1. Options emerged at skill positions
While the Orange and White game saw Jack Jancek stand out, Tennessee football had numerous skill players on offense stand out throughout the spring. Given Josh Heupel’s system, that was a big deal and a hugely encouraging sign.
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Just sticking with receivers, Velus Jones Jr. proved he could take on the burden as the Vols’ No. 1 target. In addition to drawing attention throughout spring practice and getting specific mentions from the coaches, he stood out in the spring game with three catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. The former USC Trojans transfer appears ready to stand out.
Cedric Tillman was the top performer among the players who could line up at wideout, as he drew specific shoutouts from multiple coaches throughout the spring and had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. He proved he could be the top guy even over guys like Ramel Keyton and Jalin Hyatt.
At running back, with Tiyon Evans banged up, Jabari Small began to stand out, as he was also specifically mentioned by Josh Heupel. Then, in the spring game, he had two touchdowns. Sticking with the position, Jaylen Wright reportedly showed flashes throughout spring ball, and as a speedster, that at least proves he could be used on key play.
If Tennessee football is going to be able to succeed in Heupel’s new system, skill players stepping up is a big deal. The Vols were depleted there in the spring, but they still found talent to step up. That’s a big deal, and it’s the biggest positive from those two months.