Tennessee Presents Summer Awards to Players Following Unprecedented Offseason
Volunteer Country Staff
The University of Tennessee’s football program offered praise to six players for their hard work throughout the unprecedentedly difficult off-season on Tuesday afternoon. The Volunteers awarded Jerome Carvin, Eric Gray, Jaylen McCollough, Keshawn Lawrence, Alontae Taylor, and Josh Palmer with the 2020 “Work Horse” Awards — which is presented by the program’s strength and conditioning department.
According to a statement released by the program through a tweet, the Vols awarded the leadership award to rising senior wide-receiver Josh Palmer — who will be forced to fill big shoes vacated by Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, both of whom are now playing on Sundays. Palmer, a native of Canada, was joined by cornerback Alontae Taylor in earning the leadership award.
Taylor, similarly to Palmer, will be forced to take more of a leadership role on the defensive side of the ball following multiple key departures. Linebacker Daniel Bituli, edge-rusher Darrell Taylor, and safety Nigel Warrior — who were all vocal in the locker room — are now playing in the NFL, leaving Taylor to fill not only the talent void, but also the leadership void left by the three.
Newcomers were also not excluded from the list, as freshman Keshawn Lawrence was awarded with the freshman portion of the work horse awards. Lawrence, who was one of the Vols’ highest rated prospects during the class of 2020, will likely be an early contributor for Tennessee on Rocky Top.
Veteran offensive lineman Jerome Carvin was also awarded with the “Tank” award, despite not being projected starter upfront along the offensive line — hinting that the Vols could have even more depth than some people expected at the position. Carvin is joined by former 5-star recruits Trey Smith, Cade Mays, Wanya Morris, and Darnell Wright at the position, in addition to 6th year senior Brandon Kennedy.
Sophomore duo Eric Gray and Jaylen McCollough were also awarded with honors — Gray winning the “Bomber” award and McCollough winning the “Jet” award. Gray is coming off of a strong finish to the 2019 season after having breakout games against Vanderbilt and Indiana, earning the MVP Award from the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. McCollough looks to capitalize off of a less competitive depth chart after not seeing much action — to the surprise of many fans and analysts — last season.
The season for Tennessee is currently expected to start in late September with a 10-game conference schedule. The winners of the two divisions will then face-off in the SEC Championship Game in December; however, with the recent cancellations from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, it is certainly possible that the conference will be forced to cancel their season for the first time in over 100 years.