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Monday Musings: Getting 2024 started off right in Knoxville

Vanderbilt v Tennessee Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTT’SSSSSSSSSSSS MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And you know what that means, y’all. It’s time to peer into my ear and see what kinds of orange and white related nonsense is knocking around in there. Let’s do it...

1) The title of my article applies to a number of things for Tennessee athletics. First......well, I can’t help but bask in the glow of the Citrus Bowl and the prospects for the 2024 season. It’s going to be a loooooong offseason, so might as well dream for a while.

I had clamored for Nico Iamaleava to start the Vandy game in order to get additional experience, but man, I’m gonna go ahead and say that was totally unnecessary. I was not correct there. Joe Milton deserved the chance to go out on Senior Day with a big performance, and he certainly did.

Nico, meanwhile, did not need the extra reps, it turns out. That young man is already at an advanced state for a freshman. Mindset. Confidence. Technique. Intangibles like pocket presence and poise. You’re not supposed to look like that in your first start against one of the best defenses in the country. But hey, I will excitedly take it.

Just wanted to throw that mea culpa out there. I was coming from a place of bettering the program, but - again - it wasn’t needed.

2) Part of my excitement also comes from the return of Bru McCoy. I talked about it last week, but his return to the field would be a huge boost to the offense. His lunch pail/blue collar work ethic is undeniable. I have no idea about his recovery timeline, nor can I find anything about it, but hopefully there’s no issue with him being ready in time for August.

3) And hey, the Vols landed a top 2025 TE recruit in Jack VanDorselaer from powerhouse Southlake Carroll High School. That’ll work as well. Another option waiting in the wings for the passing game.

4) Now, if only we can get some good news on the offensive line front. That does spark some worries as we head into the offseason. There will be key veterans returning in John Campbell, Jr. and Cooper Mays, but who Tennessee ultimately starts at right tackle after Gerald Mincey’s transfer will be key. Hopefully that answer presents itself soon.

It is worth noting that transfer tackle Zalance Heard is strongly considering Tennessee. On3 Sports’ transfer portal tracker has UT as the most likely destination at this point at 73.8% UT really could use his services this fall.

5) And jeez, did Vol hoops absolutely obliterate Ole Miss at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday 90-64. I wasn’t able to watch all of it, but wow, did Jonas Aidoo have a masterclass performance. 24 points, 10 rebounds for the Vols’ big man. Zakai Ziegler was brilliant distributing the ball as well with 10 assists to go with 17 points.

What lies ahead? A week in which the Vols need to avoid getting tripped up on the road against the Bulldogs of both Mississippi State and Georgia. As well as this team is playing, I believe they can do just that.

Go Vols!