Impact frosh: Matt Milton

This is the 10th in a series of articles profiling true freshmen who could make significant contributions to Tennessee's 2010 football season.

Based on the return of the top two receivers from 2009 - Gerald Jones (46 catches) and Denarius Moore (40) - the Vols appear to be in outstanding shape at wideout for 2010. A closer examination, however, reveals that this is not necessarily the case.

Both Jones and Moore have durability issues. Jones suffered a broken bone in his wrist last summer, then sustained a high-ankle sprain shortly before the 2009 season opener. As a result, he didn't hit his stride until Game 4 of the '09 season.

Moore also had injury woes in 2009. He suffered a broken bone in his foot that caused him to miss preseason camp and record just one reception in Tennessee's first three games.

Thanks to a high level of attrition in recent months, the depth behind Jones and Moore is hardly encouraging. Quintin Hancock and Austin Rogers ran out of eligibility. Brandon Warren ran out of second chances and was dismissed from the team. Todd Campbell ran out of patience and elected to transfer.

Those departures leave the Big Orange with just two veteran backups at the receiver positions. Marsalis Teague is back after catching 13 passes for 147 yards last fall and fellow sophomore Zach Rogers is back after catching three balls for 19 yards.

The alarming lack of depth at wideout means at least a couple of true freshmen will be thrust into the mix this fall. One of them, Da' Rick Rogers of Calhoun, Ga., already has been profiled. Another attractive option among the rookie receivers is Matt Milton. The 6-6, 200-pounder from Mascoutah, Ill., enrolled at mid-term and proved to be one of the pleasant surprises of spring practice.

Milton dropped some balls but the freshman also caught a bunch last March and April. In fact, his 12 receptions in the two major scrimmages and the Orange & White game was the highest total among all Vol players.

Milton was ranked the No. 20 wideout prospect in America by Scout.com last winter, even though he was utilized more as a rusher (1,309 yards and 20 touchdowns) than as a receiver (14 catches for 232 yards as a receiver) during his senior year of high school ball. He made strides in UT's spring practice, however, and appears ready to contribute as a rookie.

Typically, Tennessee doesn't expect a lot of help from freshman receivers. This is not shaping up to be a typical season, however.


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