Tennessee Volunteers Football: Updating the Two-Deep Depth Chart
The Tennessee Volunteers are 80 days away from their 7:30 kickoff in the Georgia Dome against NC State to begin the 2012 college football season! Who can you expect to see getting the most playing time on both sides of the ball? Here's their two-deep depth chart.
Of course, nothing is ever final until the freshmen and JUCO transfers get a chance to practice alongside the returning Vols, but I've done my best to include the ones that are most likely to vie for playing time (ever heard of Cordarelle Patterson).
But if there's any one reason that I can give for why I collected this list of 2012 Vols, it's that reading about the upcoming starters and their back-ups is one way I get ready for the season. Hopefully that's your thing, too.
No. 1 - Tyler Bray
No. 2 - Justin Worley
Hardly any surprise here with Bray entering a pivotal junior season and coming off his strongest all-around spring practice session.
Freshman Nathan Peterman will push Worley to keep his game up but he should keep the job without too much of a problem.
No. 1 - Marlin Lane
No. 2 - Raijon Neal
Lane has this job unless he gets hurt. The Vols lack both depth and talent at the tailback position beyond him, so this is his time to shine. The fact that Neal is the only decent answer as the back-up is proof enough.
No. 1 - Ben Bartholomew
No. 2 - Brendan Downs?
Now that Channing Fugate has gone the way of Austin Johnson and switched from fullback to linebacker (let's hope it yields the same result), only Downs remains as a viable option behind the trusty Bartholomew.
No. 1 - Justin Hunter
No. 2 - Da'Rick Rogers
No. 3 - Cordarelle Patterson
If Tennessee starts each game with a tight end on the field, Patterson will technically not be a starter, but he'll see plenty of playing time. If Hunter can come back at 100 percent, it could be a lethal air assault.
No. 1 - Mychal Rivera
No. 2 - Brendan Downs
Rivera had a disappointing year in 2011 coming off a strong 2010. The Vols are hoping his senior year will finally see him breakout.
Now that Cam Clear has been kicked off the team, the talented sophomore Downs will have even more playing time in reserve of Rivera.
From Left Tackle to Right Tackle
The two-deep depth chart of the offensive line is full of James Stone, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder and Kyler Kerbyson in various positions, and there's still debate as to who's ahead of whom, so let's just leave it open.
This group of highly experienced juniors and seniors, plus Tiny Richardson, should compete for the best in the SEC. Last year was a huge letdown, but we've all heard of the sophomore slump.
There is a ton of talent on the bench with Stone (should be the center) and Jackson each boasting significant playing time in their careers as Volunteers. Their experience will help keep the starters fresh.
From Left End to Right End
The defensive line is very weak. The back-ups for these three include Darrington Sentimore, who had a lackluster spring, big Daniel McCullers and a slew of linebacker/defensive end types.
The introduction of the 3-4 defense throws a wrench in your typical two-deep chart because the Volunteers are still likely to play plenty of 4-3 in 2012.
Just remember that this group needs to dig down deep if Tennessee has hopes of eight or nine wins.
No. 1 - Jacques Smith/Herman Lathers
No. 2 - Jordan Williams/John Propst
I wish the Vols' coaching staff would put Curt Maggitt on the outside and move Lathers inside but so be it. I just have dreams of Smith and Maggitt roaring around the outside and sacking the quarterback at exactly the same time...
No. 1 - A.J. Johnson/Curt Maggitt
No. 2 - Channing Fugate/Willie Bohannon
The two All-SEC Freshmen will man the middle of the linebackers in 2012. Bohannon could end up being the super-backup, perhaps seeing time at inside and outside linebacker, defensive end and even defensive tackle in the 4-3;
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No. 1 - Prentiss Waggner/Justin Coleman
No. 2 - Marsalis Teague/Eric Gordon
With the ineligibility of Izauea Lanier, Coleman got the promotion to cornerback opposite Waggner. That leaves an open battle for both back-up roles, which will feature veterans Teague and Gordon but will also introduce newcomers LaDarrell McNeil and Deion Bonner.
No. 1 - Brian Randolph/Brent Brewer
No. 2 - Rod Wilks/Byron Moore
I rode Randolph all year in 2011, but he improved more than any player on the Vols' roster. His efforts earned him All-SEC Freshman honors.
Brewer is a huge question mark after coming off a knee injury and struggling with weight issues. He's back where he belongs but needs to find his mojo so Tennessee doesn't have to resort to the so-so back-ups.
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No. 1 - Matt Darr
No. 2 - ______ Colquitt
Matt Darr has this job even with his struggles from last year. I've ripped him enough, so let's hope for a big turnaround. And no, there is no Colquitt on the roster, but I can dream, can't I?
No. 1 - Michael Palardy
No. 2 - George Bullock
Palardy is so bad. What happened between high school and college for him besides the typical 10 pounds? He was one of the highest-rated kickers! Step it up, Palardy, or Knoxville-native Bullock could get the call.
No. 1 - Devrin Young
No. 2 - Marlin Lane
Let's face it, Young was brought in solely to return kicks and punts. His burst of speed wasn't even close to what it needed to be last year, though. A year to grow, study and train should do him well.