Tennessee football: 15 potential dark-horse Vols for 2019 season

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Carlin Fils-Aime
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Carlin Fils-Aime /
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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /

Despite lots of standout players returning for Tennessee football this year, the Volunteers have a lot of dark-horse candidates who could step up.

We know about all the big names. And we’re waiting on the status of some major players. But does Tennessee football have anybody who could shock the world this year, either by becoming a major contributor or turning into a star?

Our answer to that is a resounding yes. As Jeremy Pruitt enters his second season on Rocky Top, he won’t be able to prepare for everything, and despite what his depth chart looks like, he’ll still be turning to surprising talent throughout the season in search for impact players at times.

That’s just the nature of the sport. Tennessee football is not immune to that. In fact, in their heyday, they always had players come from out of nowhere. Some of their most legendary players were unexpected stars.

Travis Henry and Travis Stephens were not likely to see any playing time in 1998, but they became household names at running back after Jamal Lewis went down. The same is true for Tony Thompson in 1990. These things happen.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at those Vols who could step out of the shadows and become unexpected household names this year. These are either players who don’t figure to see a lot action but could if things fall a certain way, or they’re players who may be in competition to start but don’t have expectations of becoming stars this year.

For some players, riding the bench could have been a staple of their careers up to this point. There’s a chance a few of them have been disappointing recruits. Others, however, could just be waiting to emerge onto the scene as superstars and simply haven’t gotten the chance yet, either due to youth or depth at their position.

All of these guys, though, could bring something to the table. And they would be great stories if that happened. So let’s break down who they are. These are the top 15 dark-horse Vols heading into Tennessee football’s 2019 season.