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Tennessee Football: Predicting the Two-Deep Depth Chart

Daniel HudsonCorrespondent IIIOctober 8, 2016

Tennessee Football: Predicting the Two-Deep Depth Chart

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    As we head into Tennessee spring practice, which begins March 26th, there are a few positions that are still up for grabs on the two-deep depth chart, though not too many.

    That most positions have been decided before spring practice is a refreshing sign for the Vols, who have struggled with youth and inconsistency for the past few years.

    The comprehensive two-deep depth chart is as follows.

Quarterback

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    Starter: Tyler Bray

    Backup: Justin Worley

    No surprises here. Tyler Bray showed his superior arm strength last year. Justin Worley filled in admirably when Bray went down with a broken thumb.

Running Back

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    Tailback starter: Marlin Lane

    Backup: Jaron Toney

    Fullback starter: Ben Bartholomew

    Backup: Channing Fugate

    The tailback position is incredibly thin once again. The only player who had more than 31 carries last year is Marlin Lane, who will be relied on to lead the way.

    Channing Fugate might be a more explosive running and pass-catching fullback, but Ben Bartholomew's terrific blocking earned him the starting nod at the end of the 2011 season.

Wide Receiver

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    1A WR starter: Justin Hunter

    BackupCordarelle Patterson

    1B WR starter: Da'Rick Rogers

    BackupRajion Neal

    TE starterMychal Rivera

    BackupCameron Clear

    The depth chart is for a two-receiver, one-tight end set, though Tennessee is likely to use several offensive sets with three wide receivers this fall. In those instances, Cordarrelle Patterson will be the first option at the slot spot.

    Because he was able to escape injury, Da'Rick Rogers showed his incredible talent last year.

    And yes, the "1A" and "1B" titles are completely intentional.

Offensive Line

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    LT starterDallas Thomas

    BackupAntonio Richardson

    LG starterAlex Bullard

    BackupMarcus Jackson

    Center starterJames Stone**

    BackupMack Crowder

    RG starterZach Fulton

    BackupJerQuari Schofield

    RT starterJa'Wuan James

    BackupKyler Kerbyson

    The offensive line is intact for a third straight year. They had a bad 2011 season, but I expect to see them bounce back and resemble their 2010 selves, plus two years of experience.

    For the most part, the backups are interchangeable, especially on the interior of the offensive line. I decided to list a different player for each position because reading Marcus Jackson's name three times doesn't sound like too much fun.

    **Note: I am the president of the movement to reinsert James Stone at center.

     





Defensive Line

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    RE starterMarlon Walls

    Backup: Corey Miller

    NT starterDaniel McCullers

    BackupAllan Carson

    LE starterMaurice Couch

    BackupDaniel Hood

    The Volunteers are likely to make the switch to the 3-4 defense with new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and the kind of linemen and linebackers they have.

    In the 3-4, a huge nose tackle is necessary to anchor the front seven. At 380 pounds, JUCO transfer Daniel McCullers fits the bill perfectly.

    The ends in the 3-4 are typically undersized 4-3 defensive tackles.

Linebacker

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    Right OLB starter: Curt Maggitt

    Backup: Jordan Williams

    Right ILB starter: Herman Lathers

    Backup: Greg King

    Left ILB starterA.J. Johnson

    BackupJohn Propst

    Left OLB starter: Jacques Smith

    Backup: Willie Bohannon

    The extra linebacker in the 3-4 defense will prove invaluable for the Vols. The team is loaded with great talent at that position.

    Small 4-3 defensive ends like Jacques Smith and Willie Bohannon are perfect outside linebackers in a 3-4. Smith's and freshman All-American Curt Maggitt's speed off the edge is something to watch for.

    The inside is manned by A.J. Johnson, another freshman All-American, and Herman Lathers, a veteran returning from an injury that sidelined him all of 2011.

Defensive Backs

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    RCB starter: Prentiss Waggner

    BackupJustin Coleman

    SS starter: Brent Brewer

    BackupRodriguez Wilks

    FS starter: Brian Randolph

    Backup: Byron Moore

    LCB starterIzauea Lanier

    Backup: Marsalis Teague

    The emergence of freshman All-American Brian Randolph allowed Prentiss Waggner to move back to his natural cornerback position, which is exactly what the Tennessee Volunteers wanted.

    The Big Orange have plenty of depth in the secondary. They just need to prove they're as good as they were supposed to be coming out of high school and junior college.

Special Teams

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    Kicker starter: Michael Palardy

    Backup: George Bullock

    Punter starter: Matt Darr

    BackupGeorge Bullock

    Kick returner starter: Devrin Young

    BackupMarlin Lane

    Punt returner starterDevrin Young

    Backup: Rajion Neal

    The special teams will be manned by a familiar group—for better or for worse.

    George Bullock, the recently signed kicking and punting standout, waits in the wings if Michael Palardy or Matt Darr show signs that they haven't improved.

    Devrin Young will get another shot to prove his play-making ability as the premier return man.

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