Tennessee released their official depth chart ahead of their season opener against Georgia Tech, and several things stood out from their initial depth chart.
To start, here’s a look at the official depth chart:
A look at the Vols’ official depth chart to start the season. Note that Nigel Warrior starts while TK and Abernathy are co-starters: pic.twitter.com/7efw5ygjdM
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) August 30, 2017
It’s also worth noting that although Drew Richmond is listed as a starter at left tackle, he won’t be playing in the Vols’ opener because he is suspended for the game due to a violation of team rules. In his place will be sophomore Marcus Tatum.
Now here is our analysis of the Vols’ first official depth chart of the 2017 season.
The Vols have five true and redshirt freshmen listed as either starters or co-starters in their initial depth chart. Trey Smith is listed as Tennessee’s starting right guard, and the rest of the freshmen are listed as potential co-starters.
Wide receiver Josh Palmer, receiver Latrell Williams, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, and kicker Brent Cimaglia are all listed as co-starters at their respective positions.
Tennessee has four other true and redshirt freshmen listed as primary backups at positions as well. Left tackle Nathan Neihaus, right guard Ryan Johnson, defensive end Deandre Johnson, and cornerback Shawn Shamburger were all listed on the second string.
Tons of – OR – Listed
Tennessee had a total of seven starting positions listed with “or” on them. And they had another “or” listed at a backup spot.
Tennessee had co-starters listed at left guard, No. 2 receiver, slot receiver, quarterback, free safety, place kicker, and long snapper. Jack Jones and Venzell Boulware are listed as co-starters at left guard, Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson at the No. 2 receiver, Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano (of course) at quarterback, Todd Kelly Jr. and Micah Abernathy at free safety, Aaron Medley and Brent Cimaglia at place kicker, and Riley Lovingood and Elijah Medford at long snapper. The slot receiver actually has three co-starters listed with Latrell Williams, Tyler Byrd, and Josh Smith.
Elliot Berry and Quart’e Sapp are listed as co-second string linebackers behind Cortez McDowell.
Dormady and Guarantano being listed as co-starters at quarterback is one of the least surprising aspects of the Vols’ official depth chart. But there are a few things that stood out from the listed starters.
Seeing the congestion at the slot receiver was a bit of a surprise. Sophomore Tyler Byrd seemed to be the hands-on favorite to win that spot outright, but Latrell Williams has apparently done enough in fall camp to make that a true competition. Redshirt senior Josh Smith should get some snaps there as he eases back from injury as well.
Despite the praise from coaches this fall and his impressive play during fall camp, Marquez Callaway isn’t listed as a starting receiver for the Vols. Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson are presented as the co-starters at the No. 2 receiver spot, and Callaway is listed as Jauan Jennings’ main backup at the No. 1 receiver spot. Callaway is, however, listed as the Vols’ starting punt returner.
Right now, Carlin Fils-Aime is listed as John Kelly’s main backup at running back. Expect that to change as the season progresses.
Seeing Shy Tuttle’s name behind Kahlil McKenzie at defensive tackle was a little surprising initially. Tuttle has progressed rapidly from his season-ending injury last season and could be back earlier than many expected.
Nigel Warrior will officially start for the Vols to start the season, but Todd Kelly Jr. may not. Kelly is listed as a co-starter with Micah Abernathy instead of Abernathy being listed as a co-starter with Warrior. Coaches have stated before it will be hard to keep Warrior off the field, and he’ll have plenty of opportunity to show off his skills to start the season.
Dillon Bates, not Daniel Bituli or freshman Will Ignont, is listed as the backup to Colton Jumper at inside linebacker. Jumper will likely be the starter for the foreseeable future with Darrin Kirkland Jr. out with injury.
Although he showed off some electric ability filling in last year, Tyler Byrd is nowhere to be found on the Vols’ kick returner depth chart. Evan Berry is the obvious starter, and junior Micah Abernathy is listed as the second returner. Freshman running back Ty Chandler is listed as the first backup. Byrd returned 10 kicks last year for 263 yards, ripping off a 67-yard return against Vanderbilt.