Insider Mailing: Farewell 2016 Edition

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

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

    “What do you all see as the starting defensive line next year and will Tuttle miss the start of the season?” – @neylandmafia 

    Daniel: Too early to tell on Tuttle, but I’d call him questionable at this point. With that in mind, I’d say Kahlil McKenzie and Kendal Vickers will start at defense tackle. Jonathan Kongbo and Kyle Phillips will be their two most talented defensive ends, but Dimarya Mixon, Darrell Taylor and Austin Smith could all be in the conversation.

    Nathanael: I’m worried about Tuttle. I feel so bad for that guy too. But yes, assuming McKenzie is 100% ready to go as well, I’d say it’s him and Vickers as the starters. I’m not sure where Kongbo ends up, but I feel it’s still at defensive end. With that being said, I think it will be him and either Phillips or Taylor holding up the other side.

    “Butch goes into off-season and fires all position coaches except Gillespie and Z, who’s your dream staff?” – Jake Tidwell 

    Daniel: I tried to make this at least semi-realistic and looked for guys who were at least currently position coaches in college:

    • Offensive line/tight ends: Herb Hand (Auburn)
    • Quarterbacks: Brandon Streeter (Clemson)
    • Defensive line: Craig Kuligowski (Miami)
    • Linebackers coach: Tosh Lupoi (Alabama)
    • Defensive backs coach: Terry Fair (Colorado State)

    Nathanael: That’s a fairly good one Daniel has. I’d say mine is pretty similar with the exception of just moving DeBord to OL and bringing in possibly a new OC/QB coach. I would also be fine with Brady Hoke as a defensive position coach. I definitely would want Terry Fair on staff, though.

    “What is the likelihood Kamara returns next year, and if so where does he rank among SEC backs returning?” – @DaneRheinecker

    Daniel: Maybe 25% or less. It’s possible, but I wouldn’t expect it. If he did come back, he’d be one of the top few backs in the league in terms of pure talent. Derrius Guice (LSU) and Nick Chubb (Georgia) would also be in the conversation.

    Nathanael: I’d say very low at this point. I’d be shocked if he did honestly. With running backs like Chubb and UNC’s Elijah Hood deciding to come back, this class of running back has taken enough of a it for him to feel more comfortable declaring. I don’t think there will be a Kamara on the roster for Tennessee in 2017.

    “How do you see the BasketVols doing in SEC play?” – @UTKathletics 

    Daniel: I’m encouraged overall by what they did in non-conference play, even though the record may not completely show it. They certainly looked better than the 13th best team in the league. The John Fulkerson injury is very unfortunate, but getting Jordan Bone back will be a nice boost. If I had to predict right now, I could see them finishing around eighth in the league with a conference record close to .500.

    Nathanael: I think this team is going to be quite a bit better than what the media predicted to start the season. I said a few weeks ago I think they finish in the top half of the SEC, and I’m going to stick by that. I think they end up 7th or 6th in the conference with an SEC record right above .500 for this season. They have a tough start to the conference slate, so don’t get too discouraged if they have a bad record initially. They can recover.

    “Any word on Jalen McKenzie being offered by UT, how about other offers?” – @bradlydadley

    Daniel: None that I’m aware of. I know there’s been communication between those sides, but no formal offer from UT, and I’m not sure if that will change or not. Miami, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah, Oregon State and Washington State are his major offers, per 247Sports. With Cam Akers, T.J. Moore and Yusuf Corker all committing elsewhere, we’ll see if UT re-evaluates on McKenzie.

    “You’re jumped by thugs and players have to come help you. Aside from the obvious Jauan Jennings who do you want to help you?” – Blake McLaughlin 

    Daniel: I’ll take a few of the natural protectors – the offensive linemen – Chance Hall, Jack Jones and Dylan Wiesman in particular. Charles Mosley would be a good pick from a sheer size/intimidation standpoint. Trevor Daniel could be a sneaky pick, though. Good size, and could end a lot of people with a well-placed kick.

    Nathanael: I’m 100% taking Jack Jones and Kahlil McKenzie. I’d also take John Kelly despite him not being super huge. That dude is tough and won’t go down. Also give me Rashaan Gaulden.

    “How soon into the offseason will we know who the new QB will be?” – Zach Porter 

    Daniel: Based on Butch’s history, I expect it to be a pretty lengthy battle. In the 2013 season, he named Justin Worley the starter on Aug. 26. Worley got the nod on Aug. 14 the next year. So in both cases, he let it go at least a couple weeks into fall camp. I expect something similar this year.

    Nathanael: I’m hoping it doesn’t last forever because I’d rather the players know and for them to be able t o develop chemistry with whomever it is. But Daniel is probably right. It probably won’t be decided in the spring or summer or even early into fall camp.

    “Why has 2016 killed so many celebrities/Vol Hopes?” – @neylandmafia 

    Daniel: It’s thankfully almost over. But, as always, keep your cups handy in 2017.

    Nathanael: I’m so ready for this year to be done. At least the end is in sight now.