With the 2016 season quickly approaching, Team 120 has officially wrapped up spring practice. It was a productive spring for many and not so much for others. Despite the presence of some possible red flags, this spring did nothing to slow down the hype train as we roll towards the season opener against Appalachian State.
Loser: Team health
Yet another spring passed in which many key players were injured before the Orange and White game. That is not necessarily a bad thing; there is no need to risk the health of players like Derek Barnett and Jalen Reeves-Maybin, because we already know what we are going to get from them when the season rolls around. In the spring game, Brett Kendrick was lucky to escape real harm after he went down with what appeared to be a serious leg injury, but Butch Jones announced that it was just a sprained ankle.
Winner: Tall wide receivers
The wide receivers as a whole had a good spring practice, but a few stuck out and showed excellent promise. The trio of Jeff George, Jauan Jennings and Preston Williams showed why they were so highly sought after. The one area that this team really struggled with last season was throwing the deep ball, if one of those guys can develop into a true number-one deep-threat, this team can go from good to great.
Loser: Dontavius Blair
It really is a shame that there are a limited number of positions on the offensive line, because Blair has shown improvement since his first season on Rocky Top. One of the top JUCO players of his class, he was one of the big gets for Jones early in his tenure. Unfortunately, it never seemed to click for Blair. But this year’s Blair would probably have started on those early teams in the Butch Jones era, but there is just so much talent on this year’s offensive line.
Winner: Offensive tackle position battles
The competition for the starting tackle spots have been one of the most intriguing elements this spring, and it looks to have brought out the best of the players competing for playing time. Drew Richmond is looking like the top prospect he was rated as before his redshirt season last year and Chance Hall is also another player who has also looked good at tackle. Funny how a few season ago, offensive line play was arguably Tennessee’s biggest weakness.
Loser: Appalachian State
The Mountaineers are probably not scared of the Vols. After all, they did have to take a trip down to Death Valley last season to face Clemson, and they should expect a similar result when they make their way to Knoxville. This really applies to most teams on the schedule for Tennessee, because this is a team that appears to have motivation to match their immense talent and expectations. If the downfield passing game continues to develop, the only other real worry should be maintaining health. There is no team in 2016 that is looking forward to playing Tennessee, nor should there be.
Edited by Jordan Dajani
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics