One surprise participant for Tennessee at SEC Media Days was Marquez Callaway, a player who quite honestly wasn’t a huge part of the offense in 2017. The junior receiver joined Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt in Atlanta, who had tons of positive things to say about his potential star receiver.
“I think if you’re gonna be good on offense, you better have guys that are hard to guard on the perimeter,” Pruitt said. “Either they can take the top off, or they’re big power forward guys. I know that puts pressure on defenses as a defensive coordinator. If you don’t have guys that can win outside, it makes it easy to call the game. I think Marquez gives us that element as a guy who can play with speed or power. We’re excited about seeing what he can do this fall.”
As a sophomore last year, Callaway exploded onto the scene against Georgia Tech after an injury to Jauan Jennings. The 6-3 receiver put the Vols’ offense on his back at times during that game, making contested grabs and sparking the comeback win. After that, we didn’t hear much from him during the rest of 2017. He ended the season with just 24 catches for 405 yards and five touchdowns.
Callaway was asked about his small role in the offense last year and why he wasn’t more involved. “I can’t really explain,” Callaway said. “That has nothing to do with me. All I can do is go out there and hope for the best.”
The change in staff meant another new position coach for Callaway, who is now learning from David Johnson. Johnson comes from Memphis and is taking a bit of a lighter approach, according to Callaway. “Coach really brings a lot of fun into it. That makes it more fun when he’s having fun too. He’s bringing in a lot more knowledge that we didn’t have before.”
Callaway has gone from seemingly forgotten about in the offense, to repping the Vols at SEC Media Days. That’s a pretty big step for him and perhaps a hint at more usage in 2018.
With Callaway in place and Jauan Jennings set to return, the receiving group just might be the strongest group on the entire roster.