4. Non-named starters
Sometimes, what isn’t revealed is just as shocking as what is revealed. Tennessee football had a few expected starters who made the list but will apparently have to share their role with somebody else or just haven’t won the job outright yet.
One of those areas is place kicker. It was assumed that USC Trojans transfer Chase McGrath would take over the role given the departure of Brent Cimaglia. However, the roster had McGrath splitting time with Toby Wilson, who was the kicker for the Vols at the end of last year after Cimaglia shut down the season. Wilson may have potential, but McGrath is way more proven.
There’s another special teams star whose spot on the offense was a shock. Velus Jones Jr. will be the primary kickoff returner along with Tiyon Evans, but Jones is a co-starter at his wide receiver spot alongside Mississippi State Bulldogs transfer wide receiver JaVonta Payton. Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt, meanwhile, get to start at receiver by themselves.
With Jones as UT’s leading returning receiver and going to SEC Media Days, you would think he started on his own. Finally, Princeton Fant is splitting time with Jacob Warren. This is the least shocking of these, as Austin Pope’s forced retirement due to medical issues left a void for a blocking tight end, but it wasn’t fully expected that Josh Heupel would have co-starters there.