In this edition of our Tennessee positional preview, we’ll tackle the receivers — everyone’s favorite position. Tennessee is ushering in a new receivers coach after Zach Azzanni bolted for the Chicago Bears. Kevin Beard will take over that role with his work cut out for him. There’s plenty of talent on the depth chart, but plenty of inexperience and unknown as well.
One thing that we do know is that Jauan Jennings will carry the flag for the Tennessee pass catchers. He shared the spotlight with Josh Malone last year, but will be a true number one option in 2017. Jennings is a legitimate NFL prospect, with scouts likely loving his attacking mentality and 50-50 ball ability.
Outside of Jennings and Josh Smith, Tennessee is lacking experience at the receiver position. Tyler Byrd and Marquez Callaway figure to be next in line, but neither have too much experience within the offense. Byrd got some run last year, but wasn’t really a factor within the structured passing offense.
That offense, of course, could be new in theory with Larry Scott taking over for Mike DeBord. I wouldn't expect too many changes, but Scott has already said that he may go under center more than the Vols did last season. That could be directly tied to a quarterback change.
Personally, I think we could see a bump in productivity out of the receivers this season because of the quarterback change alone. Josh Dobbs was great in spots, but he was pretty inconsistent too. I felt like the passing attack was limited at times (some of this can be traced back to the offensive line, too). We really don’t know what Tennessee has in Jarrett Guarantano or Quinten Dormady, but if the Orange and White game was any indication, Dormady is ready to step up this season.
In the spring game, it was Jennings and Ethan Wolf as the beneficiaries. Both had three catches a piece with Jennings scoring on a nice back shoulder fade. I went into Ethan Wolf more here in the tight end preview.
Behind that top four is anyone’s guess, really. Brandon Johnson, Jeff George and Latrell Williams could all push for playing time in camp. I don’t think we can rule out a newcomer making an impact either. Josh Palmer, Princeton Fant, Jacquez Jones and Jordan Murphy could each emerge with uncertainty outside of the top four spots.
Here’s my best guess at the rotation.