Tennessee released its first depth chart of the season as game week for the opener against Bowling Green has arrived. We’ll give you the standard reminder that Butch Jones always says not to look too much into the depth chart – that they’re more of just an indication who will be on the field first.
With that out of the way, here it is:
QB: 1. Joshua Dobbs 2. Quinten Dormady
RB: 1. Jalen Hurd 2. Alvin Kamara
WR-Z: 1. Josh Malone 2. Josh Smith
WR-W: 1. Jauan Jennings 2. Von Pearson
WR-X: 1. Marquez North/Johnathon Johnson 2. Preston Williams
TE: 1. Ethan Wolf 2. Alex Ellis
Thoughts: No surprises at quarterback, running back or tight end. Receiver is going to be a rotation, but slight upset to see Jennings and Malone listed as starters in front of Pearson and Smith. Pearson, of course, missed all of the summer while on suspension and Smith has missed time in camp, so that may play into it. But Jennings and Malone have both had solid camps and seem to have earned the right to be on the field first. Johnson bracketed with North is a surprise, though the coaches love Johnson’s work ethic and North has missed a fair amount of camp, so no stunner. Butch Jones said he expects Preston Williams to play Saturday – that explains his inclusion in the two-deep.
LT: 1. Kyler Kerbyson 2. Chance Hall
LG: 1. Jashon Robertson 2. Charles Mosley
C: 1. Coleman Thomas/Mack Crowder 2. Ray Raulerson
RG: 1. Dylan Wiesman 2. Jack Jones 3. Venzell Boulware
RT: 1. Brett Kendrick/Coleman Thomas 2. Dontavius Blair/Drew Richmond
Thoughts: The left side is no surprise – Kerbyson has been one of the most consistent players in camp and Robertson, though limited in camp, has been seen working at LG a fair amount since Marcus Jackson was lost for the year. After Crowder took virtually all the reps at first-team center early in camp, it looks like Coleman Thomas is getting a real look there, opening up the opportunity for Brett Kendrick to get back in the mix at right tackle, where Thomas has been much of camp. Dylan Wiesman surged late in camp to grab the starting right guard job over Jack Jones and others. Expect several different offensive line looks not only early in the season, but possibly in the first week.
Defense (4-3 + nickel)
LE: 1. Corey Vereen 2. LaTroy Lewis/Kyle Phillips
LDT: 1. Danny O’Brien/Kendal Vickers/Owen Williams 2. Shy Tuttle
RDT: 1. Danny O’Brien/Kendal Vickers/Owen Williams 2. Kahlil McKenzie
RE: 1. Derek Barnett 2. Dimarya Mixon
WLB: 1. Jalen Reeves-Maybin 2. Kenny Bynum
MLB: 1. Colton Jumper 2. Darrin Kirkland Jr.
SLB: 1. Curt Maggitt 2. Chris Weatherd
Thoughts: I don’t put a ton of stock in the defensive tackle listing – I just view it as more of a five-man rotation at this point with O’Brien, Vickers, Williams, Tuttle and McKenzie. Maggitt should be the starting end in the 4-2-5 ahead of Vereen when the Vols go with that look. It’s somewhat surprising to see Weatherd listed at OLB after he worked with ends most of the offseason, but he’ll probably play a hybrid role anyhow, so not looking into that too much. Jumper gets the Game 1 start at MLB, though it will be interesting to see how long he holds off Kirkland. That’s no shocker after hearing coaches’ comments recently, but big-picture, few, if any, predicted that this time last year. A few notable linebackers such as Dillon Bates, Cortez McDowell and Elliott Berry are not listed, while Bynum is listed as an OLB after playing inside for most of what we saw in camp.
CB: 1. Cam Sutton 2. Darrell Miller/Justin Martin
CB: 1. Emmanuel Moseley 2. Malik Foreman
NB: 1. Malik Foreman 2. Micah Abernathy
SS: 1. Todd Kelly Jr. 2. Max Arnold
FS: 1. Brian Randolph 2. Evan Berry
Thoughts: Nothing too surprising here. It felt like Foreman was gaining momentum at that nickel spot recently, and he’ll get the start there, though I wouldn’t rule out some switching around with Cam Sutton. My guess is Martin is the true backup for Sutton, though his injury set him back a bit. Todd Kelly Jr. slides in for LaDarrell McNeil, but I expect to see plenty of Evan Berry on the field as well.
P: 1. Tommy Townsend/Nate Renfro/Trevor Daniel
K: 1. Aaron Medley 2. George Bullock
LS: 1. Matt Giampapa 2. Riley Lovingood
KR: 1. Evan Berry 2. Malik Foreman
PR: 1. Cam Sutton 2. Alvin Kamara
Holder: 1. Patrick Ashford
Thoughts: Very little changed here since the beginning of camp. The punting battle will go into the opener officially still unresolved and we may have to wait until Saturday to see who gets the first chance there.