Three frosh on WR depth chart

Given Tennessee's glut of returning talent at wide receiver, you wouldn't expect three freshmen to make the three-deep roster for Saturday's season opener. But they did.

Another surprise: None of the three is named Slick Shelley. Although he was the most heralded of UT's four wideout signees last February, the 6-4, 180-pounder from Fort Smith, Ark., appears to be the only one who won't suit up for Game 1.

Lucas Taylor will. The 5-10, 168-pound speedster from Carencro, La., is listed No. 2 behind sophomore Robert Meachem at one receiver spot. Austin Rogers, a 6-2, 175-pound rookie from Nashville, is listed No. 3 behind Taylor. Then there is Josh Briscoe, a 6-3, 174-pound freshman from Shelby, N.C., who is listed No. 3 behind senior Chris Hannon and junior Jayson Swain at another wideout spot.

The final receiver position has senior C.J. Fayton listed No. 1, junior Bret Smith No. 2 and sophomore walk-on Casey Woods No. 3.

You're probably wondering: How did three freshmen and a walk-on land spots on UT's wide receiver depth chart? The old-fashioned way: They earned it.

Taylor caught five passes in the Vols' three preseason scrimmages, parlaying these into 136 yards (27.2 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Showing a home-run dimension UT has lacked in recent years, Taylor scored his TDs on plays covering 69 and 41 yards.

Briscoe was almost as impressive – and a tad more productive -- in the preseason scrimmages, recording 150 yards on nine receptions. That's an average of 16.7 yards per catch.

Rogers caught just two passes for 12 yards in the scrimmages but is also a candidate for kickoff and punt return duty, increasing his value considerably.

Woods, a 6-5, 219-pounder from Starkville, Miss., followed up a two-touchdown performance in the Orange & White game with a strong preseason. A solid possession receiver, he caught five passes for 40 yards and a TD in the three major scrimmages. The former prep quarterback also serves as holder for placements.

Here are the three-scrimmage receiving totals for the other wideouts:

Bret Smith 14 catches, 205 yards (14.6 per catch)

Robert Meachem 6 catches, 130 yards (21.7 per catch)

Slick Shelley 3 catches, 54 yards (18.0 per catch)

Bill Grimes 3 catches 37 yards (12.3 per catch)

C.J. Fayton 3 catches, 33 yards (11.0 per catch)

Chris Hannon 4 catches, 22 yards (5.5 per catch)

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