Best Tennessee Offensive Player
OL Trey Smith, Soph.
To be fair to the Tennessee offense, the line was decimated by injuries as the season went on. The blocking just wasn’t there with no depth up front and little consistency once the meat of the schedule kicked in.
The one positive was Smith, a 6-6, 320-pound true freshman who started in every game and was by far the team’s top blocker. Versatile enough to work just about anywhere on the line, he settled in at left tackle, and now he’ll move where needed as the cornerstone of the rebuild.
2. WR Marquez Callaway, Jr.
3. WR Brandon Johnson, Jr.
4. RB Ty Chandler, Soph.
5. QB Jarrett Guarantano, Soph.
Best Tennessee Defensive Player
S Nigel Warrior, Jr.
After showing nice promise as a freshman with 22 tackles, he turned into one of the bigger positives out of last year finishing second on the team with 83 tackles with three forced fumbles and a pick.
The 6-0, 194-pound son of former Vol and NFL star Dale Carter might not be a thumper against the run, but he’s a tough open field tackler with the quickness and instincts to do a whole lot more when the ball is in the air.
2. LB Daniel Bituli, Jr.
3. DE/LB Darrell, Taylor, Jr.
4. DT Shy Tuttle, Sr.
5. S Micah Abernathy, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
OT Drew Richmond, Jr.
Fall camp will be all about putting together the puzzle for the starting five on the offensive front.
Trey Smith is a sure thing at tackle, but the O line that couldn’t get the running game going and had such a hard time in pass protection needs more production.
The coaching staff threw a bunch of stuff at the wall this spring hoping something would stick, but everything changes if Richmond can prove he can handle the work at tackle on a full-time basis.
The 6-5, 309-pound former star recruit saw time at left tackle, struggled, and ended up being replaced by Smith. If Richmond can lock down a spot, that frees up Smith to be a star somewhere else.
Key Game To The Tennessee Season
Florida, Sept. 22
It’s not right to say the total meltdown in the miraculous 26-20, last-second loss to Florida last season was the catalyst for the disaster that ensued, but it sure didn’t help.
The Vols were one deep ball – that wasn’t a Hail Mary – away from getting out of Gainesville 3-0 with UMass up next.
And the team never recovered.
Losers of 12 of the last 13 games in the series, a win in the SEC opener would do wonders to change the mindset, set the tone, and whatever else you want to attach to a big win in a new coaching era.
With at Georgia, at Auburn, Alabama and at South Carolina to follow, lose to Dan Mullen’s squad, and … uh oh.
2017 Tennessee Fun Stats
– 4th Quarter Scoring: Opponents 102 – Tennessee 48
– Red Zone TDs: Opponents 35-of-50 (70%) – Tennessee 19-of-35 (54%)
– Rushing Yards: Opponents 3,015 – Tennessee 1,409