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Tennessee’s Most Important Players for 2018: #6 Marquez Callaway

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Tennessee has a star in the making waiting to break out on the perimeter in 2018.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Marquez Callaway continues our countdown of the most important players for the Vols in 2018. Check out the rest here.

Marquez Callaway is really good at football. Unfortunately for Tennessee last season, he was severely underutilized, as was a theme with certain other offensive weapons under Butch Jones — we miss you, Alvin.

Callaway’s 2017 stats don’t look like anything spectacular to someone who didn’t see him play. He caught just 24 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns. You had to see him make plays like these to understand just how good the rising junior wideout can be.

Callaway had several times last season where he was in one-on-one situations and just snagged the ball at its highest point with a defender draped on him. His ball skills are NFL-caliber and he figures to get even more single coverage opportunities if the Vols are able to run the ball the way Tyson Helton wants to in his more pro style offense.

Even with Jauan Jennings coming back, Callaway needs to be Tennessee’s most targeted receiver this season. If he’s in single coverage on the outside, throw the ball up and I’ll take my chances with No. 1.

Callaway having just 24 receptions in 2017 is borderline criminal for someone whose talents were on obvious display from the season opener against Georgia Tech, in which his four catches totaled 115 yards and two touchdowns. It’s just one of a plethora of reasons Tennessee brings in a new coaching staff in 2018.

Tennessee needs Callaway to be more of a threat this season, because the Vols’ offense scored just 19.8 points per game last season — ranking an abysmal 119 out of 130 FBS teams. If Tennessee can scrap together any sort of an offensive line around Trey Smith, the skill positions seem to have some bright spots with the likes of Callaway, Jennings and Ty Chandler.

Marquez Callaway should have at least 75 targets this season. And if what we’ve seen so far is any indication, that could be enough to put up some pretty big numbers and boost Tennessee’s offense in 2018.