What to Expect from the Tennessee Volunteers in 2023

What to Expect from the Tennessee Volunteers in 2023


What to Expect from the Tennessee Volunteers in 2023


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The Tennessee Volunteers had their best season in a long time last year. They had the Biletnikoff winner (award for the best wide receiver in college football) in Jalin Hyatt and a Heisman candidate in Hendon Hooker. They also beat their rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide, for the first time in 15 years. The Volunteers were also ranked first in the AP Poll for the first time since 1998 and were in the hunt for a top four ranking and trying to advance to the College Football Playoffs for the first time. The Volunteers are losing both of those high-level playmakers in Hooker and Hyatt, but have a guy right behind them to step in and be the next man up. 

With Joe Milton coming in as quarterback, he showed a lot of promise in the Orange Bowl against Clemson, with Hooker being out due to a late-season ACL injury. Behind Milton will be a young star hoping to learn and grow in Nico Iamaleava, and if you’re a Tennessee fan, you know the name. This kid has made a name for himself before he even stepped onto the Volunteers campus in Knoxville. The receiving core will be led by a couple older guys, followed by a few underclassmen still trying to learn the ropes. Redshirt senior, Bru McCoy, had just four touchdowns last year, but look for him to breakout with Hyatt being out of the picture. Ramel Keyton is a senior who also just had a total of five touchdowns last year as a junior, so he is also someone the Volunteers are going to turn to in the receiving game this year. Moving on to the younger guys, sophomore Squirrel White and redshirt freshmen Kaleb Webb and Chas Nimrod will be put under the spotlight to make the big plays as the young guns. White got some reps last year as he had nine catches, 108 yards, and a touchdown against the Clemson Tiger defense in last year’s Orange Bowl. 

Although Tennessee gave us some awesome offensive games last year, their defense was definitely not their strong suit. They gave up 49 points to a solid Alabama team and 60 to a not-so-good South Carolina team. But within that same season they held a Kentucky team led by a first round quarterback to just six points and didn’t let Vanderbilt score even a field goal. So, all in all, a consistently strong defense is definitely on the offseason wish list for the Volunteers. Tennessee did a great job on the recruiting side for this class all around but did a fantastic job defensively, they brought in a five-star defensive linemen in Daevin Hobbs and two four-star edge rushers in Chandavian Bradley and Caleb Herring. So, although these guys are young, the Volunteers are going to be putting a lot of weight on their shoulders in stopping the run game that they will face in the 2023-2024 season. 

The Volunteers were impressive last year, exceeding everyone’s expectations and getting to the number one seed in the country at some point, but this upcoming year will be the real tell to see if Josh Heupel and his Tennessee Volunteers can be a legit contender, not only in the SEC, but in college football for years to come. 


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