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Insider Mailing: Sustained Success Edition

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI
Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

We answer your question about the Vols or anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing. If you have questions about anything in the mortgage process, go to

“Out of all the commitments the Vols have gotten here recently, which do you think can come in and contribute quickly?” – Nathaniel Parris 

Erik: Maleik Gray – long and rangy and is a good tackler. There’s always a place for a guy who can tackle.

Daniel: I think Jaquan Henderson and Gray can both come in and play on special teams very, very early. But I think, looking at the projected depth chart, a lot of these guys will have to wait a year or two for significant playing time. That’s a good thing in a lot of ways for UT – it’s past the stage of regularly needing a bunch of guys to come in and start immediately. We’ll see about Trey Coleman. If he ends up at running back and the Vols only sign say one more guy there, he could have a chance to play early.

Nathanael: I agree with Ainge. I think Gray and Henderson have the best chance of contributing early, maybe even making significant contributions as early as their sophomore years. Kivon Bennett could also be a factor fairly early in his career.

Ben Miller Loans

“Jeff George…thoughts on his production this year, and way too early prediction for next year?” – @MaxTE34

Daniel: George is a rotational guy, in my opinion. He could be an intriguing red-zone option.

My gut says UT is around a nine-win team in 2017. A lot of talent on the roster, but LSU comes on the schedule, there will be trips to Florida and Alabama and the East has to get better, while the Vols will have to replace several key parts. Way too early to know for sure, but tough to see the hype being as big this time next year assuming most of the guys leave early that I think will.

Erik: I still think he’s at least a year away from being a major contributor. A 2017 prediction is impossible. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Nathanael: I think people are looking at what he did in the Orange and White Game and taking too much away from that. Need I remind you of the last few Orange and White Games and how well Josh Malone looked in them? And what did he do in the regular season after those performances?

I think Jeff George will be fine and be used more in the red zone, but I don’t see him getting more than 20-25 catches at the most this year.

“Do the Vols have a WR finish the year with over 1k yards?” – @cbrentv3

Daniel: Butch hasn’t had a receiver go for 1,000 since 2010 (Armon Binns, Cincinnati), so there’s no way I can predict UT will have one this year, especially with the rushing attack the Vols have and a quarterback that has never been consistently accurate.

The key will be to get two or three guys in the 600+ yard range like Josh Malone, Preston Williams and maybe Ethan Wolf. Then spread out to the backs and everybody else, and with these running backs, I think that should be enough. If Dobbs can get his completion percentage up a touch, the offense will be clicking.

Erik: No. I think we’ll run the ball well enough that we don’t have to have somebody hit 1,000, but we need somebody to hit about the 750-800 mark.

Nathanael: I would be shocked if any Vol receiver had more than 850 yards this season. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think the Vols don’t need to have a dramatic improvement in the passing game, just a small one. A 2-3 percent increase in accuracy for Josh Dobbs will make the offense more efficient as a whole and do enough for the Vols to be much more balanced than they were last season.

“Do you think Dobbs can hit the deep ball more this year and will the defense be better than last year?” – Joey Hampton 

Erik: I do. I think the play-calling and his understanding of the passing game in his second year under the same coordinator will make the passing game better. The defense wasn’t bad last year, they just seemed to give up the big play sometimes, so yes, I think Shoop will have them playing better defense this year.

Nathanael: Yes to both. I think the defense will be better than Dobbs’ deep ball accuracy, but I think both improve. Dobbs showed a little more touch on his deep passes in the spring, and if he can do even more this summer and in the fall to improve that, then he’ll be better than last year. And you already know my thoughts on the defense. I think it could be a top 15 overall defense.

“Now that Cheek is stepping down and not “signing” off on recruits, how huge will this be in recruiting” – John Forsyth 

Daniel: I think it all just depends on who they replace him with, but yes, having a chancellor that has limited involvement in things like that is very helpful for a program.

Nathanael: It will only help it at this point. I don’t know how much Cheek was “hurting” recruiting, but I think bringing in a Tennessee guy at chancellor is the right move and should be what UT does for their next hire.

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