Tennessee football: Top five performers in Vols’ 48-45 OT loss to Purdue

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Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. (1) runs the ball during the 2021 TransPerfect Music City Bowl between Tennessee and Purdue at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.
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It was a tough Music City Bowl for Tennessee football. The Vols lost thanks to multiple controversial calls at the end of the game, an awful defensive performance, numerous penalties and some questionable play calls. They should have easily beaten a Purdue Boilermakers team that was severely undermanned.

However, despite all of that, plenty of players did everything they possibly could to win this game, particularly in the passing game. Even with the questionably decisions by Josh Heupel and Alex Golesh, the offense often times put on a show that nobody could ignore.

As we get set to break down the top performers in this game, most of the people we’re naming bear no responsibility for the loss. Some may bear a bit, but they made too many good plays to be ignored. Let’s break down the guys who did their part. For the final time of the year, these are our top five Tennessee football performers in the Music City Bowl.

Velus Jones Jr.
Wide receiver Senior

10 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD; 5 KR, 122 yards

In his final college game, Velus Jones Jr. did everything he could to help the Vols win. Jones didn’t return any punts, and he wasn’t dominant on kickoff returns, but he had a few nice ones. He really stood out in the passing game for UT, though, and was a huge part of the offensive success that happened on that front.

Jones’ 10 receptions led everybody on the team. Hendon Hooker could consistently rely on him when needed, and his receptions were generally important, even if he wasn’t always the guy scoring on a drive. Where he really stood out was in the opening drive of the second half.

At the time, UT trailed 23-21. However, Jones caught a 13-yard pass to start things off. He then caught a 15-yard touchdown pass. A 30-yard reception by Jones set up Rocky Top’s only field goal, one that put them up 31-30 in the third quarter. Simply put, Jones finished his career as a Tennessee football wide receiver with a bang.

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