A look at some of the top position battles that will continue into the weight room and summer workout sessions as the Vols prepare for fall camp.
• (Fr.) Tommy Townsend
• (RS Sr.) Nate Renfro
• (RS Soph.) Trevor Daniel
The least glamorous position on the field might have one of the fiercest competitions this summer. The Vols lost surprisingly-consistent senior punter Matt Darr after the 2014 season, leaving the trio of a true freshman (Townsend), a graduate transfer (Renfro) and a walk-on (Daniel) to compete for the vacant spot.
Townsend has been somewhat of the presumed favorite to win the job. Fans saw what kind of job kicker Aaron Medley did solidifying the kicker position in 2014 as a true freshman. The hope is that Townsend, who was a top-10 punter nationally coming out of the Orlando area in the 2015 class, can do the same thing at punter in 2015 for the Vols.
Renfro, a Brentwood, Tenn., native who is immediately eligible as a graduate transfer from Maryland, brings the edge in experience, however. He has a strong leg too – averaging 41.5 yards per punt in 2014 on 84 attempts. For comparison, that’s just 0.7 yards per punt less than what Darr averaging for the Vols in 2014. Daniel is a strong-legged walk-on who handled most of the duties in the spring. The 250-pounder can kill the ball at times, but will need to show consistency in fall camp to have any kind of a real shot.
Who has the most to gain this summer:
Daniel and Renfro have been around major college football for a few years, so Townsend, an Army All-American in high school, can show that his high school success can translate to collegiate punting.
This one is tough to project. Townsend will certainly get every opportunity. The Vols would love for him to lock up the job for four years. But Renfro’s numbers and experience can’t be ignored. Daniel is probably the third option at this point, but anything can change in this competition. It very well could come down to who is striking the ball the best in the weeks leading up to the opener.