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With Jauan Jennings suspended for the first half of Gator Bowl, Ramel Keyton has a chance to shine

A silver lining?

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

While the Gator Bowl will give us final looks at Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway as seniors, it will also give us a chance to look ahead to the future. This is made possible by Jauan Jennings’ suspension for the first half of the Gator Bowl, which was handed down by the SEC office following the Vanderbilt game.

Jennings drove a Vanderbilt player out of bounds to the ground, then unintentionally (at least it appeared to be) stepped on his head on the sidelines. For that, he’ll miss two quarters of action against Indiana. While we all want to see Jauan go nuts in his final game as a Vol, it leaves some snaps on the table for younger players.

Filling in for him will likely be Ramel Keyton, alongside of Josh Palmer and Callaway. Keyton, a true freshman, hasn’t been able to make a big impact in the offense this year, simply because of what has been in front of him. But at least for a half, he should get his chance to shine against a beatable Indiana defense.

Keyton signed with Tennessee as a part of the 2019 class, picking the Vols over Auburn. The 6-2, 189 pound receiver was a four-star prospect, sitting just outside of the top 100 players, according to 247Sports. At this time last year, Keyton was still catching passes in high school with Tennessee quarterback signee Harrison Bailey. On January 2nd, he’ll be playing in Tennessee’s first bowl appearance since 2016.

Keyton has just two receptions on the year. His biggest impact came on a 41 yard catch down the sidelines against Mississippi State. In high school, Keyton hauled in over 3,300 yards worth of passes, including a 16 touchdown season as a junior.

Tennessee’s passing attack really popped down the stretch as Jarrett Guarantano settled back into the starting role. The Volunteers saw three receivers go over 100 yards against Missouri. Another big day was had against South Carolina. It will be interesting to see this group go to work without Jennings, however.

In 2020, Keyton will slide into a prominent role in the Tennessee offense. Josh Palmer should be back, along with senior Brandon Johnson. But Keyton will have a chance to be a starter in the offense, filling some big shoes in the process.

The first half of the Gator Bowl might just be a little bit of a 2020 preview.