Over the past month, we’ve been naming our projected standout Tennessee football players in different categories, from best players by class to players the Vols can least afford to lose to those most likely to win postseason awards. However, what we haven’t done yet is a standard list of just the biggest impact players on the team.
Well, with the depth chart made official by Josh Heupel on Monday, it’s time for us to look at such players. This is not based on the depth at their position or how much they will benefit from the system. Our post here is about how much they will carry the team.
Simply put, the Vols go as these players go, at least in the early part of the season. We’re taking a look at who Heupel has built his first program around, and the key players who fit the bill are actually all over the field. Let’s go ahead and break them down. These are Tennessee football’s top 10 impact players for the 2021 season.
6’6″ 335 pounds; Hometown: Huntington, W. Va.
There was always the prospect of Darnell Wright being on here. The guy was a five-star recruit out of Huntington High School in West Virginia’s Cabell County for a reason back in 2019, and he has started at right tackle for two years. However, attrition at the tackle position now has him playing a much more important role this year.
With Wanya Morris transferring to the Oklahoma Sooners, Jahmir Johnson transferring to the Texas A&M Aggies and K’Rojhn Calbert banged up, Wright has moved over to left tackle. He was really the only option, but it puts a lot more pressure on him.
Left tackle, or blindside tackle in general, is even more important in Josh Heupel’s system, as he operates out of the shotgun but still likes lots of vertical passes. His quarterbacks need time. Combine that with Wright’s talent and proven production already, and he is destined to become one of Tennessee football’s stars this year.