Players to watch: Week 1

Derek Dooley's Tennessee Volunteers are young and the Montana Grizzlies are old. InsideTennessee.com gives you players to watch on both sides as the Vols welcome the Griz to Neyland Stadium Saturday night at 6 p.m.

The Tennessee Volunteers will welcome the Montana Grizzlies into Neyland Stadium on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Derek Dooley's squad will be loaded with young starters in his second season as the Vols head coach. And Robin Pflugrad's team will feature a squad loaded with experience.

InsideTennessee.com gives you a couple of guys you want to keep your eyes pealed for in this week's "Players to watch."

Montana Grizzlies

Trumaine Johnson (junior, CB)

Somehow Johnson ended up at playing in an FCS football program, but he could definitely be featured in an upper-echelon FBS program.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 197-pound stud, has snagged nine career interceptions in two seasons. His skill set allows him to be featured on offense at wide receiver and special teams as a return man in addition to defense.

He was the team's fourth-leading returning tackler in 2010 with 54 stops. Johnson was also named a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection.

Jordan Johnson and Gerald Kemp (sophomore and junior, QBs)

When Montana enters Neyland Stadium they will walk in having not settled fully on a quarterback. They will march out both Johnson and Kemp, who both offer something different.

Kemp, a junior, offers another aspect at the quarterback position with legs that can create along the ground. Kemp was the team's second-leading rusher last season with 224 yards.

Johnson, on the other hand, provides a stronger skill set in the passing game. Johnson was the 6A "Player of the Year" in Oregon as a senior in high school when he put up monstrous stats of 3,508 yards passing and 46 touchdowns and rushed for 1,091 yards and 20 TDs.

Jordan Tripp (junior, LB)

The Montana linebacking core is chalk full of experience with FCS preseason All-American selection Tripp leading the way.

Tripp, a 222-pounder, had 99 tackles last fall for the Grizz, nine of them for losses. He brings a cerebral approach to the Montana "SAM" linebacker position as he was an All-Big Sky Conference academic team member with a 3.51 GPA.

Tennessee Volunteers

Marlin Lane (freshman, RB)

Lane, a 6-foot, 205-pound tailback, has been showing that he is ready for SEC-level football throughout the preseason. He has managed to stay at the forefront of the Vols running back rotation just behind Tauren Poole all camp.

Lane, a four-star prospect, has also worked his way into the rotation at punt returner and will likely get his first sniff at the job on Saturday.

Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson (freshmen, LBs)

No true freshman has ever started at linebacker for the Volunteers in the modern era. This season defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will march out two — Maggitt and Johnson.

The two frosh linebackers have shown they can play SEC-caliber football since the day they started preseason camp. Their size is unlike that of many ‘backers that Tennessee fans have seen in several years.

They will play a pivotal role in the Vols defense and will need to show that they can continue their "professional" approach once the lights come on in front of over 90,000 people in Neyland Stadium.

Justin Coleman (freshman, CB)

Coleman, a true freshman cornerback, arrived on Rocky Top as an early enroll in the spring and has been showing out in practice since. Early in the preseason, Coleman found himself in a battle with junior Marsalis Teague for a starting role. The departure of safety Janzen Jackson, however, has thrust Coleman into a starting role.

If the Vols are to be successful in the meat of their SEC schedule, Coleman will need to show that he can perform against Montana and lesser competition.

Justin Coleman


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