Do you think men’s basketball will develop consistency as the younger players develop? – Trevor Jones
Reed: Definitely, Trevor, but I don’t think you’ll see them grow by leaps and bounds in that area this season. The Vols are at the halfway point in the season. Their young players have definitely improved and will continue to do so the rest of the season. Baulkman and Punter have been the most consistent newcomers up to this point and they both have to ability to continue to develop into consistent scoring threats. If Tennessee can get more reliable scoring from them moving forward, the Vols will have a shot to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. While Carmichael, Mostella and Owens may have a big game here or there, they’re around a year of development (and strength training) away from being consistent scoring threats at this level. I really like all three of them as players at this level after they get a little stronger.
When can we expect some news/releases pertaining to the new Nike duds the Vols will be wearing next year? – Caleb Castleman
Houston: Mid-July is the official unveiling and switch, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few things were leaked out before then. Nike is a very closely guarded entity and I’d be shocked if we learned too much before the official release date gets here.
Accepting the rules of the Multiverse theory, does that mean there are an infinite number of Derek Dooleys? – John Forsyth
Daniel: According to that theory yes, and subsequently there are also an infinite number of 5-7 football teams floating out there in the universe.
Houston: How dare you ruin my day with this nonsense, John. One Derek Dooley is one too many. Now I have to think about a never-ending supply of those knuckleheads.
Is Drew Richmond seriously considering Knoxville?…read on espn that our class was essentially complete but we are still targeting Richmond and Johnny Frasier. – Timothy Donovan
Houston: It’s hard to tell. I know that this staff will recruit him until he signs elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll land him. He has an official visit set up for Texas on the weekend of January 30th, and has been rumored to possibly be in the process of setting up a visit to Alabama on the weekend of the 23rd. I think that the Vols would need to get him and his family back to Knoxville one last time to really feel like they had a shot at landing him, but that’s just a personal guess.
What will be the plan for the 3 QB commits? Redshirt one and use the other two as backups to Dobbs? How do they make the most use of all of this QB talent? Also, in your opinion, which QB commit has the highest ceiling? – Matt Rayburn
Daniel: That’s going to be one of the interesting questions of the offseason. Nathan Peterman is still on campus right now too, so I can’t even say that the backup spot is definitely open. After speaking to Jauan Jennings this week, it’s clear that he expects to only work at quarterback for now. Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones are in the mix as well assuming Jones does end up signing with the Vols, so there’s a logjam there. I think reality is that there will be some survival-of-the-fittest and some redshirts involved. I think they’ll want to get one freshman playing time regardless and probably redshirt the other two if they can. But I’m not sure how realistic it is to expect two guys to redshirt, be in the same class and both stick around for awhile. It’s definitely a good problem to have, but I’m not sure exactly how it will all sort out.
In terms of highest ceiling, I’m going to go with Jennings. I love his competitive drive and I think we still haven’t really seen what he can do as a polished quarterback since he only played there at the varsity level two season. Jones may come in as the most college-ready and I think Dormady may be the most well-rounded of the three.
Reed: I really like Jennings’ potential long term. He’s a gamer, a phenomenal athlete and an “alpha male” as Butch Jones likes to day. After Dobbs’ success, many are discounting Dormady – I’m not among those people. He’s got a big arm and better mobility than people think. Sheriron Jones is the most ready QB in this class to come in and compete as far as his arm strength and fit.
Considering how hard it is to stay healthy running the ball in this conference, are you all as concerned as I am about our running back depth if Hurd or Kamara get injured at some point next season? They’re the only spring running backs! – Tanner Owens
Daniel: It is a concern to an extent. Tennessee saw the effects of having just two reliable backs last season a few times as Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd both dealt with some minor injury issues. Ideally, you want to have at least three you feel good about, but that’s part of building a program sometimes – you’re not going to have all the depth you want at every spot. Tennessee’s best hope is that somebody like Kendall Bussey, Joc Bruce or anybody else they’re able to sign is able to step up and be that third guy. They’re also expected to have Ralph David Abernathy IV, a Cincinnati transfer, who is kind of a scat back/slot receiver combo, that could help there as well. I wouldn’t put running back at the top of the list of concerns for 2015, but you make a good point that the depth probably isn’t quite where Butch Jones would like it yet.
Houston: Yes, I do think that it is a concern. We saw what happened at Georgia this year with all four of their very talented backs going down at some point in the season. Unfortunately, I just think that’s where Tennessee is at this point and there isn’t much anyone can do about it. Marlin Lane and Devrin Young weren’t outstanding, but at least they were bodies when you needed them. Also, the losses of Treyvon Paulk and Derrell Scott didn’t have a huge impact on the 2014 season, but they would have been really nice to have in the stable for 2015. The good thing about Kamara is that he is an experienced player, so the one-two punch should be solid, but the Vols will need at least one of these freshmen to step up to help preserve both he and Hurd over the course of the season.
How should I cope with no college football games until August? – Thomas Duggins
Reed: Goodness this is a tough one. Since I know you live in the Atlanta area, I’d recommended closely following the Atlanta Hawks. They’re tearing it up right now and will have a chance to make a deep playoff run. Baseball season is right around the corner as well. But when that football itch really gets you? Go back and break down 2014 Vol football games. It’s amazing how much you can learn from closely watching a game over and over again. In the offseason, I like to watch a lot of film and read some informational books on football. Start with The Essential Smart Football and The Physics of Football if you haven’t read them.