Kamara ‘Proud’ Of Callaway In Breakout Season

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    It hasn’t been a great season for the New Orleans Saints, but it has been a huge season for former Tennessee receiver Marquez Callaway. The second year playmaker leads New Orleans in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns.

    The breakout season has been as cool for Saints — and former Tennessee — running back Alvin Kamara who was teammates with Callaway in Knoxville.

    “I’m just excited for him,” Kamara said Friday. “Just happy for him. That’s my little bro. We went to school together at Tennessee. Just watching him from 2016 to all the way up to now. Like, just being with him and just seeing his progression, not only on the field but off the field. I’m just happy for him and happy for his family. He’s obviously stepped up and been able to fill a role that he got asked to fill. Being in his second year as an undrafted rookie, everything was against him but he don’t think about it like that. He just comes into work and says I got to go ball. I got to put us in position to win. I’m happy for him and proud of him.”

    Kamara’s final year in Knoxville — 2016 — was Callaway’s freshman year as the four-star receiver played as a reserve receiver and return specialist. By his sophomore season Callaway was a starter and the Georgia native turned in a strong career, tallying 1,646 yards and 13 touchdowns.

    Poor quarterback play throughout his tenure stifled Callaway’s growth and numbers leading to him going undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.

    The 6-foot-2 receiver’s talent would win out after the Saints signed him to an undrafted free agent deal, making the roster and tallying 213 yards as a rookie.

    Moving into a second year full of transition, Callaway has broken out. Star receiver Michael Thomas has missed the entirety of the season thrusting the former Tennessee playmaker into a bigger role.

    There was also the turmoil at quarterback. Saints’ legend Drew Bree’s retired and after building strong camaraderie with new starter Jameis Winston, the former Heisman trophy winner suffered a season ending injury in week eight.

    From there, Callaway has caught passes from three struggling quarterbacks: Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill and Ian Book.

    Despite the tough situation, Callaway has shined, catching 46 passes for 698 yards and six touchdowns. It’s been a rewarding process for Kamara to watch his former young teammate blossom in a tough year for New Orleans.

    The Saints enter their week 18 matchup with Atlanta with an 8-8 record, needing a win and a lot of help to make the playoffs.

    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.