The 2013 season is a season of change on Rocky Top, with head coach Butch Jones coming over from Cincinnati to kickstart the stagnant Tennessee football program.
There's just one problem, though. There aren't many established playmakers outside to help run Jones' spread attack.
Enter true freshman Marquez North.
The 6'4", 215-pound native of Charlotte, N.C. was one of the stars of the Vols' 2013 recruiting class. Rated as a 4-star prospect by 247 Sports, North totaled 1,004 yards and scored 25 touchdowns for Mallard Creek High School last season.
Now in Knoxville, he has impressed the coaching staff since the start of fall camp, according to Jones.
In three very short practices, and in a very small time, (Marquez) has proven he is going to be one of our play makers. He is dynamic, he is strong, he is physical, he can run, and we need him offensively. What you see is when your players bring him up, it is a level of respect right now that they have for him. He is extremely intelligent; he knows every single receiver position on the field already. We are very excited about him.
That's some rather lofty praise for a freshman, but is isn't just coach speak. Wes Rucker of 247 Sports mentioned what North's impact will be on Wednesday.
Rucker (@wesrucker247) August 7, 2013
North's hot start to fall camp is huge for the Vols, who are desperate to find a playmaker outside.
Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter are gone, and North's ability to be a threat in the passing game and the running game essentially make him a Patterson clone.
He boasts 4.41 speed in the 40-yard dash, has good hands, runs crisp routes and can present matchup nightmares to shorter defensive backs.
North's inexperience suggests that he's been catching passes from a variety of quarterbacks, since the Vols currently boast a four-man battle featuring junior Justin Worley, redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.
The Vols are going to be stout in the running game with a veteran offensive line and an underrated group of backs led by Rajion Neal. If North can pose a threat downfield, it will open up the entire offense for whoever wins the job at quarterback.
If you're looking for a breakout star this year in the SEC, look no further than Marquez North.
He has the talent to be a superstar, a system that loves to get the ball outside to playmakers in space and a depth chart that is wide open at his position.
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