL 6-2, 217 RB ALLIANCE, OHIO THREE STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
Hill was one of those camp kids who wowed the former coaching staff and left with an offer that he nearly immediately took. Still, we don't know a whole lot about him or his ability. He got mononucleosis after being a mid-term enrollee last season and didn't get to participate fully in spring drills. Then, we didn't hear his name a single time when the rest of the players got to campus last fall. Obviously, the illness probably took its toll on him. He lost a good bit of weight and didn't get to work out for an extended amount of time. So, now he will return to a wide-open competition. Can he take advantage of it? Is he eventually slated for fullback?
TINO THOMAS 6-0, 200 DB MEMPHIS, TENN THREE STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
Thomas grayshirted two years ago and redshirted last year, so he's been anticipating getting in the mix for some time now. Blessed with some of the best straight-line speed on the team, Thomas hasn't yet proven that he belongs anywhere on the field. If you couldn't crack the rotation in last year's secondary, you obviously aren't ready for prime time. Still, Thomas is a hard worker and he's probably going to get the opportunity to fit in somewhere with the new staff. It will be interesting to see if that's at safety, cornerback -- or somewhere with the ball in his hands.
LATROY LEWIS 6-4, 238 LB AKRON, OHIO THREE STARS ON RIVALS AND 247
A great athlete who chose Tennessee over Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame, Lewis suffered a preseason injury and didn't play as a freshman when he was slated to play a lot and possibly even start for a UT team looking for difference-makers at linebacker. Though he's a bit of a tweener, Lewis -- who was being recruited to play defensive end in a 4-3 -- is still listed as a linebacker for Jones. If he's fast enough to play there, having an athlete like Lewis on the outside will be a huge benefit for Tennessee. The issue is rust right now, since he has basically missed the past two seasons with injury.
HERE ARE THE FIRST TWO PARTS OF THE FEATURE