The SEC media may not be giving the Vols any love, but the people in charge of compiling preseason award watch lists sure are.
Three Vols have already been named to preseason watch lists for annual awards in the past week, and two more were added to watch lists on Friday.
Senior tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson and redshirt senior offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy were both named to preseason watch lists on Friday afternoon. Wood-Anderson was named to the Mackey Award watch list while Kennedy landed on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy.
The Mackey Award is given annually to college football’s best tight end, and the Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the top center in college football.
Wood-Anderson is the first Vol to be named to the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award since Ethan Wolf in 2017. No Vol has ever won the award, but both Jason Witten (2002) and Luke Stocker (2010) were named semifinalists for the award.
Last season, Wood-Anderson joined the Vols’ roster as a four-star JUCO transfer from Arizona Western and made an impact immediately, catching a touchdown pass in Tennessee’s first game of the 2018 season. Wood-Anderson played in 11 games and started 10 of them, and he finished with 17 catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He was asked on many occasions to help the Vols’ beleaguered offensive line in pass blocking, minimizing the impact he had in the passing game. He also had much to learn about collegiate offenses.
It’s clear, however, that Wood-Anderson is expected to have a much better 2019 season than he did last year, though.
Kennedy came to Tennessee as a transfer from the Alabama Crimson Tide, and much was expected of the grad transfer with two years of eligibility. He started at center for the Vols’ season opener against West Virginia, but then he sustained a season-ending injury in practice the following week.
According to Jeremy Pruitt at SEC Media Days, Kennedy is progressing well and could’ve participated in spring practices if needed, but he and the coaching staff elected to hold Kennedy out to make sure he was 100 percent healed and ready to go before he got on the field again.
Prior to joining Tennessee, Kennedy spent three years at Alabama and appeared in 10 games. He redshirted after suffering an injury with the Tide, but he was primarily a backup.
Wood-Anderson and Kennedy are the fourth and fifth Vols to be named to preseason watch lists this offseason. Redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was named to the Maxwell Award watch list, redshirt senior outside linebacker Darrell Taylor was named to the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, and junior running back Ty Chandler was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list.