Tennessee’s football players began trickling back into town on Friday morning and throughout the weekend in preparation of the Vols’ first voluntarily workout of the summer on Monday morning.
A.J. Artis led the way as strength coach in Tennessee’s first workout following the departure of Craig Fitzgerald to the New York Giants in March. Artis hasn’t been formally announced as the head strength coach by Jeremy Pruitt, but it is believed to be a formality at this point.
All indications are that all 19 of Tennessee’s incoming freshmen who did not enroll early made it to campus over the weekend for their first week of workouts as a Vol. The only question regarding the returning players was whether senior running back Tim Jordan would arrive after recently being arrested. Jordan’s status with the program is unclear as head coach Jeremy Pruitt or Tennessee has not yet commented publicly.
With over 90 players back on campus and the season opener less than three months away, we’ve decided to craft a projected depth chart of Tennessee’s roster at each position.
We’ll start our projected depth chart with Tennessee’s offense, an offense that returns a fifth-year senior at quarterback, its top three running backs, a starting receiver, and all its top eight offensive linemen from a season ago.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will have to replace his top two receivers from a season ago, but there are options primed to take on those roles left behind by Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway. Chaney also loses his starting tight end in Dominick Wood-Anderson, but the Vols return a fifth-year senior who has played plenty of football over the previous two seasons.
Chaney should be able to lean on an offensive line that SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic considers the second-best O-line in the entire conference. But if Tennessee’s offense is going to take a step forward from last season, the quarterback position is going to need to significantly improve.
On defense, Pruitt and defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley are tasked with replacing Tennessee’s top sack producer, best overall linebacker, and leading interceptor from last season.
Despite key losses at each level of the defense, the Vols return the majority of a defense that allowed 21.7 points and 334.5 yards per game last season. In total, eight starters return.
And finally, we’ll round out our depth chart by looking at the Vols’ special teams unit, as Tennessee will have to find new returners but should be solid at all the kicker positions.
Here’s our projected depth chart as Tennessee football gets back to work this summer.