Last year, Tennessee didn’t have a single player taken in the NFL Draft. In fact, last year marked the third time in the last five years that the Vols were shut out of the NFL Draft. The 2015 NFL Draft ended a 50-year streak of at least one Vol being selected in the draft, and UT has had their number of players in the NFL depleted in recent years.
But the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft looks like it will be the beginning of a new streak for Tennessee, and five Vols will get to work out at this year’s NFL Combine in front of the gathered scouts and media.
On Friday, the NFL announced their full list of 337 invites for the 2020 NFL Combine, and five Vols received invitations. Linebacker Daniel Bituli, wide receiver Marquez Callaway, wide receiver Jauan Jennings, linebacker Darrell Taylor, and tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson all got invites to participate in the combine. Safety Nigel Warrior was the only graduated Vol senior excluded from the list.
All five Vols will look to impress scouts and NFL GMs in attendance with their measureables, interviews, and athleticism, and all five stand to boost their stock at the event.
Bituli enters the combine as one of the top tacklers in recent Tennessee history. He became only the second Vol in school history to lead the team in tackles in three-straight seasons when he totaled 88 stops despite missing the Vols’ first two games of the season in his senior year. Bituli was voted to the All-SEC Second Team at the end of the season. In his career, Bituli played in 44 games and made 21 starts, totaling 266 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, a blocked punt, and an interception he returned for a touchdown.
Callaway was one of the Vols’ best jump-ball receivers in quite some time, and he was one of UT’s top deep threats during his time as a Vol. Not only that, but he proved to be a prolific punt returner, too. He finished his Tennessee career with career-highs in receiving yards (635) and receiving touchdowns (6) in 2019. His 21.2 yards per catch finished tied for first place in the SEC and fourth in the entire country this past season. In his career, he caught 92 passes for 1,646 yards and 13 touchdowns. His three punt return scores are tied for the second-most all-time in UT history, and his 13.6 yard per punt return average ranks fourth in program history.
For Jauan Jennings, his 2019 season was the perfect way to cap off his Tennessee career. The Murfreesboro, TN native had a career year and put together one of the best careers as a wide receiver in UT history. Jennings was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and participated in the 2020 Senior Bowl this offseason.
In 2019, Jennings led the Vols in receptions (59), receiving yards (969), and receiving touchdowns (8). His toughness and competitiveness showed game in and game out, and he was the unquestioned leader of the Vols’ offense. He also ran for a touchdown as a wildcat quarterback and totaled 51 rushing yards on 13 carries. Jennings finished his UT career scattered across Tennessee’s record books, placing fifth in career receptions (146), fourth in receiving yards (2,153), and tied for fifth in touchdown catches (18). Along with his 18 receiving scores, Jennings also ran for a touchdown and threw for two scores in his career.
Darrell Taylor came into his own under Jeremy Pruitt’s tutelage the last two years, totaling 16.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. His 8.5 sacks in 2019 were the second-most in the SEC, and he became the third Vol ever to record a four-sack game when he did so against Kentucky in 2018 as a redshirt junior. He, along with Jennings, was invited to the 2020 Senior Bowl. Taylor’s 19.5 sacks in his career are the 10th-most in a UT career, and he finished with 118 total tackles, 26.5 TFLs, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and seven passes defended.
Wood-Anderson never quite lived up to the hype of being the No. 1 JUCO tight end in the 2018 recruiting cycle, but his 6-foot-4, 257-pound body and his ability to catch passes and block were enough to draw the eyes of NFL scouts and earn him an invite to the combine. Wood-Anderson set career-highs in receptions (21) and receiving yards (268) in his second year as a Vol this past season. In total, Wood-Anderson caught 38 passes for 408 yards and three scores in 24 career games.
The 2020 NFL Combine will take place in Indianapolis from February 24th through March 1st of this year.