With Alvin Kamara, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Cameron Sutton all back in the fold, we take a look at how the depth chart should shake out for Team 120. One of the best things about this: we don't have to wait for signing day to fill in any important gaps with true freshmen.
With nine starters back on offense and eight on defense, it's pretty easy to fill this thing out. Returning starters in big, beautiful bold.
|QB||Josh Dobbs||SR||Quinten Dormady||SO|
|RB||Jalen Hurd||JR||Alvin Kamara||JR|
|WR||Josh Malone||JR||Preston Williams||SO|
|WR||Josh Smith||JR||Jeff George||JR|
|WR||Jauan Jennings||SO||Cody Blanc||SR|
|TE||Ethan Wolf||JR||Jason Croom||SR|
|LT||Drew Richmond||RFR||Dontavius Blair||SR|
|LG||Jashon Robertson||JR||Venzell Boulware||RFR|
|C||Coleman Thomas||JR||Ray Raulerson||SO|
|RG||Dylan Wiesman||SR||Jack Jones||SO|
|RT||Brett Kendrick||JR||Chance Hall||SO|
|DE||Derek Barnett||JR||Kyle Phillips||SO|
|DT||Kahlil McKenzie||SO||Shy Tuttle||SO|
|DT||Kendal Vickers||JR||Danny O'Brien||JR|
|DE||Corey Vereen||SR||LaTroy Lewis||SR|
|LB||Jalen Reeves-Maybin||SR||Austin Smith||SO|
|LB||Darrin Kirkland Jr.||SO||Colton Jumper||SO|
|CB||Cameron Sutton||SR||Emmanuel Moseley||JR|
|CB||Justin Martin||JR||Darrell Miller||SO|
|NB||Rashaan Gaulden||SO||Malik Foreman||SR|
|FS||Evan Berry||JR||Micah Abernathy||SO|
|SS||Todd Kelly Jr.||JR||Stephen Griffin||SO|
Man, that looks good. And the Vols bring back both specialists and the national leaders in kick and punt returns. Word.
The biggest questions left in this thing:
- Will there be any separation at wide receiver this time? Tennessee's slot receiver has led the team in receptions the last three years, but Pig Howard and Von Pearson are both gone. Jauan Jennings may not be able to avoid the safety question below, but if he returns to the offensive side of the ball can he improve on his 14 catches for 149 yards? 6'6" junior college transfer Jeff George will be here in the spring and could establish himself early. The two Joshes came on stronger later in the year; can they hold down the starting roles and be effective on a championship level for this team?
- Who is the number two tight end and can this team go heavy in short yardage situations? Jason Croom has been moved over to tight end, Joe Stocstill is still around, Jakob Johnson and Neiko Creamer are there, Eli Wolf redshirted last year. But there's no definitive answer behind Ethan Wolf. The Vols showed some under center looks in the Outback Bowl and certainly have the back to make short yardage work, but it'll be interesting to see if Tennessee tries to develop anything there.
- How will Chance Hall, Jack Jones, and Drew Richmond progress? I've got the veterans penciled in as starters on the right side of the offensive line in Wiesman and Kendrick. But with their freshman seasons under their belt, it will be interesting to see if the highly-touted Hall and Jones can crack the starting lineup; either way I think all four of those guys will play on that side of the line. The biggest question for the offense is what happens at left tackle with Kyler Kerbyson's graduation. Drew Richmond was redshirted this fall but there is a very real sense the job is his to lose coming into spring practice. The Vols could certainly also try moving Hall or Kendrick over to that side, but Richmond blooming seems to be the most hopeful scenario.
- What kind of quality will we get at safety? The biggest question on paper for Team 120 after losing Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil to graduation. Todd Kelly Jr. has plenty of meaningful experience back there, but less so for Evan Berry. Tennessee has a lot of talent coming into the secondary in February, but both early enrollees (Marquill Osborne and Desmond Henderson) are expected to play corner. The Vols have plenty of athleticism back there, but will need Berry and Kelly to be steadier as they go.