Tennessee returns eight out of eleven starters on offense with only Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, and Dominick Wood Anderson departing to the NFL. Despite the fact that these three were key contributors to the 2019 offensive production, plenty of talent remains on the roster with the potential to surpass the previous season. Let’s breakdown each position, under year two, of Jim Chaney’s offense.
A 15 second Twitter video of freshmen Harrison Bailey throwing a simple seam route surpassed 70,000 views. It is safe to say that the Tennessee fans are hungry for an offensive breakthrough. During the 2019 season, Jeremy Pruitt was forced to conduct a quarterback carousel between Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer, and JT Shrout. This was mainly due to inconsistent play from all three and injuries. All three return this year along with 2019 Maryland transfer Kasim Hill and previously mentioned five-star Freshmen Harrison Bailey.
Jeremy Pruitt was quoted multiple times in interviews saying “we will play the player who gives them the best chance to win.” With Jarrett Guarantano having the most experience, under Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney’s system, he may have the best shot to start. But don’t count anyone from the quarterback room out and we may not find out till the first snap against Charlotte
The running back position could get interesting with Eric Gray becoming a star late into his freshmen year. Gray finished the season very strong rushing for over 200 yards against Vanderbilt and winning MVP in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Ty Chandler started much of the 2019 season and is a proven workhorse. Despite battling injuries, Chandler rushed for 655 yards and three touchdowns. Both have all the physical tools to become dynamic superstars.
It will be interesting to see them battle it out during fall camp. Another name to watch is Tim Jordan who is great in short-yardage situations and the best blocker out of all of them. Carlin Fils Aime and incoming freshmen Tee Hodge, Jabari Small, and Len’Neth Whitehead will round out a very deep position room.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
These two positions took the biggest hit with Jennings, Callaway, and Wood-Anderson all leaving. However, the lack of talent and depth is the last thing that could be said about Tennessee’s pass catchers. Returning starter, Senior Josh Palmer, will look to lead the receivers coming off a great 2019 season with 34 catches and 457 yards. Sophomores Ramel Keyton, and Cedric Tillman as well as senior Brandon Johnson all flashed in their limited time last year. Look for them to pick up where Callaway and Jennings left off. 2019 transfer, Deangelo Gibbs, also has great potential but did not see the field due to transfer eligibility rules. USC graduate transfer, Velus Jones, is a major deep threat. A strong incoming freshmen class of Jalin Hyatt, Malachi Wideman, and Jimmy Calloway all could see early playing time.
Moving on too Tight End, Senior Austin Pope has the best chance to start with plenty of experience. Sophomores Jackson Lowe and Sean Brown both flashed potential last year and may become key contributors. Junior Princeton Fant may also get a look here. Most intriguing of all may be incoming Freshmen Dee Beckwith who is a tremendous athlete and will garner some attention in fall camp. Look for plenty of sparks from the Tennessee pass catchers in 2020.
Offensive Line may be the deepest position on Tennessee’s Roster with the potential to become the best in the SEC. With four proven 5 stars in the room, whoever ends up starting at signal-caller will feel quite comfortable in the pocket behind this line. Senior Trey Smith is a projected first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and will lead this group. Transfer Cade Mays also is projected early in the first round and is a fluid and athlete, similar to Smith. Both have tremendous versatility with the ability to play Guard and Tackle. Sophomores Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright played very solid in their freshmen year.
Jahmir Johnson also is a great player and contributed heavily during the 2019 season. It will be interesting to see who gets the starting position at tackle this year. Sixth-year senior Brandon Kennedy is positioned to start at the center and presents very little questions about his ability. K’Rojhn Calbert, Riley Locklear, Jerome Carvin, and Chris Akporeghene all have great upside and will provide depth in a very talented position room.
With many big games on Tennessee’s schedule, the Offense must step up and clearly have the ability to do just that. Jim Chaney will get the opportunity to roll out all of his tricks and garner big plays this upcoming season. Plenty to look forward to and Vol fans will be expecting nothing short of the best.