Tennessee's veteran receivers Cedric Tillman and Velus Jones have both called Josh Heupel's offensive system "a receiver's dream." Now, they are getting to experience it fully, and Josh Heupel has had his eyes on the receiver spot this spring.
"I think for us, the ability to play with tempo, for those guys to be put in a position where we're going to try to find ways to isolate them in a one-on-one position and then give them the tools to go win," Heupel said of why receivers would believe the system is a dream. "I think at the end of the day, as a wideout, that's what you're looking for. The tempo we play, the number of snaps we get, the number of ball in hand opportunities that our skill players have, I think you put all of that together, plus the energy with which we play on game day and even on the practice field, I think it is a really unique offense for skill players and wide receivers to play in, and something they can absolutely flourish in."
So, early on, who has Heupel noticed as standouts in the position group? He detailed that on Friday during his press conference.
"I think we're going to continue to grow and develop depth out there. Cedric Tillman has done a fantastic job of just being really purposeful in his work habits on the practice field," Heupel said. "He's playing faster as he's getting more comfortable from day one to day five. Velus Jones (Jr.) has done a tremendous job. He's a really strong competitor and brings a great amount of leadership to that wide receiver group every day in the meeting rooms, and that's transitioned onto the practice field as well. Jimmy Calloway is having a good spring and a good start here. He's a guy that is learning how to play with technique and with what we're asking him to do. He's getting better every day, but has the opportunity to extend the field and really make some plays down the field. I would never use the word 'satisfied' or 'completely happy' with any position when you're five days into spring ball, but I like the purpose that those guys are playing with, and they're starting to trust in what we're doing. They're starting to play with better technique which will give them the opportunity to go win down the football field. They've created some big plays in the passing game."
Jalin Hyatt and Malachi Wideman have both been sidelined early on this spring with minor injuries but could return after the Easter break. Ramel Keyton has returned to the group, while newcomers Andison Coby and Walker Merrill are working their way into the group.