There are plenty of young players on this Tennessee team who could challenge for school records, both this season and before their time is up in Knoxville. Last year both Curt Maggitt (11) and Derek Barnett (10) put their name in the top ten on the single season sack list, currently owned by Reggie White (15). Josh Dobbs already owns the record for rushing yards by a Tennessee quarterback in a single game. I'm also particularly interested in the more obscure records, things that have seldom or never happened in school history. An early favorite for 2015: only once in school history have the Vols had three players rush for more than 100 yards in the same game (James Stewart, Aaron Hayden, and Mose Phillips against Vanderbilt in 1991). I think you might see that one get a run for its money with Dobbs, Jalen Hurd, and Alvin Kamara.
The up and comers are lots of fun to project, but there are also three upperclassmen who are quietly moving their way up the career leaderboards, including a player who is on pace to top one by the end of his junior season. Here are three career records that could be challenged or taken by three different Vols this year.
Pig Howard - Career Receptions
When you think of Wide Receiver U, the diminutive deuce isn't the first name that comes to mind. But Howard has been Tennessee's most consistent target the last two years, due at least in part to being Tennessee's healthiest target. He enters 2015 14th on UT's all-time receptions list with 109. He would need 75 catches to get the record, an effort that would fall one short of the single-season record for receptions (Marcus Nash, 1997). But Howard has averaged roughly four catches per game the last two years, and 4.7 catches per game when Josh Dobbs was in the lineup. If he continues at that pace this fall, he would finish third all-time at UT. He would still trail Manning-era targets Joey Kent and Marcus Nash, but with 51 catches this fall he would pass Cedrick Wilson for third place, and along the way vault names like Peerless Price, Robert Meachem, Tim McGee, and Larry Seivers. Not bad for a kid who was almost left off the team for good one off-season ago.
Curt Maggitt - Career Tackles for Loss
The Vol senior has 25.5 TFLs in his career, including 15 last fall. The top of this list is fairly unattainable: the duo of Leonard Little (53 TFLs) and Reggie White (51) separate themselves in most categories involving pressure on the quarterback. But if Maggitt gets 15 again this year, he'll pass Eric Westmoreland and finish third all-time. Watch out for Derek Barnett here this time next year: his 20.5 TFLs were seventh nationally last fall and fifth-best in school history. Two more years like that, and he'll write his name with or maybe even above Little and White in Knoxville.
Cameron Sutton - Career Passes Defended
The passes defended stat is interceptions + passes broken up. Tennessee's record book is lofty in the interception department; Eric Berry and Deon Grant both finished with 14 in their three year careers, still four shy of Tim Priest's career record. Sutton, believe it or not, has only five interceptions so far in his career. But where he really shows up is in passes defended: those five picks go with 18 PBU's in his first two years, leaving him 12th on Tennessee's passes defended list after just two years. Last year Sutton's 16 passes defended were good for 14th nationally and third best in the SEC. Even if he turns pro after this season and even if teams are shy about throwing his way, if he stays healthy he should get this record: Sutton needs just 13 defended passes to pass Jabari Greer for the top spot. Most of UT's top ten is populated by four year players, but Sutton could pass both Grant (28) and Berry (31) among three year players this fall. This would be more evidence in Sutton's corner, despite UT's overall record the last two years, as one of the best defensive backs to ever play at Tennessee.