North ready for the next level?

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Tennessee fans that attended last Saturday's Orange & White game saw much-improved defense, but also, what seemed to be an off-kilter passing attack.

Much of those problems spawn from the sheer lack of depth and a drop off in talent at wide receiver. After the Vols saw early departures from potential first-round draft picks Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter things are a bit sparse on the outside.

Quarterbacks Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman combined for 17 completions, 221 yards and just one touchdown on 41 attempts. That one touchdown went to sophomore wide receiver Cody Blanc, a Knoxville, Tenn., native and former high school safety.

However, fans weren't the only ones present for Saturday's performance or lack there of in the passing game. The Vols top signee in the 2013 class, four-star wide receiver Marquez North, was in the house and sees opportunity for his opening act on Rocky Top.

"I hope all the guys get healthy soon, but it is a great opportunity," North told InsideTennessee exclusively. "I just expect myself to go out, perform to the best of my abilities and hopefully grab a starting spot. Really, my goal is just to go out there and perform to the best of my ability. I believe my ability is a top wide receiver."

Assistant coach Zach Azzanni prefers 12 scholarship wide receivers. This spring, he had seven.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
In spite of missing the postseason with a shoulder injury, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Charlotte, N.C., native finished his senior season with 20 catches for 322 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior and added 642 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground on 45 carries. He was named to the Associated Press all-state team and was offensive player of the year in the I-Meck 4A Conference.

The Mallard Creek (N.C) High School and U.S. Army All-American wasn't at all surprised by the second-largest turnout in spring-game history, 61,076, or the slue of former Vols in attendance.

"I kind of expected this from the fans," he said. "Tennessee always has great attendance from the fans. Seeing the players didn't really surprise me either. Tennessee is like a big family so I kind of expected it."

North, who will officially step foot on campus on May 28, got his first look at offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian's offense and can't wait to get into the mix.

"The offense is really up-tempo and evenly balance," he said. "I am just eager to get into it and make my impact on this team. I can't wait to get here and get started."

The former FOX Sports NEXT four-star has already forged friendships with fellow wide receivers Jason Croom and Drae Bowles. He added that has been preparing rigorously to be in proper physical condition for the Vols new offense.

"I have been conditioning a lot and lifting weights," he said. "I am working on getting my footwork right too. They are giving me my playbook bit by bit. It is going well getting adjusted to everything."

North chose Tennessee over offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina, Ohio State and Oregon among others.

You can see highlights from North's senior season below:


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