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5 Vols To Watch For During The South Carolina Game Saturday Night

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With Tennessee’s season opener happening in Columbia, S.C., due to the bizarre world, we’re all living in, here are five players to keep an eye on this weekend against the Gamecocks.

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Jarrett Guarantano

 

Guarantano had his ups and his downs last season, completing roughly 59 percent of his passes for 2,158 yards, paired with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Guarantano’s best game from last season was against Missouri, where he would go 23-for-40 for a whopping 415 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers.

This offseason, Guarantano focused on becoming more consistent, hoping to find that same rhythm he found against Mizzou.

“Going into February, we wrote down a couple of key things, and it was be consistent and lead. I think those were two things that I needed to work on and get better at,” Guarantano said. “That’s been my focus every single day, just going into every day talking about stacking chips with Coach Weinke and just being able to grow every single day in a sense of getting better either mentally, physically, or just becoming a better football player.”

Tennessee quarterbacks’ coach, Chris Weinke spoke highly of Guarantano’s work ethic and drive to be better.

“There wasn’t a day that I talked to him that he wasn’t doing something to help himself get better – working out, throwing,” Weinke said. “You see a different level of confidence in him because he understands exactly what we’re trying to get accomplished on every single play.”

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LaTrell Bumphus


Bumphus had a breakout year last year, playing in 10 games, tallying 23 tackles, six tackles for loss, and two sacks. This year, Bumphus hopes to keep building on last year’s momentum, after having a solid summer.

“We’ve got to continue to improve every single day,” Tennessee head coach, Jeremy Pruitt, said. “The one guy that I feel like has had really good practices every single day is LaTrell Bumphus. The guy continues to come to work every single day. He’s trying to be at his best.”

With a ringing endorsement from Pruitt, Vol fans have plenty to be excited about when it comes to this talented defensive end.

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Henry To’o To’o



Last year, To’o To’o was named a first team freshman All-American, racking up 72 tackles, five tackles for loss, and half a sack. He came into the team last year as an instant starter at the linebacker position, playing in all 13 games. The first freshman to do so since A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt did back in 2011.

This year, To’o To’o has developed as a leader for the Vols, helping mentor some of the incoming freshmen.

“Our entire freshman group has done a tremendous job, and guys like Morven Joseph and Tyler Baron on the defensive side have been doing a great job of getting the playbook down,” To’o To’o said. “They try to come to me, try to ask for advice, asking me how I adapted and how I did things when I got here. I just told them to work hard.”

As this season progresses, I expect To’o To’o to continue to build on what he built last year, both as a leader and as a player.

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Eric Gray



Last year, Gray was the fourth man on the depth chart as a freshman. Despite his position on the chart, Gray was able to break into the starting rotation.

This year, after Jeremy Banks moved to linebacker and Tim Jordan’s dismissal from the team, Gray finds himself as the No. 2 man behind senior Ty Chandler.

Last year, Gray carried the ball for 101 times for 539 yards and four touchdowns, his best game coming against Vanderbilt, where he carried the ball 25 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

After a huge ending to the season, Gray is hoping to build on what he learned from last year.

“I would say last year, for me, it was just getting to learn how to be a college back. It took me a couple of games to learn how to be a college back, to get a feel for the offense, get a feel for playing in the SEC,” Gray said. “I feel like I had to get a feel for that at first. Now that I feel like I have that experience, I definitely feel like I’m going to start fast.”

A fast start is exactly what the Vols will need from Gray if they want to beat the Gamecocks come Saturday.

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Ramel Keyton


 
Last year Keyton was a talented freshman, but unfortunately for him, two NFL receivers in Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway were ahead of him. Keyton didn’t see the field often last year, but when he did, he was good for the long ball

In the three games he did play, three of the four passes he caught last year were 10-yards or more, with his longest catch being a 46-yard bomb to put the Vols into the redzone against Indiana in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl last year.

Tennessee offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney, talked a little bit about what Keyton brings to the Vols table.

“Ramel is a strong kid. He looks a little wiry, but very strong, strong handed kid,” Chaney said. “Had a real good practice yesterday, really pleased with him. He can be as good as he determines he wants to be. That’s Ramel. He’s still a young player learning, but boy, when he wants to go, he’s a good football player.”

Hopefully, this year is Keyton’s breakout year, as the Vols are relying on him this season.

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