As the days go on, the closer and closer we get to being able to watch the Tennessee Volunteers run out of the T. As I mentioned in Monday’s ranking, I am doing a series of the most important position groups on this season’s team. These rankings will be based on how successful the Vols can be if this position group balls out.
If you missed it, the secondary was ranked as the fifth most important position. Today’s position group, based on their importance to the Vols’ success this season is the skill position, which are running backs and wide receivers.
No. 4 – Skill Position
The skill position will be very important for the Vols. Not only will there be good depth at both running back and wide receiver, but there will also be great experience returning to those positions as well.
At running back, Tennessee will have two rushers with two solid years of experience. Ty Chandler will likely get the starting job going into his junior season. Chandler missed one game last season, but still led the Vols in rushing with 115 attempts for 630 yards and four touchdowns. Tim Jordan also returns for his junior season, after he rushed the ball 132 times for a total of 522 yards and three touchdowns.
Jeremy Banks heads into his sophomore year after an interesting first season on Rocky Top. He was at running back for the first few games and had two of his three touchdowns and 62 yards against ETSU.
The highly-touted running back out of Memphis, Eric Gray, heads into his first year with a lot of hype surrounding him. Gray was a three-time Mr. Football award winner and saw action in the 2019 All-American Bowl.
If the offensive line is able to put things together this season, this group should have a very good season.
With the addition of Jim Chaney, the Vols are hoping to see great play out of the running backs. Chaney saw a number of outstanding backs go through Georgia during his three seasons there. During his first season, Nick Chubb rushed for 1,130 yards. In 2017, Georgia had two 1,000-yard rushers in Chubb and Sony Michel. Last season, D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield both rushed for over 1,000 yards. If these running backs for Tennessee are able to produce anywhere near that mark, it might be a great season for Vol fans.
Tennessee will be very deep at wide receiver, as well. Marquez Callaway, an all-out playmaker, returns to the Vols for his senior season after leading the team in receiving yards with 592 yards on 37 receptions. It feels like Jauan Jennings has spent an eternity on Rocky Top, but that’s a good thing for the Vols, considering he brings a ton of experience and that “alpha male” mentality to Tennessee. Jennings has some of the surest hands on the team and will look to show those off in his last season. Brandon Johnson is looking to have a better season after watching his targets go down last season. As a sophomore, he led the Vols in receiving yards and receptions with 582 yards on 37 receptions, but only caught 14 passes for 132 yards in 2018. If the Vols are able to get his production from his sophomore campaign, it will be fun to watch, as Tennessee will have three receivers capable of being the team leader at the wideout spot.
Josh Palmer also returns to the Vols after finishing with 484 yards last season, having standout games against Auburn and Charlotte. Jordan Murphy will look for receptions, as he brings a ton of speed. Ramel Keyton has the athleticism to see playing time as a true freshman.
If the Vols skill position players are able to produce to their potential, it could be a scary sight for opposing teams.