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Are Vols newcomers contributing?

Just how much did Tennessee use some of its newcomers in the season opener? Find out.

Tennessee coaches spoke at length the entire month of August about how depth is at an all-time high on The Hill as far as this staff is concern.

Butch Jones and his assistants detailed how a Derek Barnett, a Todd Kelly Jr. or a Josh Malone can come off the field or sit out a series without there being a major drop-off, leaving the most vital pieces fresh for the crucial minutes of the game in the second half.

Those sentiments didn't come to fruition in the Vols' season-opening 20-13 overtime win over Appalachian State — even with an extra series of offense or defense — only five newcomers from the 2016 signing class took the field.

"The biggest challenge is for our younger players to understand that the habits they develop in practice are the habits that they're going to have in the game," Jones said.

It could be a lack of trust, it could be a smaller number of players that was able to enroll in January or something else. Either way, the rookies didn't contribute much. In fact, none of the five saw extensive action and a majority played only on special teams.

"For our true freshmen and younger players, they have to understand how to invest in victory each and every day," Jones said.

It remains to be seen if Jones & Co. will tap deeper into the rookie pool as the season progresses. InsideTennessee will keep an eye out to see if the velvet comes off of more newbies when Tennessee takes on Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol on Saturday night at 8 Eastern.

Here's a look at the five who did get their feet wet Thursday:

Baylen Buchanan

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Tyler Byrd

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Jonathan Kongbo

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Marquill Osborne

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Nigel Warrior

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