After going 5-7 in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as the program’s head football coach, the Tennessee Vols are hoping to take a few steps forward in 2019.

If that’s going to happen, the Vols will need some of their veteran players to step up in a big way.

Fortunately for Tennessee, there appears to be a couple of players who are doing just that during spring practice.

Tennessee recently held a scrimmage that was closed to the media, but VolQuest’s Austin Price was able to report on Monday that a couple of players “turned some heads” during the scrimmage.

This is absolutely fantastic news for the Vols, and I don’t say that to overexcite UT fans.

I think in order for Tennessee to be successful in 2019, they’re going to need to get a lot of production from the tight end position. Dominick Wood-Anderson, a JuCo transfer who will be a senior in 2019, has NFL talent. But the California native only caught 17 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns last season.

Those numbers should improve a lot with Jim Chaney serving as UT’s offensive coordinator.

Georgia Bulldogs tight end Isaac Nauta caught 30 passes for 430 yards with Chaney calling plays in Athens last season. In 2012, with Chaney serving as the Vols’ offensive coordinator, tight end Mychal Rivera caught 36 passes for 562 yards (and he was the third option in the passing game, just ahead of wide receiver Zach Rogers who caught 32 passes).

Now, obviously Georgia last season and Tennessee in 2012 had better quarterback situations than the 2019 Vols will have. But I don’t think folks should underestimate Jarrett Guarantano too much. He’s received plenty of praise from Pruitt this spring, which is highly unusual. Pruitt typically glosses over questions about specific players, but he hasn’t been shy about talking up Guarantano. It’s possible that Pruitt is just trying to instill some confidence in his starting quarterback, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of coach to lie about his perception of a player’s performance. So for now, I’ll take him at his word that the game really is “slowing down” for Guarantano.

As for the other player mentioned by Price, I think wide receiver Josh Palmer will be a incredibly valuable part of the Vols’ offense in 2019.

Palmer is the best vertical threat the Vols have. Marquez Callaway is going to win his fair share of 50/50 balls, and Jauan Jennings can move the chains. But Palmer is the team’s best big play threat at wide receiver. And we know from Chaney’s previous tenure at Tennessee that he likes to stretch the field when possible.

It’s always good when a player is “turning heads” during a scrimmage or practice. But I think these particular players should definitely ramp up the excitement level for Vol fans as we inch closer to the start of the 2019 season.

Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

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