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The Tennessee Volunteers’ 2021 football team will be contributing to the 2022 NFL Draft Combine the first week of March.
With the NFL Combine starting on Thursday, four former Tennessee players are getting ready to give it their all in front of the league’s scouts and coaches.
Tennessee’s NFL Combine participants will be WR Velus Jones Jr, OL Cade Mays, DB Alontae Taylor, and DL Matthew Butler.
— Alex Golesh (@CoachGolesh) March 2, 2022
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The NFL Combine, which will take place from Mar. 3 to Mar. 6 in Indianapolis, will test several collegiate athletes from around the country to give NFL teams a better idea of each player.
Tennessee Wide Receiver Velus Jones Jr
While only at Tennessee for two seasons, Jones Jr became one of the Vols’ most dynamic players with a ball in his hands. Whether he was running a deep route down the sideline, taking a screen from the slot, or exploding through the gap on a punt return, Jones Jr was an electric athlete every time he stepped on the field.
Jones Jr ended the 2021 season with 807 yards on 62 receptions, whereas his previous season-high in yards was at 280 in 2020. The former transfer receiver from USC also hauled in seven touchdowns for Tennessee last season.
Jones Jr.’s best game of the year in 2021 came against No. 18 Kentucky in Lexington, in which he caught five receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. While Jones Jr did hit 103 yards receiving twice in the season, his game against Kentucky does get the edge because of the sheer importance of that win, helping Josh Heupel find the first ranked win of his career at Tennessee.
Tennessee Offensive Lineman Cade Mays
After a four-year career that saw him at two different schools in the SEC East, VFL Cade Mays is on his way to the NFL Draft. During those four combined years at Georgia and Tennessee, Mays had 35 starts in total, including 10 in the 2021 season and seven in the shortened 2020 season.
Mays was a starter on Tennessee’s offensive line last year from the start of the season until the Alabama game, the first time in the season he had to miss a game due to injury. After coming back to play against Kentucky, Georgia, and South Alabama, though, Mays would end up sitting out of the Vols’ next two games, including the Music City Bowl, to heal his injury before this crucial time entering the next level of the game.
A two-time winner of the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week award last season, Mays took home the honors in week five against Missouri and week ten against Kentucky.
Tennessee Defensive Back Alontae Taylor
With the departure of Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor, the Vols lose their most experienced player on the defensive side of the ball. During his time at Tennessee, Taylor was a starter for 31 games, including all last year except for the Music City Bowl. Before the Vols took on Purdue in Nashville, Taylor announced that he would be skipping the bowl game to heal his injuries before the spring.
Taylor finished the 2021 season with 19 assisted tackles and 41 solo tackles, good for 60 total on the year. In addition, Taylor also forced one fumble, had two interceptions and took one of those picks all the way to the endzone against Kentucky. Against Georgia, Taylor had a career-high ten tackles.
Alontae Taylor was named to the coaches and media Preseason All-SEC Third Team, and also served as the 2020-2021 SEC Football Leadership Council Vice-Chairman.
Tennessee Defensive Lineman Matthew Butler
Defensive lineman Matthew Butler is heading to the NFL Combine after a four-year career at Tennessee that saw him start 26 games along the way. Butler was a menace during the 2021 season for opposing offensive linemen, finishing his season with per-game career-highs in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, and quarterback hurries.
Butler finished the 2021 season with 47 total tackles, with 19 solo tackles and 28 assisted ones. Additionally, Butler had five sacks and one forced fumble during his campaign last season.
From Raleigh, N.C., Butler has been a leader on the Tennessee team for many years now. The former Tennessee senior was a William V. Campbell Trophy Semi-Finalist and a Wuerffel Trophy nominee last year.