Tennessee football’s top five true freshmen most likely to play in 2022

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From the end of National Signing Day through spring practice through the arrival of summer enrollees, we’ve done extensive coverage on which true freshmen are standing out for Tennessee football. Although Josh Heupel has a lot more depth entering his second season, many of them still have a chance to see lots of action.

Now, it’s time to look at who appears most likely to have an impact. This is based on who stood out in the spring, the depth of the positions the freshmen play, the hype behind them and what has been said about them early on in fall camp. More than a few players could make a splash.

This is not the same as the post we did right after National Signing Day on the signees most likely to play. However, you can use that as a reference to see how accurate, or inaccurate, it seemed at the time. Anyway, with a re-ranking and no focus on junior college transfers this time, these are Tennessee football’s top five true freshmen in 2022.

These are the Tennessee football Volunteers true freshmen who bring the most to the table in Josh Heupel’s second season on the job.

Tennessee offensive lineman Addison Nichols (72) during Tennessee football spring practice at Haslam Field in Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Kns Ut Spring Fball 10

Addison Nichols
Offensive lineman 6'5 318 lbs

In the spring, Addison Nichols worked out at center. He now brings versatility and a good bit of recruiting hype to Tennessee football.

This was a projection made back on Signing Day and one that carried through the offseason. There’s a reason for that. Addison Nichols had a case to be the most highly touted recruit in UT’s 2022 class. On top of that, he was an early enrollee, so he got a head start in developing with the offense up front while working with Glen Elarbee.

Most importantly, though, Nichols plays two spots on the line that could garner him significant minutes. He got reps at center in spring ball, and he also can play tackle, which just suffered a crucial loss in Cade Mays. The combination of the two gives him a chance to play this year.

It’s not likely Nichols wins the starting job. That’s what keeps him down here. However, there’s a blatant need for backup center, and Tennessee football could be a bit more open at tackle this year with just one injury. Those two things open the door for Nichols to see the field a bit earlier than anticipated, although he did bring lots of hype anyway.

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