With a new coach, a new scheme and a ton of new players given the mass exodus in the transfer portal this offseason, Tennessee football is loaded with position battles all over the field. However, all of these departures have actually assured the safety of a few starting spots, as some players are the only proven producers at their position.
Josh Heupel is going to have to rely on certain returning veterans to help get this program off the ground, and there is a shockingly high number of players who can fill that role. Those guys don’t have to worry about what scheme will be run or how they perform in fall camp really.
Assuming they stay healthy, the players we’re about to name are certain to start this fall. We’ll rank them based on how safe that spot is, but it’s highly unlikely any of these guys is relegated to a second-string role. This is based on their talent and the needs at the position. Here are the 10 safest starting spots on Tennessee football’s roster with fall camp underway.
6’2″ 240 pounds
Before Austin Pope’s unfortunate retirement, this actually could have been a position battle. Pope and Princeton Fant basically were the split starters last year at tight end, with Pope focusing on the blocking aspect of it and Fant focusing on the receiving aspect. Now, though, Fant is the sole returning starter at the position.
Combine this with the transfers of Sean Brown and Jackson Lowe in the offseason, and Fant is completely safe as the starter. Jacob Warren will likely be the backup, and he’s a guy who could push Fant given his potential, but everybody else is a true freshman.
Now, those true freshmen are all loaded with potential. Miles Campbell, Trinity Bell and Julian Nixon could certainly make a push down the road. However, for right now, Tennessee football only has one proven starter at tight end, and as a result, Fant will clearly be the guy to see the field more than anybody else when the season kicks off.