The Monday Mailbag

You know the drill. You ask the questions, we answer them, you smile and nod your head.

Today's mailbag is dedicated to our colleague and friend Randy Moore. Randy was an eloquent writer, wealth of knowledge and gentleman until the end. He's missed every day.

Is Jauan Jennings more of a raw talent (tons of athletic ability) but we won't see him play much this season, or is he polished enough that he is ready to play? — cherokee04

Butch Jones was asked a similar question after Saturday's practice and gave a pretty emphatic answer. It's a inquiry everyone wants to know the answer to. With so much fall camp hype surrounding Jennings' development at wide out, what are the realistic expectations for him heading into the regular season? The answer to that question might excite you almost as much as hearing the familiar notes of College Gameday through your TV screen in two short weeks. Jones essentially said he expects Jennings to make an impact this season at wide receiver and that his freshman has really exceeded the expectations of the coaching staff. When it comes to Jennings, the athletic ability to play the position is there. He's got the size at 6-foot-3, 201 pounds, he's got the blazing speed and he's simply a freak of nature athletically. But the former quarterback has also begun to grasp the technique of a wide receiver, and that's what makes him really scary. I expect Jennings to make some serious noise this season in a crowded and talented receiving corps, and I pray to Mike Leach we'll get to see him throw a pass off a quadruple reverse in the red zone.

Do you expect a surprise starter in Game One at any position? — novol

Unfortunately I'll have to give the vanilla ice cream answer and say no at the moment. Every starting spot, even the competitive units like middle linebacker and offensive line, have a general sense of contenders who we've discussed at length over the course of fall camp. It really wouldn't be surprising to me, but maybe seeing Jack Jones start at right guard against Bowling Green is a possibility that might turn some heads. Perhaps Trevor Daniel locking down the starting punter role over a scholarship freshman All-American and a Maryland transfer with FBS experience would shock a few. But other than that, I think the same people you've speculated about since June will be on the field when foot meets leather Sept. 5. The biggest surprise of the day will be if I refuse seconds of whatever they're serving in the press box.

Updates on the QB situation? New recruits, not Josh Dobbs. — VolFanByMarriage

Funny you mention that, because as you may know now, Tennessee just landed an extremely talented class of 2017 quarterback in Hunter Johnson. Johnson, an Indiana native who passed on a Notre Dame offer to commit to Tennessee, is the No. 1-ranked QB in the Midwest Region and joins class of 2016 Scout four-star Jarrett Guarantano as the Vols' second high-profile QB pledge this year. So basically, it's a damn good situation to be in if you're a Tennessee fan. Johnson brings an invaluable pocket presence, lightning-quick release and big arm strength under center. Guarantano also has a nice arm with extremely good accuracy and can beat you with his legs when he needs to do so. Many Vol fans panicked when Johnson committed Sunday, thinking Guarantano might choose to play somewhere else, but the New Jersey native told both NorthJersey.com and ESPN that he is still planning to attend Tennessee and that nothing has changed in his recruitment process. Couple those two with Scout four-star Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones, who are both freshmen on the roster right now, and Tennessee has its most desirable quarterback depth possibly ever if things stay as they currently are.

In your opinion, who will have the higher yards per carry average this season, Hurd or Kamara? — sday69

This is like asking me to choose between pizza and bacon. Luckily you can put bacon ON pizza and it's totally socially acceptable. This is why I love America. Having Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara in the backfield is much the same. They are the perfect complement to each other and undoubtedly give the Vols one of the best backfields in the SEC. This question is tricky, and I'll give an unconventional answer. Hurd is the powerful force, the guy with speed who has no qualms about lowering his shoulder and busting a linebacker in the mouth. Kamara is bottled lightning. If he gets the edge, it's usually pointless to even try catching him. Hurd is the starting running back and will receive more carries, but because of Kamara's big play ability and the fact that I think Hurd will get more goal line touches, I'll say Kamara averages more yards per carry but Hurd has more touchdowns.

With RaShaan Gaulden out, Justin Martin is the next man up. But does he play outside cornerback and Cam Sutton moves to nickelback or does Martin play nickelback? — Greg Amsler

I think you'll see Cam Sutton slide inside to become the nickelback when Tennessee plays with five defensive backs, with Martin snagging the other corner spot. There are plenty of nickel options including the two we mentioned and Malik Foreman and Micah Abernathy, but conventional wisdom to me dictates Sutton appears as the nickel and Martin stays outside.

Thanks for the questions, everyone. If you have a question for next week, email cory.a.gunkel@gmail.com, tweet @CoryGunkel, post on the InsideTennessee message boards or yell really loudly.


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