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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Tennessee
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  10/04/21 - Cade MaysrSr/2022, Tennessee, 6-5, 325 (DS#14 OT) + More +

  OCT 4 SEC OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: Cade Mays, OT, Tennessee,...Mays, making the start at right tackle, paved the way for a 683-yard output as Tennessee topped Missouri for a 62-24 road win. Mays did not allow a pressure or a penalty...With the help of Mays, Tennessee finished with 458 yards on the ground, representing the most rushing yards in a road game in school history and the most overall since rushing for 513 yards against Washington & Lee on Nov. 10, 1951...The Vols' 683 yards of total offense were their most since racking up 684 yards at Texas A&M on Oct. 8, 2016...Mays was dominant in a first quarter that saw UT rack up 28 points, the most in the first quarter for the Vols since scoring 35 vs. Arkansas on Nov. 11, 2000. - SEC Football

(DS#14 OT) rSr/2022 OT Cade MaysTennessee
News Source: SEC Football
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  09/18/21 - Hendon HookerrSr/2023, Tennessee, 6-3, 218 (DS#2 QB) + More +

  Hendon Hooker threw three touchdown passes and scored one of his own to lead Tennessee to a 56-0 victory over Tennessee Tech Saturday. Hooker, who finished last week's loss to Pittsburgh after Joe Milton went down with an injury, rolled up 199 yards while completing 17 of 25 passes for the Volunteers (2-1). The only negative was a lost fumble in the second quarter. Tennessee Tech (0-3) went through three quarterbacks. The Golden Eagles generated just 179 yards of offense.

With Tennessee leading 49-0 late in the third quarter, Harrison Bailey saw his first action of the season under center. Bailey engineered a fourth-quarter drive, kept it alive with an 8-yard first-down run, then finished off the final two yards for a 56-0 score. The Vols went up 35-0 when Hooker found the end zone from a yard out six minutes into the third quarter. - Tennessee/AP College Football


(DS#2 QB) rSr/2023 QB Hendon HookerTennessee
News Source: Tennessee/AP College Football
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  09/03/21 - Joe Milton IIIrJr/2023, Tennessee, 6-5, 244 (DS#33 QB) + More +

  Joe Milton is doing all he can to prepare for his first Tennessee football start. The Michigan transfer quarterback has even studied how the Vols run onto the field at Neyland Stadium. "I have never been through it," Milton said on "Tennessee Prime" on Tuesday. "I saw videos. But the videos I saw, they kind of went opposite ways. I know that is not how it goes now." Milton is in a familiar but different position heading into Tennessee's season opener against Bowling Green on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

The junior won a quarterback battle at Michigan prior to the 2020 season. He did it again at Tennessee, winning the position during the preseason. But Milton felt differently when Vols coach Josh Heupel appointed him QB1. "My first time being named the starter at Michigan, I was very excited," Milton said. "I was walking around with my chest out. Just felt like I couldn't be touched. After my situation that happened over there and all that happened and I became the starter here, I was humbled. "I learned my lesson from what I did previously." - Knoxville News Sentinel


(DS#33 QB) rJr/2023 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  09/02/21 - Jabari SmallSo/2024, Tennessee, 5-10, 206 (DS#21 RB) + More +

  If Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel's offense is going to work, its got to start on the ground. The Volunteers' 38-6 season-opening win over Bowling Green on Thursday night was a perfect example of how the first-year coach's up-tempo attack can function on all cylinders. The Vols struggled with just 67 yards rushing and led 14-6 at halftime. With a focus on the ground assault, they amassed 259 yards and separated themselves from the Falcons.

Jabari Small finished with 124 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Tiyon Evans added 116 yards on the ground and a touchdown. "Offensively there were times where we were clicking, played efficiently," said Heupel. "Other times there were things we could control that we didn't operate as efficiently as we can. Going to need to clean those things up as we move deeper into the season." Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton, a transfer from Michigan, ran for two scores and was 11-of-23 passing for 140 yards. His only completion of the second half was a 40-yard touchdown to Cedric Tillman. - Tennessee/AP College Football


(DS#21 RB) So/2024 RB Jabari SmallTennessee
News Source: Tennessee/AP College Football
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  09/01/21 - Joe Milton IIIrJr/2023, Tennessee, 6-5, 244 (DS#33 QB) + More +

  Josh Heupel sat in a high school football coach's office in 2017 when the question he traveled 1,100 miles to answer was asked. What would you do with Joe Milton? It surely intrigued Heupel, the Missouri offensive coordinator who was recruiting Milton, a blue-chip quarterback from Orlando's Olympia High. Milton had one of the strongest arms of any quarterback Heupel had seen. And that's saying a lot considering he coached two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and finished runner-up for the award himself as an Oklahoma quarterback.

Heupel's answer surprised Kyle Hayes, the high school coach who asked it. Heupel said Milton should throw the football short and softly. "Just because a guy has a big arm, it doesn't mean they should only do big things with that arm," Hayes recalled Heupel telling him. "Give Joe confidence throws. Complete short passes, build his confidence and then take deep shots." That's the closest Heupel had come to coaching Milton, who played three seasons at Michigan, until he transferred to Tennessee this summer. Fast-forward four years from that recruiting visit, and Heupel and Milton are finally together. Coach and quarterback will debut for the Vols against Bowling Green on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, SEC Network) when that advice might be put to good use. Heupel announced Milton as his starting quarterback on Monday after a preseason competition with Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and sophomore Harrison Bailey. - Knoxville News Sentinel


(DS#33 QB) rJr/2023 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  08/31/21 - Joe Milton IIIrJr/2023, Tennessee, 6-5, 244 (DS#33 QB) + More +

  Tennessee first-year coach Josh Heupel is turning to a former Wolverine to open the season as the team's starting quarterback. Heupel, who spent the previous three years at Central Florida, announced Monday that ex-Michigan quarterback Joe Milton will start behind center for the Volunteers in their opener Thursday against Bowling Green. "Joe, his grasp on our offense in the short amount of time he developed here in the early portion of training camp, his acceleration of what we're doing, his physical attributes and his decision-making led us to put the ball in his hands," Heupel said.

Despite joining the program in April after spring practices, Milton beat out Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and sophomore Harrison Bailey, a top-100 recruit in the 2020 class who started the final three games for Tennessee last season, for the No. 1 job. Last season at Michigan, Milton won the starting job over Cade McNamara and Dylan McCaffrey and had a solid start to the season, completing 15 of 22 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 52 yards and a score in a win over Minnesota. - Ann Arbor News


(DS#33 QB) rJr/2023 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Ann Arbor News
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  08/26/21 - Cade MaysrSr/2022, Tennessee, 6-5, 325 (DS#14 OT) + More +

  Tennessee earned a preseason All-SEC honor in all three phases of the game Tuesday. Senior offensive lineman Cade Mays, a Knoxville native, was voted to the first team by the league's coaches. He could start at guard or tackle. Cornerback Alontae Taylor, a Manchester native, made the third team. He had 29 tackles and five pass breakups last season and enters this year as one of the Vols' best defenders. Punter Paxton Brooks was voted to the second team. He averaged 43.6 yards per punt in 2020 and ranked fourth in the SEC. Mays, Taylor and Brooks were also voted to the preseason All-SEC team voted on by the media, which was released in July. - Knoxville News Sentinel

(DS#14 OT) rSr/2022 OT Cade MaysTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  08/20/21 - KRojhn CalbertrSr/2023, Tennessee, 6-5, 325 (DS#999 OT) + More +

  Offensive lineman K'Rojhn Calbert had surgery for an undisclosed injury and "will not be with us for an extended period of time," Heupel said. Calbert was sidelined during Tennessee's practice Monday. The senior offensive lineman was in uniform but without pads. He stood to the side during stretching, then left the practice field. Calbert has played in 32 games with five starts at right tackle. He made all of his starts in 2019, including starting two of the final three games. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Calbert worked as the second-string right tackle during the first week of preseason practice. - Knoxville News Sentinel

(DS#999 OT) rSr/2023 OT KRojhn CalbertTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  08/20/21 - Cedric TillmanrJr/2023, Tennessee, 6-2, 215 (DS#9 WR) + More +

  Kodi Burns identified a physical attribute and a mental characteristic in Cedric Tillman when he joined the Tennessee football staff in February. The Vols wide receivers coach noted Tillman's big frame. He also identified that Tillman didn't have a whole lot of confidence. "Right now, I think he is starting to play more confident," Burns said Wednesday. "I think he is starting to play big." Tillman has played sparingly in his three seasons at Tennessee. The redshirt junior has made eight catches for 124 yards in 25 games with two starts. But he could be primed to break out under Josh Heupel's up-tempo system that Velus Jones Jr. has described as a wide receiver's dream. "I think he has has got a really good chance to be a really good player in this league," Burns said. Tillman, who signed with the Vols in 2018 out of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, gives Burns and Heupel a different option at wide receiver. He's not as flashy as Jones or Jalin Hyatt. He's not as shifty as Jimmy Calloway or JaVonta Payton. - Knoxville News Sentinel

(DS#9 WR) rJr/2023 WR Cedric TillmanTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  08/17/21 - JaVonta PaytonrSr/2022, Tennessee, 6-1, 180 (DS#77 WR) + More +

  JaVonta Payton stayed busy as a Mississippi State receiver the past two seasons. Now a graduate transfer at Tennessee, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder from Nashville believes he can have more of an impact in Josh Heupel's up-tempo offense than he did a year ago in Mike Leach's "Air Raid" attack. "With the Air Raid, it was a lot of sitting down in zones and reading the defenses," Payton said during a recent news conference. "I go deep a lot more now than I did when I was at State, so I would definitely say that this offense is more comfortable for me. I think I can bring a lot of speed to this offense. "I can run. Any DB that lines up with me needs to be ready to run."

Payton, who has one season of eligibility with the Volunteers, insists that sophomore receiver Jalin Hyatt and freshman defensive back De'Shawn Rucker are the only teammates who could potentially top him in a race. He has switched Southeastern Conference locales after tallying 28 catches for 372 yards and a touchdown during his stint in Starkville, which followed two seasons at Northwest (Mississippi) Community College. Tennessee's receiver position, like many others, was noticeably affected by departures following last season. Josh Palmer became a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers, while Brandon Johnson transferred to Central Florida and Malachi Wideman to Jackson State. - Chattanooga Times Free Press


(DS#77 WR) rSr/2022 WR JaVonta PaytonTennessee
News Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press
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  08/17/21 - Aaron WillisFr/2025, Tennessee, 6-0, 225 (DS#999 OLB) + More +

  Aaron Willis' debut at Tennessee football practice took four months longer than expected. But the Vols' top-rated signee in their 2021 class has made an impression through the first week of preseason practices. "He has been a pleasant surprise so far this camp," linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary said Tuesday. Willis enrolled early at Tennessee as a four-star linebacker and the No. 137 prospect in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was suspended during spring football for his role during a March incident at Stokely Hall, delaying his start with the Vols.

Willis returned to UT team activities in June, but lagged behind his teammates physically. "His biggest issue was without playing (much in) that COVID year, he really set himself behind just conditioning-wise," Jean-Mary said. "He had to get his body back into playing shape. I feel like he had a good summer." The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Willis transferred to Life Christian Academy in Chester, Virginia, from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. As an early enrollee at UT, Willis would not have been able to play his senior season due to high school football in Maryland being postponed until the spring. - Knoxville News Sentinel


(DS#999 OLB) Fr/2025 OLB Aaron WillisTennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  08/06/21 - Dee BeckwithrFr/2025, Tennessee, 6-4, 227 (DS#999 RB) + More +

  Tennessee redshirt freshman Dee Beckwith has been a running back for nearly a year now, and the plan is to keep it that way. The 6-foot-5, 227-pounder from Florence, Alabama, signed with the Volunteers as a three-star athlete prospect, and he worked last preseason at tight end, wide receiver and running back. His move to running back was at least partially due to low numbers at that position stemming from COVID-19 contact tracing, but that's where he resided last season and this spring.

"We have Dee at running back because we believe that he's a running back, and we want to see him progress," coach Josh Heupel said Wednesday during a news conference that followed his first August practice with the Vols. "I thought during spring ball that his last five practices were his best. He started to understand the principles and using his blockers in front of him, and he started to use his body as a true weapon. "He learned how to start playing with a little pad leverage, too, because he's a big, tall, long body back there." Beckwith made his debut on special teams last December against Florida in the Vols' eighth game of the season. His first two carries totaled 24 yards in the win at Vanderbilt, with the season finale against Texas A&M yielding one rush for 1 yard. - Chattanooga Times Free Press


(DS#999 RB) rFr/2025 RB Dee BeckwithTennessee
News Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press
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  08/06/21 - Joe Milton IIIrJr/2023, Tennessee, 6-5, 244 (DS#33 QB) + More +

  Milton has zip, but what about touch? Milton has the reputation of having the strongest throwing arm of the group. That could come into play since Heupel values the deep ball in his explosive offensive system. But Milton's deep ball was nowhere to be seen. Specifically, quarterbacks only threw short and intermediate passes when practice was open to media. From that, it was clear that Milton has tremendous zip on the ball. His passes were darts, fast and accurate. That hints at the distance of his deep passes. But it remains to be seen if he has touch. A couple of his short passes ricocheted off the hands of receivers because they arrived so quickly with no touch.

Maybe it's more obvious because he's 6-5, but Milton held the football very low in the pocket before he loaded it to pass. While waiting for a receiver to come open, the football was held near his waist. Perhaps it's a minor glitch in his mechanics, but it could become relevant because of the serious thumb injury to Milton's throwing hand that he suffered last season at Michigan. Milton is already a big target for pass rushers. If the football is held too low, they'll rake it when coming off the edge. Heupel values protecting the ball. His UCF team lost six fumbles in 10 games last season, the same as Pruitt's Vols. - Knoxville News Sentinel


(DS#33 QB) rJr/2023 QB Joe Milton IIITennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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  08/02/21 - Austin PoperSr/2022, Tennessee, 6-4, 235 (DS#999 TE) + More +

  The Tennessee Volunteers are scheduled to report for preseason football practice Tuesday, with the first workout set for Wednesday morning. A couple of veteran players will not be among them. Sixth-year senior tight end Austin Pope and fifth-year offensive lineman Riley Locklear have decided not to be a part of Josh Heupel's first season in Knoxville due to lingering medical issues. Pope underwent a second procedure for a herniated disc last summer that resulted in him sitting out last season, while Locklear was banged up throughout last season and played very sparingly. - Chattanooga Times Free Press

(DS#999 TE) rSr/2022 TE Austin PopeTennessee
News Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press
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  07/15/21 - Velus Jones Jr.rSr/2022, Tennessee, 6-0, 200 (DS#30 WR) + More +

  Velus Jones Jr. and Alontae Taylor will represent Tennessee football at SEC Media Days on Tuesday. The Vols senior wide receiver and cornerback were announced Wednesday as UT's player representatives alongside coach Josh Huepel. SEC Football Media Days will be held at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was most recently held in July 2019. Jones elected to return after his first season at UT as a graduate transfer from Southern California. Jones averaged 22.1 yards on 18 kickoff returns and also caught 22 passes for 280 yards and had three carries for 16 yards. Jones became a bigger factor in the offense later in the season. Half of his catches came in two games. He had four catches against Florida on Dec. 5 and caught seven passes against Vanderbilt on Dec. 12. - Knoxville News Sentinel

(DS#30 WR) rSr/2022 WR Velus Jones Jr.Tennessee
News Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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