Trio of Vol Starters Named to 2022 Watchlists

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    A trio of Tennessee Volunteers’ offensive starters has been named to various watchlists this week.

    On Sunday, both Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Cedric Tillman were named to the Maxwell Award Watchlist.

    The Maxwell Award is given to college football’s most outstanding player annually.

    Then, on Monday, Hooker was also named to the Davey O’ Brien Award watchlist, which is an award presented to the top collegiate quarterback after each season.

    Lastly, on Tuesday morning, Tennessee running back Jabari Small was named to the Doak Walker Award watchlist. The Doak Walker Award is presented annually to the top collegiate running back after each season.

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    Tennessee’s trio of Hooker, Tillman and Small were each critical to the Vols’ offense last season. And heading into the 2022 season, those responsibilities are only going to become more important.

    Hendon Hooker returns to Knoxville for his second and final season as Tennessee’s quarterback. Hooker established himself as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, finishing fourth in passing yards (2,945), second in completion percentage (68.2), third in touchdowns (31), and first in quarterback rating (182.0).

    Hooker’s leading target last season, Cedric Tillman, is also poised to have one of the top individual seasons in the SEC after a dynamic back half of the 2021 season. The Third Team Preseason All-American returns to Knoxville after finishing fifth in the SEC in total receiving yards last season (1,081).

    And lastly, after a Top 10 SEC finish in rushing yards last season, Tennessee running back Jabari Small will be back next to the quarterback for the start of the season. Small’s 792 total yards were good for the ninth-most in the SEC last season. However, the running back production last year was shared between Small and Tiyon Evans until Evans departed into the transfer portal. While Small will still have rising sophomore Jaylen Wright looking for touches behind him, the Durham, North Carolina native is poised for another solid season.

    Both Hendon Hooker and Cedric Tillman will be representing Tennessee at this week’s SEC Media Days in Atlanta. Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider on Thursday for complete Tennessee SEC Media Days coverage.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.