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Tennessee’s most important players of 2019: No. 8 — Marquez Callaway

Tennessee’s best receiver is up next.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Make no joke about it, Marquez Callaway is a household name among Tennessee fans since the 2017 matchup against Georgia Tech.

The true senior is the team’s best receiver. From bubble screens, slant patterns, fly routes, and jump balls - the kid can do just about everything asked of him.

Which is exactly why he comes in at eighth on our top ten countdown.

Sure, the Vols have plenty of depth at receiver. Players such as Josh Palmer, Jordan Murphy, and Jauan Jennings - albeit he is currently injured - make up a talented, deep, athletic, and dependable corps at the position.

But just like Ty Chandler, the last player in this series, not all of the wideouts can do what Callaway is able to do.

Jennings is a physical player who does most of his damage over the middle. Murphy is the deep threat. Palmer is the type who excels at 50-50 balls and is the receiver you chuck it to in hopes that he can make a play.

Callaway is all of those things, plus more.

He can beat you short, intermediate, deep, in 50-50 situations - he can do it all. He also has a very good rapport with Jarret Guarantano as they head into their third year as Tennessee’s quarterback/WR1 combo.

This is evident by the fact that Callaway has been UT’s leading receiver over the past two seasons, recording 61 catches for 998 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s been responsible for more than 22% of Tennessee’s receiving yards, 26% of receiving touchdowns, and 18% of receptions since 2017. Brandon Johnson, who took a major step back in 2018, is the second-leading receiver over the past two year with 51 receptions for 614 yards and one touchdown. For comparison’s sake, that’s 14% of the Vols’ receiving yardage, 14% of their receptions, and .04% of the receiving touchdowns.

To say that there would be a major dropoff without Callaway is fair. Not only would the Vols lose one of their most versatile weapons, but they’d also lose a great playmaker who can move the chains and create momentum off of highlight-reel type catches.

The depth behind him isn’t spectacular, either. Jennings is currently nursing a knee injury and the others just haven’t shown that they can perform at a high level on a consistent basis.

And the biggest factor of all is that Guarantano needs Callaway in order to further his development. If JG can’t take the next step this year, then Tennessee’s offense may be screwed in general.