The hype train will be more of a small engine working its way around the track this offseason for Tennessee, but there are still some Vols getting recognition.
Four UT players were named to Athlon’s Preseason All-SEC squad (third team) – receiver Jauan Jennings, guard Jashon Robertson, linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr and punter Trevor Daniel – while kickoff returner Evan Berry received first-team honors.
From Athlon’s Preseason All-SEC teams:
Jauan Jennings (3rd team)
Jashon Robertson (3rd)
DK Jr. (3rd)
Trevor Daniel (3rd)
(KR) Berry (1st)
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) May 23, 2017
Berry, who missed the final four games of the 2016 season with an injury, is just one kickoff return for a touchdown away from breaking Willie Gault’s school record, which he’s currently tied with at four overall in his career. Jennings, Robertson, Kirkland Jr. and Daniel are all returning starters who will again be counted on by the Vols at their respective positions.
Of course, there will be dissensions from Tennessee fans who think some of those players should receive more recognition, or perhaps that a player such as safety Todd Kelly Jr. or running back John Kelly should be included on one of the four teams that were released on Tuesday.
But the Vols also must face the reality that missed opportunities from a hyped 2016 Tennessee team will cost this year’s squad when it comes to offseason recognition.
The good news for Tennessee? None of it truly matters. Many of the players receiving first and second-team honors this offseason weren’t even on the radar heading into last year, meaning there were be plenty of opportunities for unproven players to step up and make a name for themselves. And Tennessee will need plenty of those types of players to emerge in 2017 to help the program bounce back from a disappoint 2016 season.