Tennessee heads into the 2018 season with a ton of questions. One position that seems to be somewhat settled, however, is the receiving corps. The Vols return at least ten receivers that caught a pass in 2017 - a number that should include leading receiver Jauan Jennings.
Jennings and Marquez Callaway will be a great one-two punch. Jennings’ physicality combined with Callaway’s playmaking ability is a great start for a receiving corps that will have just two seniors on the roster (D.J. Henderson and Malik Elion, who are both reserve players).
Who will pick up the slack behind them? Brandon Johnson came on strong last season to tie with former running back John Kelly for the team lead in receptions, but there isn’t much production Jennings, Callaway, and Johnson.
Callaway had his breakout season last year and we all know about Jennings. Johnson is a good candidate to breakout, but unfortunately for him, I think someone else is going to take that spotlight from him this season.
After watching the Spring Game, it was pretty evident that both sophomore Jarrett Guarantano and Josh Palmer have found a connection during the offseason. Palmer led the team with 77 receiving yards and was Guarantano’s go-to guy during much of the day.
A terrible 2017 season allowed Palmer to start six games and he improved as the season went on. Even though he wasn’t used very often, he still managed to catch a pass in five straight games and eight total games.
The only real look that we’ve received of Tyson Helton’s offense was during the Spring Game and to many of our surprise, it looked very much improved. The line blocked well, the receivers made plays, the backs found tons of running room, and Guarantano looked steady.
If the offense continues on this upward trajectory, then that would allow Palmer to get on the field even more. By combining that and his relationship with Guarantano, I think this puts him on the path to be a breakout player this year.
The former three-star recruit out of Florida is tall, lanky, player that runs good routes with enough speed to create space. He has very good hands and can win 50/50 balls from time to time.
Guarantano will have plenty of weapons to throw to this season, but look for Palmer to find his way onto the field and help elevate the receiving corp to another level.