I choose not to name the team numerically as that strategy has not played out so well. That goes for the smoky grey unis also……anytime a uniform change becomes the center of focus----a team is in trouble or sliding down a slippery slope.
Grading is considered relative to all teams in the SEC.
Disclaimer: Not sure the Vols really had an OC last season: Ratings are NOT designed to impugn any specific player.
QB: Grade D+
· JG since he has yet to have a game that gives fans confidence that he is in control. The fact that he is part of the disturbing player equation with WR J Jennings is also a deterrent in my opinion. However a coaching change may be good medicine? He apparently has talent and hopefully matured with confidence over the year. It is HIS team.
· McBride fits in the Q Dormady role of "he might be better (hope) than we expect?" Not sure he is but he may like the challenge?
· Freshman JT Shrout does not enroll until fall giving him little time to acclimate and thus depth is an immediate issue at this position.
· I understand the Vols are still pursing QB options in the "open market" which to me sounds challenging.
RB: Grade C+
· This could be the gem in the offense with 2 players that have accumulated decent touches though returning stats are not eye popping.
· Kelly’s departure is not that significant to me. (I never liked the "tiger mouth guard") He would provide depth and experience but I really think that is not big issue with this team. I did not say we are talented….just that we have some bodies. Chandler should be the man.
· Fils-aime showed more than expected last year and Chandler proved he could compete at least with his speed.
· Not sure we have anything close to a dominant player but I expect this position to be more productive given Jordan and Coleman are also experienced in some fashion. Wish there was a big downhill runner in the mix.
· Callaway is the key to this group and is SEC worthy though he simply went away at times last year. Brandon Johnson is a solid possession receiver. Tyler Byrd moves to CB.
· After these guys it is a question. 2018 freshman Alonte Taylor could be a special edition.
· Josh Palmer is the best of the rest (and only the rest) based on last year but that relates only to 9 receptions with 98 yards and no TD’s… not big numbers though he will be just a sophomore.
· The other newcomer, C Tillman from Las Vegas is billed a steal in the recruiting process but often that is just another word for "not ready for SEC, yet".
· Not grading this positon simply because I don’t know how this staff will utilize it. Additionally each player could grade out as just a lineman or just a receiver or both.
· New comer, Wood-Anderson is certainly an interesting player that brings size, experience and apparent athletic ability to the positon. Could he become the mismatch the Vols have been looking for?
· Depth is not an issue at least not on paper as TE seems to be where players go when they aren’t sure where else they can play.
· Warren, the newcomer from Farragut in Knoxville is already enrolled which might give him a chance to help this fall? He stands 6-6.
· When is the last time this group was not a question mark if not at the start of the season then later in the season?
· My grade should be a travesty given that 2 returning starters are 5 star products. One has performed significantly better than the other, however.
· Injuries have decimated this group on a regular basis and the Vols lost two starters to graduation from last season which leaves three positions open, one being center. Jack Jones once a hopeful producer has been forced to quit due to injuries as I understand.
· C Hall has been solid when he has been healthy to play. He did not play last year and was available for only 6 games in 2016. He is listed as a true senior as of this post but one has to wonder about his future.
· The "good" news…almost everyone listed on the roster at OL has played at some point. Two newcomers to this class are enrolled and will go thru spring practice. Some are very high on the JC signee but the last highly recruited JC OT never played a down.
DEFENSE: Another post.