Fall camp opened on Tuesday, offering the first official glimpse of Team 119 in action since the Orange & White Game. And this is the full squad, newcomers and all, as the Vols make themselves ready for the season opener in just 31 days.
It's still a slow burn: the Vols won't put pads on for a few days, the open practice is 10 days away, and those tasty and as-reliable-as-your-mind-makes-them fall scrimmage stats will trickle slowly down the pipe. For now, all we have is the old, "Who looked good out there?" And we will be especially interested in the new answers.
The leaders in coaches' chatter are sometimes right on the money. In August 2011 we started hearing about these guys A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt. They would end up finishing second and third on the team in tackles that fall. The next year it was junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson, who accounted for 163 yards of total offense in the season opener to begin a one-and-done campaign.
Last year Tennessee had so many interesting freshmen it was hard for one to stand out in early camp chatter. The Vols have just as many interesting freshmen this year. But for more than a year now, one of them has clearly stood out.
Kahlil McKenzie is, on paper, Tennessee's most highly-touted incoming freshman since Bryce Brown. The big defensive tackle was a consensus five star and finished as the sixth highest rated recruit in the nation in the 247 Composite. That's the highest rated player the Vols have signed since Brown finished second in the composite in 2009. By comparison, here are Tennessee's highest rated recruits in the last five years:
- 2014: Josh Malone (36)
- 2013: Marquez North (90)
- 2012: LaDarrell McNeil (91)
- 2011: DeAnthony Arnett (40)
- 2010: Da'Rick Rogers (11)