Don't sleep on Jenkins

InsideTennessee brings you the best and latest Tennessee Vols coverage. Scroll down to read a story on what UT wideout coach Zach Azzanni expects from redshirt freshman Ryan Jenkins.

Like always, expectations are high for Tennessee's wide receiver unit.

Fans have already started penciling in the starting lineup for next fall: Marquez North, of course, then the mega-talented freshman Josh Malone, throw in the flashy LaVon Pearson and top it off with a healthy dash of Jason Croom and Pig Howard.

It's an eye-catching group to say the least.

But there's a name being brought up in coaches meetings that's largely left out of the offseason chatter.

Tennessee wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni has high hopes for Ryan Jenkins, who sat out his entire freshman season with an injury.

While Jenkins spent the season watching practice from "The Hole," Azzanni is confident the youngster will see more than just the practice field next fall.

"I'm expecting big things from Ryan," Azzanni told InsideTennessee. "I expect him to play next year."

Jenkins, the son of former Vols defensive back Lee Jenkins, impressed Azzanni during what he dubbed a "solid" spring showing before he was slowed by injuries.

"I was very impressed with Ryan during the spring. He's a very talented young man," Azzanni said. "You'll see him in the future. I'm sure of it."

Like lots of incoming freshman, Azzanni said Jenkins needed to mature when he first arrived on campus.

With a checkmark next to that task, Azzanni says the only thing he'll be asking of Jenkins this offseason is to follow "the plan."

"He's just got to do all the things we ask him to do this winter – work hard, hit the book and all that. So, if he follows the plan, he'll be fine," Azzanni said. "I can see him stepping right up there with the Marquezs of the world and playing right away."

Jenkins' chances of cracking the two-deep during his redshirt freshman season are all the more promising because of his versatility.

Azzanni said the former Scout three-star was lined up both out wide and in the slot during spring practices and flourished at both spots.

"I'm interested to see where he fits in with the guys coming in and where he compliments them best," Azzanni said.

Azzanni is confident the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder can play bot spots, so where Jenkins ends up will be based on need.

"Where ever we need the most help, that's where I'll put him to be honest with you because he really can play both," Azzanni told IT. "We're just really excited to watch him grow and keep getting better."

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