Insider Mailing: Looking Ahead To 2017 Edition

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    We answer your questions about Tennessee athletics or anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing. 

    “Is it time to realize that, no matter how good it looks preseason, there’s really no reason to be optimistic come fall?” – Brent Hurst

    Daniel: Man, starting out on a sour note here. My initial gut is that this is an eight-win caliber team, but I think there are some reasons for optimism. Be honest, you’ll see some preseason video of the quarterbacks, John Kelly, Jauan Jennings, etc., and get excited. I think Tennessee has several major questions, but the East isn’t any good, so it really is up for grabs.

    Nathanael: Wow, what a way to start the mailbag this week. I, personally, am always a bit more of a realist than I think most of Vol fans are (or college football fans in general). I’m not a pessimist, but I try to stay right around the middle on most things. I do think there’s reason for optimism, and I will never try to quell anyone’s optimistic feelings. I’m not going to try to take away anyone’s hope over the season.

    “JG or QD?” – Eric Ballard

    Daniel: Ah yes, the weekly question. At least before I see spring practice, I’m predicting that Quinten Dormady will get the first snap of the season. Butch Jones likes to go with the safer bet in situations like this, so I think he’ll put the junior on the field because he’ll feel better about his ability to run the offense. Jarrett Guarantano is good enough to make me wrong, however, so we’ll see if he can.

    Nathanael: I’m still going with Guarantano here.

    “Is there anything left that @BaylorAthletics could do that would shock you?” – Carter Lawrence

    Daniel: Be forthright.

    Nathanael: Not really, no. They’re the biggest feces pile in college athletics.

    “So my dream scenario is UT HC Greg Schiano in ’18. Name a better SEC HC coach not named Saban.” – @SCompton72

    Daniel: Interesting. I was a big fan of what he did at Rutgers, but there are a ton of red flags surrounding him – cultural issues at Tampa Bay, ties to the Penn State scandal and the fact that several programs seemed to kick the tires on him after he came out of the NFL and none took him. I get that the SEC isn’t exactly loaded with consistent, proven coaches at the moment, and I’m not sure where he’d rank in the conference, but I don’t think Schiano would be a great fit at UT.

    Nathanael: Your unabashed passion for Schiano always warms my heart, Scott. I do agree with Daniel that I’m not sure how he’d work at Tennessee, but you’re right about comparing him to the rest of the SEC. You’d be hard pressed to fins many who are better in the SEC. Schiano has a proven record as a winner at Rutgers, a place that has nose-dived since he left, and has NFL experience (albeit not that great). He’s now the DC at Ohio State, and we all saw how good that defense was in 2016. You could argue someone out of the West like Dan Mullen or Big Bret, but I think he easily has the SEC East coaches beat.

    “Who are your top 3 in-state uncommitted prospects for the Vols?”  – Clay

    Daniel: I think the two defensive linemen – Brent Lawless (Nashville Christian) and Greg Emerson (North Side) are probably the top two for me. I’ll go with receiver Camron Johnson third, but there are several players I really like in state. Local receiver Tykee Ogle-Kellogg is very intriguing – you can’t teach 6-foot-6, 200 pounds.

    Nathanael: I agree with Daniel about Emerson and Lawless probably being No. 1 and No. 2 in-state. There are a ton of guys I could put a No. 3, but I’d probably go with OL Maxwell Iyama out of Siegel in Murfreesboro. I also am personally keeping up with running back Master Teague out of Blackmon because of his name and the fact that Blackmon is turning into a bit of a pipeline school for UT.

    “Which Star Wars character reminds you the most of Butch Jones?” – Luke Slabaugh 

    Nathanael: I was very tempted to go full troll and say Jar Jar Binks, but I’m reserving that “distinction” for Derek Dooley still. So with that out of the way, I’d pick Jango Fett. Why? Because Jango isn’t nearly as good/cool as what’s to come, and that’s how a lot of people feel about Jones right now. Jango is fine, but Boba Fett was better. There are plenty of Vol fans who think Jones is fine but there’s greater on the horizon.