Tennessee has some playing time available at wide receiver, and a trio of true freshmen are getting their crack at it. Squirrel White, Chas Nimrod and Kaleb Webb got their first taste of fall camp on Monday, each looking to get up to speed fast enough to perhaps find the field early on.
The guy with the most buzz from that group early on seems to be White — another guy with speed to burn. The 5-10, 160 pound receiver is electric with the ball in his hands, and has plenty of people excited as he enters Josh Heupel’s offensive attack. White highlight tape is a fun watch, with his explosive speed on full display.
“He’s not slow, that’s for sure,” Heupel said after day one of camp. “Squirrel is competitive, really smart, mature in the way that he handles himself in the building, in the meeting room. Physically taking care of his body, his ability, not for the game to be moving too fast.”
As with any freshman, learning the playbook and getting settled in the offense is objective No. 1. That’s going to go a long way in determining if any of these three true freshmen find the field early on, and it sounds like Squirrel is off to a fast start.
“Really almost from Day 1 in the way that he’s handled what we do offensively,” Heupel said. “He needs to have a great camp for us and we believe that he will. He’s truly fearless. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s fearless. He’s going to stick his face in any physical situation that he needs to.”
White was a three-star prospect ranking outside of the top 500 players in the class, per 247Sports. However, Tennessee had to fend off late efforts from Auburn and Georgia on the recruiting trail. Now one year later, White is battling for some early playing time in the slot.
Each of the three freshmen receivers drew some praise from Hendon Hooker at SEC Media Days, as Tennessee’s offensive leader was asked about replacements for Velus Jones Jr. and JaVonta Payton.
“K-Webb, Chas Nimrod and Squirrel White, like, that’s the big three for me, definitely,” Hooker said at SEC Media Days. “Those young guys are coming in and really getting into the offense early. Those guys were with us during our bowl prep, so it was cool to see them come in as high schoolers and compete — like, with the one-on-ones I remember K-Webb had a fade ball, he jumped out the gym, and I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
That time during the bowl practices, plus a full spring is huge. With so much uncertainty at the receiver spot behind Cedric Tillman, Tennessee needs that competitive depth in a big way.
This trio will be fun to monitor over the next month as they figure it all out.