March is officially upon us, meaning spring practice starts in just a few weeks and the first leg of the offseason program will start to wind down.
It’s no secret that expectations will be higher for the Vols in 2015. A lot of that stems from the amount of returning starters from a 2014 team that finished 4-1 down the stretch, in addition to another top-5 recruiting class.
Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, running back Jalen Hurd, defensive end Derek Barnett, end/linebacker Curt Maggitt, cornerback Cam Sutton, linebacker Jalen-Reeves Maybin, receiver Marquez North and receiver Pig Howard are examples of some of the big names that give UT fans a lot of optimism heading into next year.
But listen to any of Butch Jones’ interviews, and you’ll hear him always harping on development and depth as two keys in his program. The Vols are starting to get to the point, at some positions especially, where depth is building up. And, while the newcomers will get a lot of attention heading into 2015, one of the biggest keys to next season will be how much the players on campus develop in what, for some, will be their third year under Jones and his staff.
Here are 10 returning players we’ve identified that can take the next step this offseason and put themselves in position to help the Vols more in 2015.