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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“Are we still looking good for Jaylen McCullough?” – @v_fball
Nathanael: Yes, the Vols are still in a good spot for him. The four-star safety released his top 4 a week or so ago, and Tennessee was one of the four teams on his list along with Alabama, Auburn, and South Carolina. I would still bet against Tennessee landing him in my opinion, but I’m always a little cautious in recruiting.
“Do we have a chance of landing transfer QB Hunter Johnson from Clemson?” – @htcook1999
Nathanael: I would be shocked if Hunter Johnson came to Tennessee. There’s a lot of history there with him and UT. If you remember back to when he was coming out of high school, he was once committed to the Vols but then decommitted and flipped to Clemson. He and Vol fans had some bad blood on Twitter, especially after Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers ended up going to Clemson as well. That’s all stuff that could be glossed over if he came to UT, but I would be surprised if he had interest in the Vols even with the new coaching staff here.
“Do you expect major changes to the Vols’ starting units with the newcomers in time for the WVa game?” – @tjvol49
Nathanael: I do, yes. The obvious position everyone will be looking at to change is quarterback, but I think the offensive line will see some changes as well as the wide receiving corps come this fall. Tight end will likely see a new starter in Dominick Wood-Anderson, and I think you’ll see a shakeup at linebacker potentially as well.
“If Keller Chryst wins the starting QB position do you see JG transferring?” – @wild_bill_cosby
Nathanael: This is the top question I have for the Vols this year outside of how many games they’ll actually win. If Chryst wins, does Guarantano stick around and learn from the bench this season in anticipation of trying to win the job again in 2019? Or will he think his time is over with Tennessee and move on? With no immediate successor in line for 2019, I would be a little surprised if Guarantano transferred this year if he doesn’t win the starting job. But Dormady’s transfer surprised me too, so it certainly could happen.
“If Coach Pruitt is saying he’s doing away with the Smokey Grey uniforms, why when recruits come in UT allows them to take pics in the Smokey greys?” – @TurtleTTC
Nathanael: Good question. I would guess it’s because the young kids like those jerseys and Pruitt and his coaches will let them pose in whatever UT gear they want as long as they’re happy. But he gets to make the rules for his actual team, and if he doesn’t like the jerseys then so be it. But I wouldn’t expect him or the coaches to tell a recruit “no” if they want to wear the Smokey Greys.
“Will Tennessee add another grad transfer this summer? Can the Vols win 4 SEC games this fall?” – @volsfootball
Nathanael: Obviously all eyes are on Alabama grad transfer offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy right now. I think if he is able to transfer within the SEC and successfully appeal Bama’s block on Auburn and Tennessee, then he’ll end up being a Vol. Tennessee could also add a grad transfer at cornerback, but I think that’s less likely at this point.
And can they win 4 conference games? Yes, they can. Will they? That’s tough. Right now, I have them beating Missouri, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt in SEC play. I think they’ll lose a close game to South Carolina, and I’m honestly torn on what I think of the Florida game. Right now, I think I’m leaning slightly towards the Vols in that match-up, but I’m not sold yet. So it’s very possible they get 4 conference victories, but so many of their SEC games are toss-ups beyond Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn. They could go 5-0 in those games and it wouldn’t surprise me a ton, or they could go 0-5 and I wouldn’t be all that shocked either.
“What is your legit ceiling for the basketvols next season?” – Robert
Nathanael: Final Four. I’m not kidding. This team could’ve made it there this season if not for Kyle Alexander’s injury and running into the Cinderella team in Loyola. With all five starters returning, the Sixth Man of the Year in the SEC returning, and the addition of grad transfer Khwan Fore, this team should finish in the top 3 of the SEC and probably earn a four-seed or better once again in the NCAA Tournament. Their draw in the tournament will influence how far they can go, but I think their actual ceiling is a Final Four run.