July 1, 2016
Everybody by now has heard plenty about Joshua Dobbs, Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara, Cameron Sutton and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The Tennessee football stars are bountiful in 2016, and that’s why there are so many people predicting big things for the Volunteers.
But there are other key players who don’t get as much publicity.
These are guys who may not be stars and certainly aren’t household names, but that doesn’t diminish their value to the Vols. If coach Butch Jones’ team is going to make some noise in the SEC this year, these players need big years.
From a once-maligned offensive line where several stalwarts perform on a weekly basis to a defense where there are a couple of senior leaders ready to break out, UT’s experience could be a major reason for its success this year if it comes together.
Receiver Josh Smith’s reliable work is rarely appreciated because of the receiving corps’ recent struggles and the other, more athletic players getting more attention.
“I think Josh is a leader because he has some clout, has some experience and has made some big plays, does everything right for me,” UT passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni told SEC Country’s Dave Hooker this spring.
Then, there are other guys who have grown into their roles such as defensive end Corey Vereen.
No team can win with just star power. The role players are vital, too. When it comes to those, Tennessee has more than its share, and that is directly attributed to the recruiting victories Jones experienced the past three years and some low-rated diamonds the staff developed.
Let’s take a look at some players who won’t get the headlines in 2016 but will be just as big to Tennessee’s hopes for success as the guys named Dobbs and Hurd.