If there’s one unknown on the Tennessee offensive depth chart, it’s the receiver spot — particularly the third, fourth and fifth receiver spots. Gone are Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, meaning veterans like Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson are likely finally going to get their shot in the spotlight. After those two though? It’s anybody’s guess.
Cedric Tillman and Ramel Keyton likely have a leg up due to experience in the system, but transfer Velus Jones Jr. will also have something to say in the battle. But the real intriguing part of this battle comes from a crop of four four-star freshmen, along with a converted three-star quarterback with blazing speed.
It sounds like offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is having fun watching these newcomers figure things out on the fly.
“Talent — very talented,” Chaney said last week. “They’ll go fast man. They might go the wrong way fast and that creates some problems, but they’re going fast on the football field. I’m very pleased with the kids that we brought in here as young wide receivers. I think they’re going to be just fine.”
The group consists of Jalin Hyatt, Malachi Wideman, Dee Beckwith, Jimmy Calloway and Jimmy Holiday. Hyatt, Calloway and Holiday will bring a big element of speed to the Tennessee offense, which is something that they haven’t had in some time. Wideman and Beckwith offer bigger bodies and could perhaps help replace Jennings and Calloway as early as this fall.
“I think you’ll see them on the football field helping us quite a bit,” Chaney continued. “It’s our job to get them ready to roll. I think they all have a passion for the game, which you really never know when you walk on the football field the competitive character of these freshmen until you get them out there. You have an idea, but you really don’t know. These kids all love the game of football, that’s the one quality they all share. They all want to be good and they can all run. They can catch, run and they love football, so there’s really not a lot of barriers other than knowledge that gets in their way of being productive for us.”
Tennessee just wrapped up week two of practices for the modified fall camp, but they were forced to cancel Friday practice due to coronavirus concerns. A strange offseason has thrown a curveball to these coaches, altering how they usually operate during the summer months. However, things seem to be getting somewhat back to normal with practice finally resuming.
Can these freshman get up to speed fast enough to make an impact as early as week one? Chaney seems to think so. We’ll find out on September 26th when the Volunteers travel to South Carolina for their week one matchup.