Josh Heupel, Tennessee Produce Most Draft Picks Of First Year Head Coach

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    A year after producing just one NFL Draft selection, Tennessee and first year head coach Josh Heupel produced five players drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft.

    The five former Tennessee players selected marked the most of any program led by a first year coach and the 11th most by any collegiate program.

    Not only did Tennessee produce the most draft picks, no other program with a first year coach produced more than three. Both Illinois’ Bret Bielema and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer produced three draft picks in their first year at their prospective school.

    Tennessee ranked fifth in number of players drafted from the SEC, coming in behind Georgia, LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss.

    All five of Tennessee’s draft picks were seniors who elected to return for a final collegiate season under Heupel. The moves paid major dividends.

    The New Orleans Saints selected Alontae Taylor in the second round, the Chicago Bears selected Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Matthew Butler in the fifth round, the Carolina Panthers selected Cade Mays in the sixth round and the Tennessee Titans selected Theo Jackson in the sixth round.

    All five players had their best collegiate season in their final season in Knoxville and Mays is likely thinly one that would have been selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.

    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.