With the No. 1 offense in the country and a 2022 Capital One Orange Bowl victory to cap off the season, the Tennessee Volunteers football team certainly had plenty of talent on it.
On Thursday, ESPN released its Top 100 players of the 2022 College Football season, with four Tennessee players scattered upon the list.
Tennessee wide receiver and Biletnikoff Award winner Jalin Hyatt comes in as the top-ranked wide receiver in the nation and the No. 6 player overall on the Top 100 list. Hyatt burst onto the scene this season like wildfire, dominating opposing defenses to the tune of 1,267 total yards to lead the SEC. The South Carolina native also added an impressive 15 receiving touchdowns.
The next Tennessee player, quarterback Hendon Hooker, lands at No. 12 overall on the list from ESPN.
“Before a late-season injury sidelined him, Hooker was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy after a magical season in which he completed 70% of his throws, tossed 27 touchdowns and threw just two picks, knocking off LSU and Alabama in the process,” ESPN wrote about the Tennessee quarterback.
After the Vols’ Orange Bowl victory, Hooker stated that it’s back to work for him as he prepares for the 2023 NFL Draft following the ACL surgery in November.
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Where there is a big gap between Tennessee’s first two names and the next, the Vols still have two talented players on the list.
Tennessee defensive end Byron Young lands at No. 82 in the Top 100 list. Young has an impressive motor while using his size, strength, and speed to his advantage.
“Young’s story is incredible,” ESPN wrote. “After finishing high school, he was working at a Dollar General store in Columbus, Georgia when he saw a flyer for a tryout at Georgia Military College, where he developed into a top-flight pass-rushing prospect.”
Young’s path eventually led him to become an Orange Bowl champion in his final game on Rocky Top. The elusive and powerful edge rusher will now head to the NFL combine and Senior Bowl here in the first few months of 2023 as he prepares for the next level. Young finished the season with seven sacks and 22 solo tackles.
And, speaking of players that did participate in the Orange Bowl with the NFL on the immediate horizon, Tennessee right tackle Darnell Wright was the final Vol to round out ESPN’s list.
Wright came in at No. 88 on the Top 100 players list.
Darnell Wright spent less time with the media than any other player of Tennessee’s offensive line – or, really, the offense in general – making him somewhat of a lesser talked-about player throughout the season. But that doesn’t mean that his impact wasn’t felt tremendously throughout the 13-game stretch. Wright was consistently Tennessee’s best lineman throughout the year as he extended his streak of not allowing a sack to a jaw-dropping 18 straight games.
Wright will also be participating in the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl this spring.
For a look at the full Top 100 list from ESPN, click here. Otherwise, here’s the Top 10 and some other notable names on the list:
- Caleb Williams, USC QB
- Jalen Carter, Georgia DT
- C.J. Stroud, Ohio State QB
- Bryce Young, Alabama QB
- Bijan Robinson, Texas RB
- Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee WR
- Max Duggan, TCU QB
- Will Anderson Jr, Alabama OLB
- Marvin Harrison Jr, Ohio State WR
- Blake Corum, Michigan RB
12. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee QB
17. Michael Penix Jr, Washington QB
34. Stetson Bennett, Georgia QB
40. Will Shipley, Clemson RB
58. B.J. Ojulari, LSU OLB
81. K.J. Henry, Clemson DE
82. Byron Young, Tennessee DL
88. Darnell Wright, Tennessee OL
97. Jayden Daniels, LSU QB
I just wanna give big shout out to our head coach, what a job you’ve done in just 2 yrs!!! Simply amazing! I can’t tell you how good it feels that we are back in the mix among the powerhouse teams in college football. This is how it’s supposed to be just like it used to be when it was no question we’d be in at least the top 10 in the polls before the first game was played. Keep up the good work coach and thank you from the bottom of my heart!!