KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — You have questions. I have answers.
This is the latest installment of the Tennessee football and recruiting mailbag.
On to the questions…
Brett asks: Is Cam Akers out with (Ty) Chandler committed?
No. Akers remains a priority target for the Vols.
In case you were under a rock, Tennessee landed Nashville native Ty Chandler on Monday, pairing the highly-touted 4-star back with Trey Coleman. While taking three tailbacks normally isn’t in the cards, Akers is an elite option and an automatic take for UT.
However, Akers decommitted from Alabama this spring because of its top-heavy depth chart, so perhaps the Chandler news could dissuade him a bit. I don’t think so, though.
The 5-star Mississippi standout, who had 431 total yards and five touchdowns in his season-opener Thursday, is a fierce competitor and will go to whatever school best suits him. Tennessee remains in the mix, but it must fight off LSU, Ole Miss and Ohio State.
Chris asks: With Chance Hall out, do you see Jack Jones moving into that spot?
Again, no, but not because of Jones’ ability. Jones is a guard, while Hall plays tackle. With Hall sidelined, redshirt junior Brett Kendrick will slide into the starting right tackle role. Jones, an impressive 6-foot-4, 307-pound sophomore, will have a rotational role, filling in as a primary backup at both guard spots and possible even center.
Mark asks: What happened with Justin Foster? I thought we were going to get him.
The Volunteers still could corral the 4-star North Carolina linebacker, but ever since Foster attended Clemson’s All-In Cookout in July, the Tigers have held the momentum for the Top-100 prospect.
Foster’s sister attends Clemson, too, so he has natural ties to the school. Don’t count out UT just yet, as Foster has visited Knoxville multiple times. For now, though, the Tigers should be considered the favorite to land the Army All-American.
Lowell asks: I’ve read a few things about how (Jalen) Hurd and (Alvin) Kamara are expected to opt out for the NFL next year. Can you tell me if they’ve both already stated that? If so, would this coming season result in reversing their decision?
Tennessee’s dangerous duo will not address their professional futures until after the season. But yes, both players are expected to jump to the league in the offseason.
Why? The simplest answer is both tailbacks are potential high draft picks and play a position with a short shelf-life. The average NFL career for a running back is 2.5 seasons. They should leave early.
The Vols already are restocking the cupboard and UT’s 2016 season won’t change Hurd or Kamara’s decision. It’s a legitimate longshot either player wears Orange and White in 2017, so enjoy them while you can.
Andrew asks: Who will be the team’s leading receiver this year? How many yards?
Tough question. A good one, though. I’m going with Preston Williams.
The sophomore isn’t Tennessee’s most consistent receiver (that’d be Franchise a.k.a. Josh Malone), but Williams definitely has the highest ceiling of any receiver on UT’s roster.
He’s big, strong, fast, and has the ability to turn a 5-yard hitch into a 50-yard gain. Teammates raved about Williams’ offseason, and now he could be poised to maximize his potential. A 6-4, 209-pounds, Williams also could be the answer to Tennessee’s wanting downfield aerial attack.
The Vols haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2012 (Justin Hunter), and I don’t believe Williams will quite reach that mark. I say 850 yards and seven touchdowns.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com