It comes at no surprise that the Tennessee Volunteers have a lot of work to do during spring practice. The Vols must find new leadership, improve defensive skill positions and, most importantly, determine who the quarterback of the future is.
Replacing key leaders
With the reality of a new starting quarterback looming on the horizon, Tennessee needs to find leadership at other positions both on and off the field. All four captains from last season (quarterback Joshua Dobbs, running back Alvin Kamara, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cameron Sutton) are headed to the NFL, and with stud defensive end Derek Barnett also gone, those positions must be filled quickly. Obviously, the new quarterback will shoulder a huge responsibility, while linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. has already expressed his increased leadership role last week.
Defensive skill positions must improve
Tennessee’s defense failed to live up to expectations last season. The defensive backs were routinely burned on deep palls and failed to consistently contain the edges. The Vols must also find a way to overcome losses along the defensive line. Defensive ends Barnett and Corey Vereen are gone, Jonathan Kongbo is moving from outside to inside and the interior duo of Shy Tuttle and Khalil McKenzie Jr. have injuries to recover from.
Make a decision at quarterback
Tennessee’s offense features the highly touted Trey Smith and a fan-favorite at running back in John Kelly, but the offense essentially boils down to the impending quarterback duel between junior Quinten Dormady and true freshman Jarrett Guarantano. Dormady has an edge in experience, as he’s played in 10 games and completed 24 of his 39 career pass attempts.
On the other hand, Guarantano was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect of 2016. Much like Dobbs, his vision is extraordinary when he runs, but he also possesses the arm talent to deliver downfield strikes.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by David Bradford