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Tennessee Passing Game, Tight Ends Look Good in Orange & White Game

Will the Vols get the tight ends more involved in 2016?

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Josh Malone, Josh Smith, and Jauan Jennings did not suit up for Tennessee's annual spring game, those three out due to various ailments and representing 90.6% of the Vols' returning receptions at wide receiver. The other 9.4% belong to Preston Williams, who followed up a strong spring with three catches for 77 yards in the Orange & White Game.

Williams was one of just three scholarship receivers available today, and one of them was junior college transfer Jeff George. We can't read too much into a spring game and especially one where George may have been on the field because he had a pulse as much as anything else. But he looked good on the goal line, his 6'6" frame painting a nice picture for Josh Dobbs and the Vol passing game.

You got what you wanted from the receivers available, but we're unsure where they'll fall on the depth chart when Josh, Josh, and Jauan return. But the Vols did have a full deck at tight end today, and Dobbs was especially fond of the big guys.

Ethan Wolf had the day's biggest play right down the middle of the field. It looked an awful lot like this play to Alex Ellis in the Outback Bowl. He finished with 67 yards on three catches. Tight end convert Jason Croom had an early drop leading to an interception, but added a 22-yard grab later.

Last season Ethan Wolf led the Vols in yards per target for players catching more than 10 passes. He pulled down 23 balls on 32 targets, a 71.9% catch rate which led all non-RB Vols. But he was only targeted 9% of the time, plus another 5.3% for Alex Ellis. (Check out the Vols' full advanced statistical profile here)

Will the Vols go to the tight end more than 15% of the time this fall? Croom is a story to watch; his ability to block in the run game will dictate much of his opportunity this fall. But Wolf is already a proven option for Dobbs, and could be a bigger part of Tennessee's offense this fall. It'll be interesting to see how that option develops on a team already loaded in the run game and looking for consistency at wide receiver.