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Tennessee Football: Projecting Vols' 2014 Depth Chart on Offense

Daniel HudsonCorrespondent IIIFebruary 9, 2014

Tennessee Football: Projecting Vols' 2014 Depth Chart on Offense

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    Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

    The Tennessee Volunteers 2014 offense is going to be young but very talented. Losing the entire offensive line and the primary running back isn't the best way to start an offseason, but that's the reality, and you won't hear Butch Jones using it as an excuse.

    It's time to take an early look at the two-deep depth chart.

    This fall could be as tough as 2013. Tennessee is looking at five to seven wins, the latter of which would make the 2014 campaign a success. The Vols are 16 years removed from 1998. The incoming freshmen were two years old when Tennessee won the national championship. Lamenting the fact that a bowl trip would make this season a success is living in the past and failing to see reality.

    Luckily, Tennessee has the right guy at the helm to return the program to its winning ways. His offense will go through growing pains, but you'll see flashes of brilliance from the talent on the field.

Quarterback

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    First string: Justin Worley

    Second string: Josh Dobbs

    The Tennessee quarterback position is wide open. There's plenty of talent and potential but not a lot of experience or on-field success. Worley gets the edge because he's the senior and has started to establish himself as the team leader this spring.

    All but one of the four scholarship quarterbacks started at least one game last year, so if the starter is still up in the air, the backup is a total unknown. There's going to be a lot of chatter for Riley Ferguson—the only quarterback who didn't have a chance to screw up last year.

    I implore you to curb your enthusiasm and remember what happened at Florida with Nathan Peterman. Dobbs gets the nod because of experience.

Running Back

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    First string: Marlin Lane/Jalen Hurd

    Second string: Derrell Scott/Alden Hill

    The experience is with Lane and Hill, but the talent and future of the program is with Hurd and Scott. I hate when writers hedge their bets by naming eight guys as possibilities for one position, but the way Butch Jones is putting together the offense, there is going to be a lot of rotating in the backfield, so I had to.

    Lane has been a so-so back his entire Volunteer career. He's shifty and can get on a roll but isn't reliable. The 6'3", 227-pound true freshman Hurd could be sensational and may be the starter a few games into the season. He brings a completely different look as a running back.

    For reference, he's taller and heavier than Darren McFadden, who is 6'1", 218 pounds.

Wide Receiver

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    Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    First string: Marquez North, Lavon Pearson, Pig Howard

    Second string: Jason Croom, Josh Malone, Devrin Young

    Like running back, the wide receiver position features an incredible amount of talent and potential. I expect the Vols to line up with two prototypical receivers—North and Pearson—and one slot guyHoward.

    Pearson has superstar potential. His skills and JUCO background could draw comparisons to Cordarrelle Patterson. He was brought in to give the quarterbacks a viable option opposite North, since Croom struggled in that role last fall.

    Malone is going to be hard to keep off the field, too. He's just a freshman but comes in with more accolades than North did last year.

Tight End

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    First string: Brendan Downs

    Second string: Daniel Helm

    Are you starting to see a trend? There's a lot of unproven talent all over the offense, and tight end is no exception. Downs is a senior this fall, and with an entirely new offensive line, he has the inside track to start and provide some leadership up front.

    Mixing in with him could be anyone from A.J. Branisel or Woody Quinn to Ethan Wolf or Helm, whom I've selected. He's the most talented of the bunch, including Downs, and is an early enrollee.

Tackle

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    Credit: 247Sports

    First string: Kyler Kerbyson, Dontavius Blair

    Second string: Austin Sanders, Ray Raulerson

    Losing Antonio Richardson and Ja'Wuan James hurts. Though the 2013 offensive line was the subject of much criticism because of its combination of skill and experience, you knew you could pencil in the bookend tackles each Saturday.

    Kerbyson has been the backup for both tackle spots for a couple of years now and is primed to step up. JUCO signee Blair brought his 6'8", 300-pound body to Knoxville at the perfect time. Sanders could mix in when one of the starters needs a breather, and the second backup is a total unknown.

    Raulerson is there, but so are Brett Kendrick, Dylan Wiesman (if he's not starting elsewhere) and Coleman Thomas.

Guard

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    Credit: 247Sports

    First string: Marcus Jackson, Dylan Wiesman

    Second string: Coleman Thomas, Charles Mosley

    Jackson is a no-brainer here since he has starting experience. Wiesman was one of the up men in punt formations last year, and he's a classic in-the-trenches kind of guy.

    The backups? Yet again, a tossup. There is always a lot of shuffling on the offensive line, as many players can play several positions. Austin Sanders could put in some work at guard, but the two players with the best physique for the job are true freshmen Thomas and Mosley.

Center

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    Credit: 247Sports

    First string: Mack Crowder

    Second string: Coleman Thomas

    Crowder has been the presumed successor to James Stone for a few years now. If he goes down at any point this season, the best course of action would be to move Marcus Jackson over from guard and plug in Thomas, Austin Sanders or another player there.

    For now, Thomas gets another backup job.

Offensive Summary

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    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    Offensive Summary

    Quarterback: (1) Justin Worley, (2) Josh Dobbs

    Running back: (1) Marlin Lane, (2) Jalen Hurd

    Wide receiver No. 1: (1) Marquez North, (2) Jason Croom

    Wide receiver No. 2: (1) Lavon Pearson, (2) Josh Malone

    Wide receiver No. 3: (1) Pig Howard, (2) Devrin Young

    Tight end: (1) Brendan Downs, (2) Daniel Helm

    Offensive tackle: (1) Kyler Kerbyson, (2) Austin Sanders

    Offensive tackle: (1) Dontavius Blair, (2) Ray Raulerson

    Offensive guard: (1) Marcus Jackson, (2) Coleman Thomas

    Offensive guard: (1) Dylan Wiesman, (2) Charles Mosley

    Center: (1) Mack Crowder, (2) Coleman Thomas

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