There's plenty of talent on the Tennessee football roster now that coach Butch Jones has used three full recruiting cycles to outfit the Volunteers with star power, and much of those are freshmen and sophomores.
So, while the 2016 UT football team will be the first one in several years to feature veteran starters all over the field, that doesn't mean the underclassmen will be reduced to spectator roles. When you are forced to play so early in your career the way many Vols have recently, you can be young and a veteran at the same time.
From the bookends of the offensive line to the interior in the other trench, Tennessee will play a lot of first- and second-year players in key roles in what the Vols expect will be their best team in years.
That bodes well for the future as well as the present.
When you've signed such huge, star-studded classes as Jones has during the past three classes, things get crowded at the top. Not everybody can be one of the 22 players who trot out there to start the game.
The Vols should be really good, and they aren't shying away from it.
"We're not gonna hide from these expectations," Jones told the crowd on the first leg of Tennessee’s statewide recruiting celebration tour, according to GoVols247's Wes Rucker. "This is what we expect, and this is what we work for. We're Tennessee."
But which underclassmen have the best chances to start?
While a player like Jauan Jennings could see his chance to start get delayed by a position switch if he moves from receiver to safety, someone like redshirt freshman Vincent Perry has several upperclassmen that he must usurp. Those young guys are talented, but they may not be the first guys out there in the first game.
Whether they've had starting experience already, their paths have been cleared by players who've exhausted their eligibility, or they're simply too talented to keep off the field, a few young Vols should seize the spotlight this year.