Our look at the Tennessee offense continues today with the tight end position. It’s a spot that could see an uptick with new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney in the building. It’s another spot that got a bit of a talent infusion over the offseason, mainly with the signing of four-star prospects Jacob Lowe.
Tennessee saw veteran Eli Wolf transfer to Georgia, leaving some snaps to fill in 2019. 2018 starter Dominick Wood-Anderson returns, but how will the rest of the position shake out? Let’s take a look.
Starter: Dominick Wood-Anderson
Dominick Wood-Anderson marked Jeremy Pruitt’s first real recruiting win over his former boss Nick Saban. 2018’s No. 1 ranked JUCO tight end came in as the immediate starter last season, but really didn’t make the impact that he was expected to make. It’s tough to pin all of that on DWA, though.
The Tennessee offense was dreadful once again in 2018. They struggled to do the simplest of things, mostly due to a struggling offensive line. The rushing attack was inconsistent, while Jarrett Guarantano and the passing attack never got consistent protection. For that reason, it’s difficult to evaluate certain pieces of the offense fairly.
Now with Jim Chaney and a more talented, albeit young offensive line, Tennessee has a shot to at least head in the right direction. Dominick Wood-Anderson should be a decently sized part of that equation in 2019.
With Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway and Josh Palmer on the outside, Wood-Anderson could see less attention in the middle of the field. Tyson Helton’s offense didn’t call for much usage of the tight end, but Chaney’s offense at Georgia saw Isaac Nauta catch 30 passes for 471 yards and three scores.
Maybe that’s a good sign for Wood-Anderson, who managed just 17 catches for 140 yards under Helton in 2018.
Best of the rest: Jackson Lowe and Austin Pope
Pope will likely see the field again in a couple of different ways. He actually spent some time at fullback last season, playing as a redshirt sophomore. The 6-4, 235 pound tight end is now perhaps the most experienced player Tennessee has at the position.
I think the wildcard here is Jackson Lowe, who signed with Tennessee as a four-star prospect in the 2019 class. Lowe picked the Vols over Clemson and Alabama. Would it be a shock to see him enter the season as the team’s No. 2 tight end option? Probably not.
Lowe’s 6-4, 250 pound frame is already where it needs to be to hold up in every aspect of the offense. He made a big play down the sideline in the Orange and White Game, before being caught from behind and fumbling. Despite that hiccup, Lowe appeared more than ready to compete for time in the passing attack.
Depth: Jacob Warren, Princeton Fant, Sean Brown
Princeton Fant has bounced from receiver to tight end to running back, and now, back to tight end. We still don’t know exactly what Tennessee has in Fant, other than a big 6-2, 230 pound frame.
Jacob Warren is an intriguing piece coming off of a redshirt year in 2018. Armed with a 6-6 frame, Warren could eventually turn into a redzone threat. He scored 17 touchdowns in his final two seasons of high school ball. Warren is probably a year out from competing for playing time, but he become an interesting depth player if someone were to go down.
Finally, three-star tight end Sean Brown is entering his first season with Tennessee after choosing the Vols over Auburn. He’s another guy with great size at 6-5, 240 pounds. Brown could be in for a redshirt season, considering what’s in front of him on the roster.
Check out our other positional breakdowns below!