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Three True Freshman Earn 1st Career Starts for Vols

Photo by Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

Tennessee begins their 2019 season with several new starters across the board when compared to last year. And three of those players weren’t even on UT’s roster this time last year.

Three true freshmen have earned starting nods for the Vols to begin the 2019 season. On offense, true freshman offensive lineman Wanya Morris earned the start at left tackle, while linebacker Henry To’oto’o and cornerback Warren Burrell got the start on defense for Tennessee.

For Morris, the former five-star marks the first true freshman to start on the offensive line in Tennessee’s season opener since Trey Smith started for the Vols in their first game of the 2017 season against Georgia Tech. The 6-foot-4, 313-pound freshman was the No. 28 overall prospect and No. 6 offensive tackle in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Morris joined the Vols as an early enrollee back in January and participated in spring practices with UT.

The other offensive linemen starting along with Morris are Ryan Johnson at left guard, Brandon Kennedy at center, Riley Locklear at right guard, and Marcus Tatum at left tackle.

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Burrell impressed during fall camp for Tennessee, and his strong play along with some attrition at the cornerback spot helped him land a starting spot.

Sophomore cornerback Bryce Thompson is starting out the season suspended after an altercation last weekend. Thompson, who was a projected starter at the No. 2 cornerback spot for Tennessee, is suspended indefinitely as the situation plays out.

That suspension and Burrell’s good fall helped him vault into the starting job. The 6-foot, 176-pound cornerback was just the No. 527 overall prospect and No. 51 cornerback in the 2019 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings, but he’s proven those rankings wrong so far.

The other true freshman starter on defense, Henry To’oto’o, came in with a lot of acclaim this fall, and he’s delivered so far. But just like with Burrell, To’oto’o took advantage of some attrition ahead of him.

Starting inside linebacker Daniel Bituli is being held out of Saturday’s game against Georgia State as he heals from a minor offseason knee surgery during fall camp. Bituli’s absence opened up a spot on UT’s defense, and To’oto’o earned the start alongside Will Ignont at inside linebacker.

To’oto’o joined the Vols as the No. 44 overall player and No. 3 outside linebacker in the 2019 class.

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