April 17, 2024

Five storylines for Vols heading into spring practice

The Tennessee Volunteers enter spring practice with high expectations. Staff writer Robert Hughes details the five headlines Vol Nation should pay attention to.

Photos obtained via creativecommons.org. No changes made.

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The Tennessee Volunteers take the field for the first official spring practice on Monday. Here are five storylines heading in.

1) Title IX lawsuit: Nearly all the talk this offseason has pertained to the Title IX lawsuit filed against the University of Tennessee. In case you haven’t checked Twitter or ESPN in the past month or so, or perhaps if you live under a rock, UT has been sued by eight anonymous women. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the university violated Title IX laws in cases involving former football players.

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director Dave Hart, and football coach Butch Jones were all named in the lawsuit by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claimed that Cheek, Hart, and Jones “had actual notice of previous sexual assaults and rapes by football players, yet acted with deliberate indifference to the serious risks of sexual assaults and failed to take corrective actions.” There is not a scheduled date for the hearing at this time.

2) Reeves-Maybin, Sutton, and Kamara are here to stay: Following Tennessee’s blowout victory over Northwestern at the Outback Bowl in January, chatter spread throughout Rocky Top that three of Tennessee’s best players could forgo their remaining eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Luckily for Vol Nation (and Butch Jones), linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, defensive back Cam Sutton, and running back Alvin Kamara all decided to stay in Knoxville for the 2016 season.

3) First practice for 2016 standouts: National Signing Day was fruitful for Butch Jones and his coaching staff. The Vols finished with the No. 14 class, according to 247Sports. The 2016 recruiting class features dual-threat quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, safety Nigel Warrior, and the No. 1 junior-college player in the nation, Jonathan Kongbo. Early enrollees Jeff George, Marquill Osborne, and D.J. Henderson will take the field for spring practice.

4) Bob Shoop looking to energize defense: Bob Shoop was hired in the offseason after Tennessee and former defensive coordinator John Jancek parted ways. Shoop, formerly defensive coordinator under James Franklin at both Vanderbilt and Penn State, looks to energize this year’s defense that ranked No. 7 in the SEC last season.

“It’ll be an in-your-face style that people are going to like to play, that is built on relentless pursuit, never-ending pressure, good fundamentals and techniques,” Shoop said.

With the return of Reeves-Maybin and Sutton, as well as the addition of Jonathan Kongbo, Shoop has plenty of talent to make this season’s defense elite.

5) Feels like ’98: There’s a lot of pressure on the Volunteers this season. Butch Jones has compiled a 21-17 record in his three years at Tennessee, improving by two wins each season. He convinced three of his best players to stay. He’s got a dual-threat quarterback, one of the best running back duos in the nation—Jalen Hurd and Kamara—and an excellent recruiting class. Sophomore defensive linemen Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie have had a year under their belts to improve. Anything short of a conference championship appearance will likely be deemed a failure. The pieces are in place for the Volunteers to make a run to the SEC Championship, and perhaps the College Football Playoff.

Featured image courtesy of murdoc

Edited by David Bradford

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When Robert isn't writing stories for the greatest online news site of all time, he enjoys playing the tuba, hanging out with friends, and opening the "T" on Saturdays in Knoxville. You can follow him on Twitter-@tnytuba09