When the 2016 rendition of the Tennessee football spring practice starts on March 7, it may finally help turn the page on a chapter of the offseason that has, thus far, been forgettable.
It also will be the first real chance to get back to football after so many off-the-field distractions. It appears UT will approach the practices with a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.
Senior outside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin told the Tennessean's Matt Slovin when addressing the culture around the program: "You can't listen to what people say. We've got to focus on us."
There are plenty of positive distractions from which the Vols should avert their eyes from as well. They are going to be picked high in the polls after surging toward the end of '15 and making continuous steps forward during coach Butch Jones' first three years in Knoxville.
They have to block out all that hype and focus on improving. For several of the Vols, the sessions during March and April are pivotal to the immediate and future facets of their careers on Rocky Top.
Unlike the past few years, most of the starting spots are fairly secured. UT is deep and talented and should be exciting at many positions. But that doesn't mean there aren't spots to be won.
Talent breeds competition, and the Vols have a lot of it after Jones restocked the shelves the past few years. Especially on defense, new coordinator Bob Shoop will be holding open auditions with a clean slate. Playmakers are needed, and there are several areas where the depth chart isn't solidified.
Lots of Vols have opportunities.
This group doesn't even mention guys such as redshirt freshman defensive end Darrell Taylor, sophomore defensive back Micah Abernathy, freshman defensive back Marquill Osborne, sophomore athlete Jauan Jennings and redshirt freshman receiver Vincent Perry, who all could earn key reps.
That just shows you the depth of players who have the chance for big things with big springs.
Let's take a look at eight Vols who have the most to gain during spring drills.