We start this week's Monday Mailbag with a nod to Tennessee's new tight ends coach hiring. Butch Jones brought in former Miami interim head coach Larry Scott to take over for the departing Mark Elder, who is headed to become the head coach at Eastern Kentucky, and it's hard to think of a better hire. Scott has deep ties to Florida and helped make USF a legitmate Big East contender by hauling in some of the Bulls' best classes in program history. Miami desperately wanted to keep Scott, and Jones was able to poach him from those fertile South Florida recruiting grounds to head to Knoxville. This beat writer gives it an A+.
Other than Cam Sutton, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and possibly Alvin Kamara, are there any other UT juniors submitting draft paperwork (and actually, did Kamara do it?) — cherokee04
Right now, those are the only three players who have been confirmed to send in their paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board. Alvin Kamara did indeed submit his paperwork, and the three will receive a grade from the board on where they are projected before deciding if they want to stick around for another year or (hopefully) head to the NFL. Now if you had asked me who would be the most detrimental to lose out of those three players (and you didnt, because you don't care what I think), I'd have to say right now it's JRM. Any time you lose an All-SEC caliber linebacker playing alongside a freshman in a mostly 4-2-5 formation, it's a tough blow. Darrin Kirkland Jr. has solidified himself as the starting MIKE for a seemingly long time, but it's tough to think of who could come in to Reeves-Maybin's spot as the second linebacker and come anywhere near close to the production Tennessee got from junior this season, although all three would be tough pills to swallow if they left.
What was the most fun bowl event? — James K.
Well, James, they were all really awesome, especially since it wasn't 30 degrees and snowing in Tampa. Cold weather is worse than a house fire. At least house fires are warm. The players seemed to really enjoy all of them, but I would have to say the most fun was the Tampa Bay Lightning-Montreal Canadiens game at Amalie Arena. It was my first NHL experience and, although there wasn't a single fight, I still marveled at the athleticism it takes to hit something so hard while balancing on ice. The arena also had lightning shoot out of a machine hanging from the rafters, which puts any college football tradition I can think of to shame. REAL LIGHTNING. Okay, maybe it wasn't real, but it looked real and that counts. We also got to watch Alvin Kamara on the ice wearing a Tennesee hockey jersey and a "Local Trap Star" hat. Couldn't tell if the septum piercing was in or not. That guy is my media MVP.
Was there a reason why Jarrett Guarantano struggled so much in the Under Armour All-America Bowl? — Thomas Farragut
There can be a multitude of reasons why a quarterback struggles in an all-star even like the Under Armour All-America Bowl, and I think Guarantano was a victim of a handful of them. For starters, he was on the run quite a bit behind an offensive line that had lots of trouble stopping the best high school defensive linemen in the country, including Scout's No. 1 overall prospect, Rashan Gary. It's also extremely tough to build a rhythm when you're being taken out and inserted back in throughout the course of a game. Chemistry is key, and sometimes it's impossible to garner when your wide receivers are constantly changing and you don't get extended snaps. Moreover, sometimes you just have a bad day, and Guarantano was the first to say he was extremely disappointed in how he played. I wouldn't worry too much, though. The Scout four-star QB won the Skills Challenge during the practice week and has proven himself as a star under center. Sometimes you just don't have your best stuff.
How serious was Cam Sutton's injury and will that affect his decision? — Reaganvol
Cam Sutton suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for much of the Outback Bowl. Instead of breaking up passes, Sutton was reduced to riding a stationary bike and joining the defensive huddle as a de facto coach. Butch Jones didn't specify how serious Sutton's injury was, saying he'd know more at the beginning of spring practice. I doubt a hamstring injury would affect Sutton's decision to stay at Tennessee an extra year, and he's continually being graded as a first or second round pick by many mock drafts.