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Two Tennessee Football Players Land In College Football Top 100 Players List

Derrick Henry Impressed by Joe Milton
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III wearing the traditional orange and white football uniforms. Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics.

College football season is 100 days away and to celebrate On3 released its rankings of the 100 best college football players ahead of the 2023 season.

Tennessee football had a pair of players make the list with quarterback Joe Milton III landing at No. 81 and Oregon transfer receiver Dont’e Thornton landing at No. 95.

Milton is stepping into the full time starting job this season after playing sparingly behind Hendon Hooker for most of the last two seasons. After struggling at the beginning of the season 2021 season as the starter, Milton was fantastic last season.

Backing up Hooker for 11 games and starting the two final games after Hooker suffered a season ending ACL injury, Milton threw for 971 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Joe Milton here will draw a lot of hate,” Clark Brooks wrote. “And even though it does me no pleasure to extend the benefit of the doubt to Rocky Top, Tennessee’s Trebuchet is more than capable of keeping the Vols relevant. His arm strength pops off the screen. In the past, he has had issues controlling his throws and serving up catchable passes consistently. But it appears strides have been made there.”

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Thornton redshirted his first season at Oregon and flashed his sky high potential last season as a redshirt freshman. The 6-foot-5 speedster caught 17 passes for 366 yards and a touchdown. The Baltimore native arrived in Knoxville in time for spring practice and will factor either in the slot or out wide next season.

“Thornton might be a tad high based on his resume,” Brooks wrote. “Even so, he looks to be one of the nation’s best deep threats. Oregon wasn’t the most vertical offense last year, yet he flashed downfield with his length and fluidity tracking balls. Now, he’ll get much more practice honing in on this skill playing in a scheme with a QB that enjoys testing secondaries.”

Tennessee is tied for fourth in the SEC with Arkansas, Kentucky and South Carolina for the most players on the top 100 list. Georgia (seven), Alabama (five) and LSU (three) all have more players on the list than Tennessee while Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas A&M all have one player on the list.

Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are the only SEC programs that didn’t have at least one player on the top 100 list.

Tennessee kicks off Josh Heupel’s third season as head coach on Sept. 2 against Virginia in Nashcille.

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