Six starters and eight rotations left on last year’s Tennessee football team that went 7-6 in its first season under Josh Heupel. If you count Tiyon Evans, that number jumps to seven starters and nine rotational players. However, that means the Vols are returning a ton of talent this year in their two-deep rotation.
Rocky Top also has elite transfers and new signings. What will it all look like in the fall, though? This article will attempt to break that down based on past production, especially last year, expectations of them this year, and what they did in the spring, if any.
This is a two-depth projection, but it won’t perfectly separate each position with two spots. Some will go three deep, but the fact is that offense and defense will each end up with 22 named players. Systems-based flexibility is crucial. Here’s our 2022 Tennessee football two-deep depth chart projection.
There are no surprises here. Hendon Hooker could be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He stepped in against the Pittsburgh Panthers last year and never lost his job, completing 206 of 303 passes (68%) for 2,945 yards (9.7 yards per attempt), 31 touchdowns and three interceptions.
In addition to his incredible efficiency through the air, Hooker had 616 yards on 166 carries (3.7 yards per attempt), which includes sacks, for five touchdowns. He’s the star of the Vols, and his decision to return for his graduating senior season was huge.
2. Joe Milton III
Although he started early last year and then lost his job, Joe Milton III likely still has it over Tayven Jackson and Navy Shuler. Last year, accuracy was a huge issue for Milton. A transfer from the Michigan Wolverines, he completed 32 of 62 passes (51.6%) for 375 yards (6 yards per attempt), two touchdowns and no picks.
Milton also rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries (4.6 yards per carry). Should his accuracy take a step forward, he should be Tennessee football’s second stringer with a chance to start his final year of eligibility in 2024.