9. DEANTHONY ARNETT, 5-11, 175 WR SAGINAW, MI. [SAGINAW HS]
Ratings: Rivals 4* No. 12 wide receiver No. 84 overall prospect, Scout 4* No. 8 wide receiver, ESPN 4* No. 9 wide receiver No. 57 overall prospect, 247 4*. Chose UT over Michigan, Michigan State, Southern Cal, Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, UCLA, Wisconsin.
Looking back: Arnett had one of the most prolific freshman seasons in UT history, amassing 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He played in all 12 games, starting one, and finishing tied for second for most receptions by a freshman in UT history. He finished third on the team in catches and fifth in receiving yards. Though he doesn't have elite speed, Arnett showed proficiency running routes and flashed above average hands. He was a very highly rated prospect that everybody in the nation wanted and has a very bright future. His breakout game came against Florida where, after Justin Hunter went down with an injury, he had eight catches for 59 yards.
Looking forward: It became official yesterday that Arnett would seek a release from UT and take his talents elsewhere to be closer to his ailing father in Michigan. This is a big blow for the Vols, who simply cannot keep trading experienced players for high school hopefuls. This appears to be a situation that blows all the way around ... for UT and for Arnett. But there have been whispers of Arnett's homesickness since the middle of the season. Also, he was very close to Charlie Baggett, who is no longer on UT's coaching staff. I believe Arnett will wind up at Michigan State -- the MSU 247 Sports site broke the news, and it has been rumored Arnett has contacted Sparty's coaches. I also think he'll have a very nice career there. Again, this is a bummer. With the possibility that Matt Milton will either transfer or not amount to much on the field, that makes this year's receiver commitments extra important.
Final projection: This is probably going to come off as sour grapes, and it shouldn't because I love the kid. I think Arnett is going to have a nice career, but I do think he was a smidge overrated coming out of high school. He does not have elite speed. He's not even overly quick. He is the typical slot receiver whose ceiling may be something like Gerald Jones. That's tough to replace because he was going to be experienced and get even more dependable. But was he one of the nation's top 10 receivers coming out of high school last year? I'm not sure. I think he is going to have a great career somewhere, and I wish that somewhere was Knoxville. It will hurt us in the short run if Hunter isn't 100 percent and if Da'Rick can't get his head straight, but mostly, it will hurt us when those guys leave. Still, he isn't irreplaceable. It just stinks we're even having this conversation.