The three athletes who will be representing the Tennessee Volunteers at SEC Media Days were announced on Monday afternoon, and the three players came as no surprise. Junior quarterback Joshua Dobbs, redshirt senior defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt, and junior cornerback Cam Sutton will join head coach Butch Jones in Birmingham, Alabama.
There was some talk about who aside from Dobbs and Maggitt would go down to Birmingham, and Sutton, sophomore running back Jalen Hurd, and redshirt senior safety Brian Randolph were three of the top candidates being debated for the third spot. The selection of Dobbs, Maggitt, and Sutton speaks to what type of team the 2015 Vols look to be in terms of leadership and experience.
Maggitt is the only senior in the trio, and he is only one of 18 seniors on Tennessee's roster. Sutton has started every game since he was a freshman and could (and most likely will) declare for the NFL draft a year early after this season as a junior, but Dobbs has yet to start even half a season for the Vols. There is an experience void at Tennessee, but the three players selected to go down to the SEC Media Days are easily the leaders of this team.
Tennessee's roster includes at least 56 players who are redshirt sophomores or younger, and many of those players, such as sophomores Derek Barnett, Jalen Hurd, and Jashon Robertson, will have to play major roles in 2015. Youth abounds for the Vols this season, and while that youth may be very talented, they still need experienced leadership to guide them through the rigors of an SEC schedule.
Maggitt, Dobbs, and Sutton have combined to make 61 starts in their Tennessee careers. Maggitt is the heart and soul of the defense, providing the most vocal leadership on the team with his passionate play and animated demeanor both on and off the field. Sutton has been one of the most consistent and reliable defensive players for the Vols since 2013 and will likely be yet another NFL draft pick the Vols can tout to the national media. And Dobbs, although still lacking a wealth of experience, is the unquestioned leader of the offense and goes into 2015 as the team's starting quarterback.
Head coach Butch Jones and his staff have hauled in massive recruiting classes since taking over in 2013 in order to overhaul the roster as quickly as possible. After a 32-man 2014 class and a 30-man 2015 class, the bulk of the roster consists of younger players. Dobbs will have an inexperienced backfield providing support, and his receiving corps is young beyond the starters. Even the offensive line is young. And while these players are certainly talented, Dobbs will need to provide plenty of guidance to the offense as a junior this year.
The linebackers and defensive line will have plenty of youth on them as well, making Maggitt's job just as important on defense. And while Sutton isn't the only experienced defensive back on the roster, he is the most talented and most noticeable one, and the cornerback spot specifically will have plenty of young faces behind him.
The three players chosen to represent the Vols for SEC Media Days were the obvious ones when you consider the lack of experience otherwise present on the team and the overall talent of the three individuals. All three are in critical areas of the offense and defense, and their leadership will be imperative on a young team this season.