Who is standing out at wide receiver?
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee wide receiver core has one certainty and that’s the playing time of Jauan Jennings.
The other receivers who will get the remaining snaps at wide receiver for the Vols becomes a bit trickier to figure out.
Coach Butch Jones said after Tuesday’s practice that an injury to redshirt senior Josh Smith has given a newcomer a chance to step up.
“With Smith being out, the individual who has really stepped up is true freshman Josh Palmer,” Jones said. “He’s gained those repetitions and what he’s doing right now is putting his identity on video. He’s going to be an individual that’s going to play a lot of football for us this year.”
Smith sat out Tuesday’s practice for what Jones called “precautionary” reasons. Smith had 13 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown in 2016.
Palmer rated as a 3-star wide receiver out of high school, and Jones called a “late bloomer.” Jones praised Palmer’s ability to retain the play book and his route running ability.
Palmer seized the opportunities through the team’s first eight practices along with sophomore Brandon Johnson.
“We expect to have Josh Smith back here very soon,” Jones said. “Again, what does the next individual do to take advantage of those reps. Josh Palmer is an individual who has really taken advantage of those repetitions just like Brandon Johnson.”
Johnson tallied seven receptions for 93 yards last season.
“Brandon Johnson is challenging for a starting position in the wide receiver core,” Jones said. “That’s a byproduct of the increased repetitions.”
Others who factor
Sophomores Marquez Callaway and Tyler Byrd will likely play key roles at the wide receiver position this fall.
Callaway had one catch for 13 yards last season, while Byrd finished with 15 receptions for 209 yards.
Callaway said after practice on Aug. 1 the wide receivers recognize the availability of playing time at this stage of fall camp.
“There’s a lot of opportunities out there,” Callaway said. “There are a lot of receivers trying to get that opportunity. We just come every day to try and learn the playbook. Just like we do every day.”