Insider Mailing: May Madness Edition

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    Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

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

    “With the Admiral back, what are the realistic expectations for the Vols?” – @tjvol49

    Nathanael: I always assumed Schofield was coming back anyway, so it doesn’t really change my expectations for this season much. I still believe they’ll start the season inside the top 10, finish in the top 3 of the SEC, and make it to the Elite Eight. I think their ceiling is a Final Four run, though.

    Will: Anything short of an Elite 8 is a disappointment. This is uncharted territory for this program. Should be a big year.

    “Why does John Fulkerson get the minutes he does when a more athletic Jalen Johnson could do better in the same role? Fulkerson hasn’t been the same since his injury.” – @htcook1999

    Nathanael: That’s a question I had throughout the season, except I wanted to see more Derrick Walker as opposed to Johnson. The issue with Johnson last year was that he was hurt to begin the year as well, so his recovery put him behind. Barnes mentioned earlier this week that Fulkerson’s injury issues effected him psychologically, so I really do wonder why he played him as much as he did. Maybe Walker didn’t blossom till the end of the year and he didn’t feel comfortable playing him. Yves Pons has a different skill set too, and he was also still pretty raw to start the year and only finally started to find himself in the last month’s worth of games. I’ll be interested to see what Fulkerson’s role will be this year.

    Will: I expect Yves Pons to earn a lot of minutes this year. He’s drawn a lot of praise from Rick Barnes recently, and he has the athleticism and intangibles to be really good. He’ll be the one earning those minutes.

    “Chances of Vols landing Crouch?” – @jmhubbarad21

    Nathanael: Right now, I’m going to be a little optimistic and say a tad better than 50-50. That could obviously change any time in the next few days, weeks, or months, though. He hasn’t taken any official visits yet, and he doesn’t strike me as someone who will commit early. He’s a five-star athlete and one of the 10-15 best players in this class. He can take his time.

    “Who do the Vols have a better shot at getting: Savion or Pickering?” – Cody

    Nathanael: I’m assuming you mean Savion Jackson and Nathan Pickering in the 2019 class? Both are four-star defensive ends and top-50 overall players in this cycle, and I don’t like UT’s chances with either guy. I think Jackson, who lives in North Carolina, is staying closer to home. And I don’t really know how much Tennessee is on Pickering’s radar. But I would say the Vols have a better chance at Pickering, but it’s still only slight.

    “Is there a bigger control freak in all of college football than Nick Saban?” – Deon

    Nathanael: Nope. The only one who pops to mind who could challenge him would be Jim Harbaugh, but I’m still going with Saban at the top.

    Will: He’s nuts. And even Bama fans aren’t really defending his comments on grad transfers. That’s all you need to know.