6-4 220 pound senior Justin Worley (Scout 3*) has earned the starting nod from Head Coach Butch Jones. Worley has 10 career starts under his belt including 7 last season before a thumb injury ended his junior campaign. Worley had 109 completions in 196 attempts for 55.6% and 1,239 yards including 10 TDs, 8 INTs, while only being sacked 6 times. Should things not go well for Worley, he is backed up by a pair of sophomores, Joshua Dobbs (Scout 4*) and Nate Peterman (Scout 3*). Dobbs is a 6-2 216 pound true sophomore who took over the reigns as the starting QB in 2013 when Worley was lost to injury. Dobbs completed 72 passes in 121 attempts for 695 yards to accompany 2 TDs, 6 INTs and he was sacked 6 times. Peterman who redshirted in 2012 is 6-2 220 and saw action in 4 games in 2013 making 1 start. Peterman completed 10 passes in 23 attempts for 45 yards with 2 INTs and he was also sacked twice. All three QBs were highly rated coming out of high school with each player garnering no less than a 3 star rating from all four of the major recruiting websites. However all the stars in the world won't help any of the QBs if the young offensive line can't keep them upright and give them time to throw the ball in an attempt to keep the aggressive Utah State defense honest.
Kyler Kerbyson (Scout 4*) a 6-4 312 redshirt junior is slated for the start. Kerbyson played in 12 games in 2013 and has appeared in 19 total games at Tennessee. Kerbyson was a national top 25 recruit at his position coming out of high school and he earned an offensive player of the game award following Tennessee's 2014 spring game. Backing up Kerbyson will be true freshman Coleman Thomas (Scout 3*). Thomas is 6-6 328 and was rated nationally as one of the top 10 centers. However inexperience will be key at right tackle with neither player ever logging an FBS start.
The player charged with protecting starting QB Justin Worley's blind side is 6-3 297 Jacob Gilliam (Scout NR). Gilliam has little to no experience in 4 seasons as a Volunteer, in fact his lone highlight from 2013 is playing in the 4th quarter against Alabama. To trust such an important position to a player with little to no in-game participation means one of two things. Either he has improved dramatically and will be an unsung hero in 2014 or the cupboard at LT is completely bare. Should Gilliam not be up to the challenge waiting in the wings is a highly rated JUCO transfer in Dontavious Blair (Scout 4*). Blair is a modern day giant at 6-8 300 who had a dominant career at Garden City CC which resulted in Blair being a very sought after recruit. I would imagine that Blair will end up getting some reps against Utah State on Sunday.
True freshman Jashon Richardson (Scout 3*) has been named the starter here. Richardson is 6-3 304 and was rated nationally as a top defensive lineman. Richardson earned several regional awards as a top high school player. Richardson may have some national acclaim as a high school player but how he shows out against a tough experienced Utah State defensive line may set the tone for his entire freshman season. The back up at RG will be yet another freshman. Redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick (Scout NR) is 6-6 316 but like his predecessor is just as inexperienced. Kendrick lacks the national recognition that Richardson achieved but Kendrick does have a redshirt year at Tennessee already behind him. Huge question marks loom for Tennessee at RG.
6-2 306 junior Markus Jackson (Scout 3*) is slated as the starter here after not being used at all in 2013 and eventually being awarded a redshirt season. Prior to redshirting the 2013 season Jackson was seeing some time playing in 12 games in 2012 and 12 games in conjunction with 5 starts in 2011 as a true freshman. Having the luxury of redshirting a player with as much experience as Jackson speaks volumes about the depth that the 2013 version of the offensive line the Volunteers had. 6-5 311 redshirt freshman Austin Sanders (Scout 3*) has earned the right to back up Jackson. Sanders came to Tennessee as a nationally ranked top 25 players who earned several regional and state accolades as a high school player.
Junior Mack Crowder (Scout 3*) has been deemed the starter at center. Crowder is 6-2 295 and played in 8 games with 1 start as a sophomore in 2013 and he appeared in 2 games during the 2012 season as a freshman. Crowder was rated no less than a top 15 recruit nationally and appeared on a slew of post season award lists as a high school player. 6-3 303 sophomore Dylan Wiesman (Scout 3*) appeared in 10 games in 2013 as a true freshman and has as much game experience as any of the lineman listed on the two deep. Wiesman was listed as a top recruit ranging from #36 to #73 nationally.
True freshman Ethan Wolf (Scout 4*) has come in and taken the starting spot. Wolf at 6-5 240 has come in and from all accounts out of the Volunteer camp he is firmly entrenched as the man at tight end. He came out of high school rated as no worse than the 20th best TE in the country and he is looking to prove it in his first collegiate game against Utah State. Wolf will be backed up by a duo of players in unhearalded junior 6-4 238 Alex Ellis (Scout NR), who in his first two seasons at Tennessee has yet to see the field. The second player in the mix to back up Wolf is another true freshman who was rated nationally no less than the #7 TE coming out of high school in 2014. The tight end position is very high in potential but also very high in inexperience. Utah State will be a tough first contest for an untested group of young players.
The top two players listed at the wide out spots belong to two players who were top contributors in 2013. The first is 6-4 221 sophomore Marquez North (Scout 4*) had a solid season as a true freshman starting in all 11 of the games that he played in and hauling in 38 receptions for 496 yards and 1 TD. North was a top 10 national recruit following his senior season, who is a big strong physical specimen for such a young WR. The second starter is JUCO transfer speedster 6-3 183 junior Von Pearson (Scout 4*). Pearson comes out of JC ball as the #2 overall JC WR who caught 93 passes for 1,601 yards and 12 TDs in 2013 at Feather River CC. With Pearsons speed and Norths size they are a good combination of thunder and lightning that the Aggie defense will have their hands full with come Sunday night. Backing up the duo will be a pair of sophomores in Jason Croom and Josh Smith. At 6-1 200 Josh Smith (Scout 3*) is listed behind Pearson on the two deep. Smith appeared in 11 games and started 4 as a true freshman in 2013 with 12 receptions for 182 yards and 1 TD. Listed behind North is the 6-5 243 Croom (Scout 4*). As a redshirt freshman in 2013 Croom played in 12 games starting 7 of them and recorded 18 receptions for 269 yards and 2 TDs.
Junior Pig Howard (Scout 3*) is going to be a top target for Tennessee QBs in 2014. The 5-8 187 Howard loomed large in 2014 appearing in 11 games and starting 10 of them for the Volunteers. In 2014 Howard pulled in 44 receptions for 388 yards and 3 TDs while also rushing 18 times for 93 yards. Howard also contributed in 10 games during his freshman season with 13 catches for 54 yards and 1 TD while also adding 44 yards on 14 carries. Howard will be a tough cover for Aggie nickelback Devin Centers. Backing up Howard in a player that is being touted as having the most promise of the bunch and that is 6-3 204 true freshman Josh Malone (Scout 4*). Malone comes to Tennessee as a nationally ranked top 10 WR whom the Volunteer coaches are counting on to contribute immediately. Malone pulled in 71 receptions for 1,404 yards and 19 TDs as a high school senior in 2013.
Senior Marlin Lane (Scout 4*) brings wealth of experience to overall a very inexperienced Tennessee offense. Having appeared in 35 games including 6 starts over his three year career at Tennessee thus far Lane is finally going to get fulltime reps as the starter. In 2013 the 5-11 209 Lane carried the ball 101 times for 534 yards and 4 TDs while logging 9 receptions for 50 yards. Lane enjoyed his best season to date as a sophomore when he logged 6 starts and carried the ball 120 times for 658 yards and 2 TDs while also hauling a career best 29 receptions for 228 yards out of the backfield. As a true freshman in 2011 he had a modest 75 carries for 280 yards and 2 TDs and pulled in 17 receptions for 161 yards and 2 TDs. Backing up Lane will be Jalen Hurd (Scout 4*). The 6-3 227 true freshman may keep the Aggie linebackers busy if he lives up to the hype that is surrounding him coming into fall camp. Hurd missed all but 1 game of his senior high school season but if he lives up to the 3,357 yards and 43 TDs that he put up during his junior year of high school in 2012 then the Volunteers may have found something very special in young Jalen Hurd.
Kick return duties have fallen to 5-8 173 senior Devrin Young (Scout 3*) and 5-11 199 true freshman Evan Berry (Scout 4*). Young was on his way to having a solid 2013 season until a broken hand forced him to miss 5 games. While healthy Young played in 7 games and returned 19 kicks for 493 yards for a 25.9 yard average. In 2011 Young enjoyed his best season to date when he was able to return a career high 27 kicks for another career high 628 yards while averaging 23.3 yards per return. Berry is a dynamic athlete who the coaches are dying to find away to get him on the field. Sunday will be Berry's first game as a Volunteer.
Starting cornerback Cameron Sutton (Scout 3*) is going to be the first to get a crack at handling punts for the Volunteers in 2014. Sutton started all 12 games that he appeared in as a true freshman in 2013, but he did not handle any of the punt or kick return duties. The 6-1 190 Sutton is a gifted athlete that is no stranger to having the ball in his hands as he racked up 1,396 all-purpose yards and 19 TDs as a senior in high school. Sutton is definitely a threat with the ball in his hands and the top ranked Aggie coverage team will have their hands full with him. Backing up Sutton is kick returner Devrin Young. Returning punts for the Volunteers is nothing new to Young as he returned 8 punts for 63 yards and a 7.9 yard average in 2013 before being sidelined by a broken hand. Young enjoyed his best season at punt return as a sophomore in 2012 when he returned 16 punts for 155 yards and a 9.7 yard average.