The 2022 Tennessee football season is quickly approaching, and once again, the Vols will face one of the nation's most rigid schedules. The stout schedule will pit Tennessee against some of the nation's elite talent. In this feature, the Volunteer Country staff dives into the top five offensive players they believe the Vols will face this fall.
No reason not to start with the Heisman Trophy winner, right? Young will look to make another run at the Heisman Trophy, but the focus for Alabama will be avenging their national championship loss to Georgia. To no one's surprise, the Crimson Tide reloaded at the skill position for Young. Young threw for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns last fall. With the addition of transfers Jermaine Burton and Tyler Harrell, the Crimson Tide will have more speed than last year, so Young will have plenty to work with.
The nation's top tight end will just be a sophomore this fall, and the Georgia offense will focus on his success. He is a tremendous mismatch for opposing defenses. Bowers caught 56 passes for 882 yards and 13 touchdowns last season as a freshman. He should get more opportunities this fall as Arik Gilbert joins Georgia's rotation to free Bowers up for more one-on-one situations.
We talked about the receivers that Bryce Young would benefit from, but that explosive passing attack will be even more open because of how teams have to scheme for Gibbs. The Georgia Tech transfer is electric as a pass-catcher as well. Gibbs carried the ball 143 times for 746 yards and four touchdowns last fall. He also caught 36 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee travels to Baton Rouge in October, and the Vols will have their hands full with star-wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. Despite average quarterback play on the Bayou, Boutte has been a tough draw for opposing teams. In his first two seasons at LSU, he hauled 14 touchdown receptions. Brian Kelly will have plenty of options at quarterback this fall to get the ball to the dynamic playmaker.
Richardson is boom or bust in many ways in Gainesville, but the upside he possesses is unmatched. He is a massive quarterback with elite arm strength and nice mobility. If he can refine his accuracy, he has a chance to live up to expectations. There were several other people who could have slotted into this spot, but Richardson's value to Florida cannot be understated. I like his upside in Billy Napier's offense over Will Levis at Kentucky.
Honorable Mention: OT Broderick Jones (Georgia), QB Will Levis (Kentucky) WR Jermaine Burton (Alabama), OL Sedrick Van Pran (Georgia)