PFF Season Grades: Tennessee

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    Tennessee Bowl Projections

    Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

    Tennessee football went 7-5 in Josh Heupel’s inaugural season. The Vols went .500 in SEC play, picking up a top 25 win at Kentucky while losing a pair of close games to Pitt and Ole Miss.

    Each week, we’ve posted Tennessee player’s individual grades in the weekly performance. Now with the regular season over, he’s take a look at Tennessee player’s full season grades.

    If you need a reminder on how Pro Football Focus works, read the opening of the Bowling Green grades.

    Elite grade = 90-100, All-Conference = 85-89, Starter = 70-84, Backup = 60-69, Replaceable = 60 >

    Offensive Grades (minimum 100 plays)

    QB Hendon Hooker — 84.9 (673 plays)

    RB Tiyon Evans — 81.3 (215 plays)

    OT Jeremiah Crawford — 78.8 (104 plays)

    WR Velus Jones Jr. — 78.4 (495 plays)

    WR Cedric Tillman — 77.0 (748 plays)

    RB Jabari Small — 75.4 (377 plays)

    RB Jaylen Wright — 75.2 (175 plays)

    OT Cade Mays — 73.4 (493 plays)

    OG Javontez Spraggins — 61.8 (750 plays)

    OT Darnell Wright — 59.5 (811 plays)

    C Cooper Mays — 58.7 (369 plays)

    QB Joe Milton — 58.5 (184 plays)

    OG Ollie Lane — 58.4 (462 plays)

    TE Princeton Fant — 58.3 (421 plays)

    TE Jacob Warren — 57.1 (396 plays)

    WR JaVonta Payton — 57.9 (609 plays)

    OG Kingston Harris — 55.2 (107 plays)

    OT Dayne Davis — 55.1 (329 plays)

    WR Jalin Hyatt — 54.7 (287 plays)

    WR Ramel Keyton — 54.2 (222 plays)

    OG Jerome Carvin — 52.4 (785 plays)

    These grades really orchestrate the impact Hendon Hooker had on Tennessee’s offense. Not only did he separate himself as a good player and UT’s best quarterback, but he proved to be the Vols’ best offensive players.

    Oddly, Tennessee had a major gap in its rankings with only one player grading out in the 60s while six players graded out in the 70s and 12 players graded out in the 50s.

    Tiyon Evans was a really good player and it’s a shame Tennessee only got 215 snaps out of him. Still, the Vols appear in good shape at running back as sophomore Jabari Small and freshman Jaylen Wright had great seasons.

    SEC Conference Championship Preview: Georgia Vs. Alabama

    Defensive Grades (minimum 100 plays)

    CB Alontae Taylor — 82.7 (820 plays)

    STAR Theo Jackson — 80.2 (715 plays)

    DT Matthew Butler — 75.8 (664 plays)

    DE Byron Young — 75.6 (399 plays)

    DT Elijah Simmons — 75.3 (157 plays)

    DT Da’Jon Terry — 74.0 (251 plays)

    DE Tyler Baron — 69.7 (395 plays)

    DT La’Trell Bumphus — 68.1 (142 plays)

    DT Omari Thomas — 66.5 (301 plays)

    CB Warren Burell — 63.8 (741 plays)

    DE Roman Harrison — 63.0 (335 plays)

    S Trevon Flowers — 63.0 (826 plays)

    STAR Brandon Turnage — 61.4 (129 plays)

    DE Caleb Tremblay — 61.2 (399 plays)

    LB Juwan Mitchell — 60.3 (106 plays)

    CB Kamal Hadden — 60.1 (186 plays)

    DE Ja’Quain Blakely — 59.6 (474 plays)

    CB Doneiko Slaughter — 54.2 (175 plays)

    S Jaylen McCollough — 53.5 (908 plays)

    LB Aaron Beasley — 53.0 (685 plays)

    LB Jeremy Banks — 52.9 (659 plays)

    LB Solon Page III — 50.6 (329 plays)

    Shoutout to Tennessee’s seniors. Matthew Butler, Theo Jackson and Alontae Taylor played great ball all season and it’s a big reason the Vols’ defense wasn’t horrible.

    At the same time, that means Tennessee has to replace some really productive players next year. That seems especially challenging in the back end where the Vols’ depth was poor.

    The most glaring thing here is just how poor the middle of Tennessee’s defense was. The Vols were bad at linebacker and safety all year and that showed in their grades. Safety Jaylen McCollough and Tennessee’s three main linebacker graded out as the three worst Vols on the defensive side.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.