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Tennessee Volunteers Football: 3 Second-Year Players Poised for Stardom in 2023

Tennessee Volunteers Football: 3 Second-Year Players Poised for Stardom in 2023

Tennessee Football: 3 Second-Year Players Poised for Stardom in 2023

If Hendon Hooker's injury hadn't occurred, Josh Heupel and Tennessee football would have exceeded expectations in 2022 and come very close to making the College Football Playoff.


Tennessee managed to shock Alabama and go 10-2, adding an additional victory against Clemson during bowl season. In order for them to live up to expectations and start the 2023 season in the top-10 range, several people will need to step up.


These three players would make a good beginning.

#3. Elijah Herring, Linebacker

In Tennessee's 2022 recruiting class, Elijah Herring wasn't exactly one of the top recruits, but that didn't really matter during his freshman season when he finished with 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and a pass breakup. In his brief involvement, he was effective. He was anticipated to see the field a lot more in year two.


There will be competition on the outside with the addition of transfer linebacker Keenan Pili, but I anticipate Herring to at least make the two-deep and see a lot of the field.


Someone will need to step up at linebacker now that Jeremy Banks is gone after ranking fifth on the team in total tackles.

#2. James Pearce Jr., Defensive Lineman

It was disappointing to see James Pearce Jr. not get much playing time because he was one of Tennessee's top defensive prospects in the 2022 class.


The edge rusher from Charlotte, North Carolina, appeared to be a physical specimen at 6 feet tall and 220 pounds, but it was obvious that he needed to gain weight to play in the SEC. Due to his enormous potential, he will do a lot of that this offseason.


With Byron Young moving on, Pearce should be able to join the two-deep at the LEO position for the upcoming season. Nevertheless, Joshua Josephs, a fellow sophomore, will challenge Pearce for the backup positions behind Roman Harrison. I predict Pearce will be hired for the position.

#1. Squirrel White, Wide Receiver

Squirrel White had a fantastic first year of college. With 481 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 30 receptions, he finished fourth on the team. He established himself as the team's most effective rookie receiver and a focal point in an SEC-leading attack.


White, a talented prospect from Pinson, Alabama, wasn't the most highly regarded youngster; he came in at No. 545 nationally and was only the 78th-best receiver on the composite. He immediately exceeded expectations.


Now that Dont'e Thornton has arrived, it's time for him to improve on that, as he'll be one of the first rotational receivers. Football analysts predict White will have a fantastic year.

5.0 / 6

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