The Tennessee Football Vols are planning for a big year as the 2016 college football season begins. The Vols’ reasons for optimism are many. Coach Butch Jones and his staff have assembled a talented group of players.


On the offensive side of the ball, Tennessee returns some explosive firepower in the backfield. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs returns for his senior season with much needed experience under his belt. The senior Quarterback also has at least two (2) outstanding running backs to hand the ball to. In Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara the Vols have two (2) legitimate S.E.C. running backs which is a must to compete in this conference. The wide receivers are perceived to have underperformed in the recent past. However with Preston Williams, Josh Malone, and Jauan Jennings, the Vols have three (3) talented targets for Dobbs to deliver the ball to. Josh Smith is another receiver who has shown some ability to make a play. Marquez Calloway and Tyler Byrd are freshman receivers who will get playing time as well. The tight end position seems solid as Ethan Wolf has shown the ability to catch the ball down the seam thereby creating the potential for some long gains this season. Jason Croom, a converted wide receiver can also make an occasional big play.

The offensive line looks to be improved. Despite the loss of Chance Hall for 4-6 weeks due to a knee injury, the Vols have some talented and large linemen to protect Dobbs and open running room for Hurd and Kamara. Coleman Thomas, Brett Kendrick, Dylan Wiesman, Drew Richmond, and Jayson Robertson look to be the starting line entering the season.



On the defensive side, new defensive coordinator, Bob Shoop, looks to have lots of weapons in his defensive arsenal. Defensive end has an especially good looking bunch of athletic big men including Derick Barnett, Kyle Phillips, Corey Vereen, LaTroy Lewis, and Jonathan Kongbo; are all big fast ends, who like to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

Defensive tackle is a position of some concern as Kendall Vickers and Danny O’Brien are penciled in as game one (1) starters. However, you need several players at this position. Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle will be playing multiple snaps as well. Tuttle is the best defensive lineman on the roster but his return from last year’s injury is still a bit of an unknown. Based on last year’s play before his injury Tuttle is a potentially great player.

The linebacking corp at Tennessee is led by Jaylin Reeves-Maybin who returns for his senior campaign after flirting with the possibility of turning pro. Reeves-Maybin is also returning from a shoulder injury but should be good to go when the season starts. Darrin Kirkland Jr. is another linebacker with a huge upside. Kirkland is a physical specimen whose speed and power are a potentially lethal combination. I am looking for really big things from Mr. Kirkland. The corners and safeties have an extremely difficult task in trying to stop the speedy receivers as well as provide run support in today’s college football game. It looks as though Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Mosley will be the starting cornerbacks with Todd Kelly Jr. and Micah Abernathy scheduled to start at safety. Rashaan Gaulden, also back from an injury, and Malik Foreman will be handling the nickel back position. Look for freshman Nigel Warrior to make an early push for playing time at safety.


Special Teams

Many people thought Tennessee’s punter, Trevor Daniel, was one of the most important players on last year’s team. Daniel had an extremely consistent season as time after time he boomed kicks with many having little or not return and pinning opponents deep in their own territory. Having Daniel is definitely a weapon on Tennessee’s side. Aaron Medley will handle the place kicking. Medley has been good on field goals under 40 yards but needs to be more consistent and make some longer kicks too.

On the kick return side, look for Evan Berry to pick up where he left off as one of the premier kick return specialists in the country. Cam Sutton and Alvin Kamara should be among the top punt return duos in the country as they both have the ability for some electric returns.


The Climb

All in all the 2016 Tennessee Vols appear ready to compete with the top teams in the S.E.C. East as they continue the climb to attempt to become one of college footballs top teams year in and year out.