Tennessee Football: Projecting Stats for Vols' Top Players in 2012 Season

Daniel Hudson@daniel3417Correspondent IIIJune 18, 2012

Tennessee Football: Projecting Stats for Vols' Top Players in 2012 Season

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    It's been a few years since the Tennessee Volunteers had several players who were poised for big statistical seasons, but this fall, the stars are back. Here are the stats projections for 10 of the Big Orange's top players.

    With as many as six first-round draft picks in the next two NFL drafts, the Vols have legitimate star power that hasn't been seen since before the 2007 SEC East crown.

    These projections are neither the worst nor best-case scenario. They're realistic. Keep that in mind when you see that I don't have Justin Hunter catching 20 touchdowns on 1,800 yards.

Tyler Bray

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    Passing Yards: 3,200 yards

    Touchdowns: 31 TDs

    Interceptions: 11 INTs

    Completion Percentage: 59.1%

    I know at least one local sports personality thinks Tyler Bray is going to have a historic 2012 season.

    Brent Dougherty from Nashville's popular radio show 3HL is on the record with a prediction that Tennessee's junior quarterback will have a 4,000/40 season. As in 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdowns.

    Hey, some people not only bleed orange but see everything in a shade of orange, and there's nothing wrong with that. I think Bray is going to have a dynamite year, but I doubt it's going to be the best in Volunteer history, which a 4,000/40 season would be.

Marlin Lane

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    Rushing Yards: 1,050 yards

    Receiving Yards: 350 yards

    Total Touchdowns: 14 TDs

    With a very young and inexperienced squad of running backs, Marlin Lane will see the vast majority of the carries this fall. His backup is a running back turned wide receiver turned running back, if that helps paint the picture.

    The Vols need a huge improvement from their running game in 2012 if they have hopes of ending their two-year losing record streak. An extremely deep, talented and now veteran group of offensive linemen can only help Lane's stats.

    My projections, though, are tempered by the fact that Lane has yet to find his pre-knee injury self from high school.

Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers and Cordarrelle Patterson

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    Justin Hunter

    Receiving Yards: 850 yards

    Receptions: 40 catches

    TDs: 7 TDs

    This trio of wide receivers might not only be the best in the SEC, but it might be the best in the country. A lot of it depends on Tyler Bray's ability to utilize all the tools effectively and Hunter's progression from his ACL injury last September.

    Indeed, all the reports are good, but I have reservations about how quickly Hunter will be able to locate his breakaway speed.

    Da'Rick Rogers

    Receiving Yards: 1,100 yards

    Receptions: 60 catches

    TDs: 10 TDs

    I believe Bray will do a great job of spreading the ball around and maximizing his receivers' potential, but I think it'll be Rogers who stands out.

    Cordarrelle Patterson

    Receiving Yards: 700

    Receptions: 45

    TDs: 4 TDs

    Two-time JUCO All-American Patterson is more than capable of stepping right into the lineup.

A.J. Johnson, Jacques Smith and Curt Maggitt

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    A.J. Johnson

    Tackles: 90 tackles

    Tackles for a Loss: 10 TFL

    Sacks: 2 sacks

    Coming off an impressive freshman year that led to All-SEC Freshman honors, Johnson should make another step in his progression as a Vol. His size and bulk are well-suited for an inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.

    Jacques Smith

    Tackles:  60 tackles

    Tackles for a Loss: 9 TFL

    Sacks: 5 sacks

    After a strong start to the 2011 season, Smith's production dropped off when the Volunteers started to meet their conference. Now a junior, Smith should realize his full potential as a natural pass-rusher in the 3-4.

    Curt Maggitt

    Tackles: 70 tackles

    Tackles for a Loss: 11 TFL

    Sacks: 3 sacks

    Maggitt's great speed will be on full showcase this fall whenever Tennessee opts to use four linebackers. Also named an All-SEC Freshman, Maggitt's explosiveness should result in a nice combination of tackles and sacks.

Prentiss Waggner and Brian Randolph

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    Prentiss Waggner

    Tackles: 55 tackles

    Passes Defended: 12 PD

    Interceptions: 6 INTs

    I'm extremely excited to watch Prentiss Waggner in 2012 back at cornerback. His consistency and production has been overlooked in three years as a Vol, but an outstanding senior will ensure that's not the case this year.

    Waggner is Tennessee's version of Cal Ripken, too, never missing a game and starting 25 straight since his freshman year.

    Brian Randolph

    Tackles: 65 tackles

    Passes Defended: 7 PD

    Interceptions: 2 INTs

    Besides quarterback, safety might be the most difficult position to take over as a freshman, but Randolph made it look easy. A virtual afterthought from the 2011 recruiting class, no Volunteer improved as much as Randolph did over the course of last season.

    That bodes well for his stats in 2012.