This is an easy one. North showed flashes in 2013 of being a dominant force at wide receiver in the future. He is big, strong, fast, physical and looks primed for a huge leap in production in 2014. North led the Vols in receiving yards in 2013 (38 catches for 496 yards and one TD) as a true freshman after having played quarterback and wildcat running back as a senior in high school.
At 6-4, 230+ pounds with sub-4.5 speed, there may not be a more physically gifted receiver in the SEC heading into 2014. North was really beginning to develop a strong rapport with quarterback Justin Worley in 2013 before Worley went down with a thumb injury against Alabama. In the previous game against South Carolina, North hauled in three passes for 102 yards, including two stunning catches while blanketed by a defensive back – one of which led to Tennessee’s game-winning field goal as time expired.
North is a freak, and he looks like he is really starting to develop into the type of receiver everyone thought he could be coming out of high school. Marquez had 5 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown in the Orange and White Game in limited action, including a 50-yard bomb for a touchdown against Tennessee’s best defensive back, Cam Sutton. He has improved his route running, understanding of the playbook, and hands this offseason and is set to be the go-to playmaker for the Vols this season.
If the Vols can get consistent quarterback play, then the sky is the limit for #8. There are few defensive backs who can cover him one-on-one and double teaming him will leave other talented receivers running free…pick your poison.
North will lead this team in catches and yards in 2014 and my guess is that he has a few more of those highlight reel moments along the way.