4. Two players will make Freshman All-American.
A top 12 recruiting class doesn’t usually produce multiple freshman All-Americans, but Tennessee football is in a unique situation. Jeremy Pruitt focused on elite talent at specific positions for immediate help, and that gives lots of young guys a chance to play. As a result, at least two of them will earn Freshman All-American honors.
One of them is all but a sure bet. If you have any spare money to bet, put it all on Wanya Morris provided he doesn’t get hurt. Once a unanimous five-star recruit who finished as a four-star on Rivals, Morris was an early enrollee who immediately made his way to the first-team in the spring. He has since not lost that spot and will likely start at left tackle.
So that’s one freshman who will make it. There are four other potential candidates, though. Eric Gray, a four-star running back, has dazzled coaches and viewers this offseason. So while Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan will get the bulk of touches, Jim Chaney will find ways to get Gray the ball. Jeremy Pruitt likes using three running backs anyway, and he can be a return man as well.
Meanwhile, Henry To’oto’o, despite not being an early enrollee, has already worked his way into the rotation of inside linebackers. Then there’s Warren Burrell, a four-star cornerback. He emerged in fall camp, and now with Baylen Buchanan and Bryce Thompson out, he might just have a starting job at cornerback.
One of those three guys will get it. Another potential late bloomer who could make a splash is the Vols’ one unanimous five-star, offensive tackle Darnell Wright. So that’s a fourth guy, and we already have Morris as a sure bet.