Four Tennessee Freshman Who Could Impact Saturday's Game Against South Carolina
Tennessee just released its first unofficial depth chart of the season. Jeremy Pruitt has stated heading into the opener, "You only get to travel 70 guys, so the 70 that you take need to be able to contribute whether it's on special teams or on defense. We'll play 70 guys on Saturday." Looking at the Vols depth chart, it does not feature many true freshmen, in fact, only Harrison Bailey and Will Albright are the only two to make the cut. However, there are only 53 players listed, which means the Vols have 17 more spots available, and they will likely feature several true freshmen, that should all receive playing time. We take a look at which ones are likely to make an impact on Saturday.
Jalin Hyatt- Hyatt has received a lot of buzz in Tennessee's fall camp, and he has made a lot of noise in fall camp. Hyatt is not listed on the two-deep, but he should see multiple opportunities on Saturday, Some nagging injuries have limited him in practice, but have not caused him to miss time. It all comes down to the fact that Hyatt has world-class speed, and he is a chess piece that Jim Chaney can utilize in multiple ways. He will likely get his first looks in the slot, and Tennessee will hope to get him the ball in stride and utilize his ability to run routes effectively at all three levels. Hyatt is very accustomed to playing at Williams-Brice stadium, and he is ready for a homecoming of sorts. Hyatt will likely be joined by fellow freshman receiver Malachi Wideman, as a player who receives multiple targets on Saturday.
Key Lawrence- Lawrence may be the most naturally gifted player to sign with Tennessee in the 2020 class, and he has bounced all around Tennessee's secondary since arriving on campus. Not for lack of production, simply because of his versatility. Lawrence has played corner, safety, and the money positions, which bodes well for him to get on the field during the Week One contest. Derrick Ansley and Jeremy Pruitt could use him in situational roles defensively, but he is likely to see increased snaps on special teams. Fellow Freshman DB Doneiko Slaughter has also added competition to Tennessee's secondary, and he should see some snaps on Saturday, as well.
Morven Joseph- Tennessee has to find a pass-rush to replace Darrell Taylor this season, and because of that, Morven Joseph cannot be discounted. He has a powerful first step, and he should see some opportunities on Saturday as a situational pass-rusher. Shelton Felton has already noted that the Vols will replace Taylor by "committee," so it seems likely Joseph will get on the field at some point. He will likely see some special teams opportunities, as well. Another Freshman outside linebacker, Tyler Baron, could also see some snaps during Saturday's contest.
Omari Thomas- Jeremy Pruitt has been the biggest critic of Tennessee's defensive line during Fall camp, challenging their effort and demanding more from the veteran group. It is unclear where Thomas stands in the current rotation, however, the Vols need a push up-front, and he is a guy that they can plug-and-play across the defensive front. He should see some snaps for Tennessee during Saturday's action.
The Vols will kickoff at 7:30 ET on the SEC Network.