1. Velus Jones Jr.
Last year, Velus Jones Jr. had 22 catches for 280 yards and three touchdowns. He also had three carries for 16 yards. The bulk of that production, however, came at the end of the season. This year, with Brandon Johnson and Josh Palmer gone, he figures to be the go-to prospect.
The 6’0″ 200-pound senior is a perfect fit for Josh Heupel’s system, as he’s a speedy guy who can play in the slot and a go-to target who can play on the outside. That flexibility is important given Heupel’s rotations, and Jones will be the main offensive weapon for Tennessee football this year.
2. JaVonta Payton
We mentioned Heupel’s alternations between utility players and having a third receiver. When he has a third receiver out there, Mississippi State Bulldogs transfer JaVonta Payton will be that guy. He’ll be on the field most of the time, so he’s an effective starter.
A 6’1″ 180-pound senior, Payton had 28 catches for 372 yards and one touchdown playing in two different systems at MSU. Now, he’s playing under his third straight offensive-minded head coach, but he’s in the perfect position to make a big impact. Experience will help him too.
3. Jalin Hyatt
With Payton as somewhat of a half starter, we have to name three receivers, and Jalin Hyatt is the third one. As a true freshman, Hyatt had 20 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The 6’0″ 175-pound sophomore figures to once again be a deep threat, this time in Heupel’s system, and there will be times when he finds himself making big plays throughout the year.