KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee desperately needs playmakers to emerge on offense, and sophomore Marquez Callaway could be one of them.
Callaway, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Warner Robins, Ga., showed signs of his ability last season when he returned 2 punts for 114 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee Tech.
Former receivers coach Zach Azzanni only got Callaway on the field for 1 catch for 13 yards, but new receivers coach Kevin Beard has been providing some up-close tutoring.
Tennessee released a video of Beard coaching up Callaway, who also was made available to talk to the media on Thursday.
#SpringBall Day 2. All you got.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) March 24, 2017
Coach Butch Jones has yet to release an organizational chart — Jones says there is no depth chart at this time — but who he allows to talk to media is often a clue of which players are faring well.
Tennessee returns bell cow receiver Jauan Jennings, who had 40 catches for 580 yards, but after that sophomore Tyler Byrd is the next leading returner with 15 catches for 209 yards.
Byrd, for all of his great athleticism and upside, has yet to show the ability to make yards after the catch.
That’s where Callaway could prove to be a difference-maker, and that’s probably why he’s reaching out to last year’s leading receiver at Tennessee.
“I’m looking up to (Josh) Malone, since I work with him hands-on and he’s been with me,” Callaway said. “I know I can always call him when I need something. We talk a good bit.”
Callaway said the Vols’ young receiving corps is not intimidated by the prospect of having to measure up to last year’s group.
“We all trying to step up and fill the roles,” Callaway said. “We know we can’t be like them, we’re trying to get better than them, so whenever they are back we pick their brain about what we can do better.”