It’s been a wild trip for Tennessee soccer over the previous 10 years. From the top of the Derek Dooley period, to the missed alternatives of the Butch Jones regime, to the Jeremy Pruitt tenure that resulted in scandal and now Josh Heupel’s time within the scorching seat, it’s by no means boring in Huge Orange Nation.
Generally we overlook that the Vols have had some athletes who’ve made their mark and shall be remembered for many years to come back among the many UT trustworthy.
The next is one particular person’s opinion on the ten most essential gamers at Tennessee over the previous 10 years (2012-21).
10. DB Todd Kelly Jr.
The Vols Class of 2014 was among the finest within the latest historical past of this system, and Todd Kelly Jr. was a giant a part of that group. Kelly, an area product from Webb College of Knoxville, was a 4-star security that picked Tennessee over Alabama. That dedication was an eye-opener for the nationwide notion of the Vols.
Kelly then grew to become an extension of Tennessee’s recruiting workers, working to safe different 4-star in-state standouts like WR Josh Malone, RB Jalen Hurd and DE Derek Barnett. That class was the cornerstone of workforce that received 9 video games in 2015 and once more 2016.
Accidents restricted Kelly’s closing 2 seasons in Knoxville.
9. DB Alontae Taylor
The loopy teaching search of 2017 left Jeremy Pruitt and that new teaching workers scrambling. Taylor had decommitted, however Pruitt persuaded him to recommit.
Taylor was a highschool quarterback that was recruited to Tennessee as a large receiver however then was nearly instantly moved to the secondary. He was additionally one among a handful of Vols that selected to stay round after Pruitt’s firing and Heupel’s hiring.
That transfer to the secondary labored out for each events. Taylor was a workforce chief, performed in 45 video games for the Vols whereas beginning 31. He was picked within the 2nd spherical of April’s NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.
8. OL Cade Mays
His journey to the UT campus was a protracted, unusual journey. Mays, a 5-star recruit and a Tennessee legacy, was dedicated to Tennessee for over 2 years earlier than decommitting in the course of the finish of the Butch Jones period. Mays selected Georgia, the place he was a 2-year starter.
Then in January 2020, he left Georgia and transferred to Tennessee.
Tennessee on-line sports activities betting formally launched on November 1, 2020, and lots of the largest sportsbooks are stay and working within the volunteer state. Tennessee is just one of a handful of SEC soccer states with legalized sports activities betting.
Mays began 17 video games for the Vols and whereas accidents restricted him a bit, he helped change the notion of this system. Mays was taken within the sixth spherical of April’s NFL Draft by Carolina.
7. DL Derek Barnett
He wasn’t the highest recruit in that Class of 2014, however he proved to be the very best of the bunch. Barnett began 36 of his 39 video games as a Vol and was at occasions unblockable.
He broke Reggie White’s Vols profession sack report with 33 and was taken 14th general within the 2017 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Barnett was the very best draft decide for a Tennessee participant since Eric Berry went fifth general by Kansas Metropolis in 2010.
Barnett had a key fumble restoration within the 4th quarter of the Eagles’ Tremendous Bowl win over New England in February 2018.
6. WR Cordarrelle Patterson
Tennessee has had its share of spectacular athletes over its storied historical past, however Cordarrelle Patterson is close to the highest.
Patterson was solely at UT for one season (2012), however he produced sufficient highlights to fill a decade. He was a chess grasp taking part in amateurs as a receiver, working again or a kick returner.
Sadly, the 2012 Vols had Sal Sunseri working the protection and so they couldn’t cease anybody. Patterson’s exploits misplaced to historical past on a 5-7 workforce.
5. OL Trey Smith
He was a 5-star recruit. He was the primary true freshman to begin at left guard for the Vols in over 30 years. He was a 4-year starter that fought again from what may have been career-ending blood clots. He was an All-American.
Trey Smith was additionally a group chief and winner of the 2019 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the 12 months.
These blood clots scared quite a lot of NFL groups away, however the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs acquired a steal within the sixth spherical. Smith began each sport for the Chiefs as a rookie in 2021.
4. QB Hendon Hooker
Heading into the 2021 season, Josh Heupel picked switch Joe Milton as his beginning quarterback. However after the 2nd sport of the season, one other switch took management of the offense.
Hendon Hooker put collectively among the finest seasons for a quarterback in Tennessee historical past. He had 3,565 yards of complete offense. He threw for 31 TDs and solely had 3 INTs whereas finishing 68% of his passes.
Heupel’s system is a problem for defenses when you have the proper personnel. Hooker won’t have been his first selection, however he has modified the route of Tennessee’s soccer program.
3. WR Jauan Jennings
Two of the largest performs within the fashionable period of Tennessee soccer had Jauan Jennings on the forefront, and so they occurred in consecutive weeks in 2016. His 4th-quarter landing catch in opposition to Florida and Hail Mary seize in opposition to Georgia are mainstays on the Neyland Stadium jumbotron.
Issues went bitter for Tennessee soccer following that season. Jennings was kicked off the workforce following an expletive-laden rant in opposition to interim head coach Brady Hoke, however he was introduced again by Pruitt after which AD Phillip Fulmer.
Jennings performed each sport with power and emotion and Vols followers fed off that, making him a favourite that’s nonetheless revered at UT.
2. RB Alvin Kamara
He redshirted at Alabama, performed in JUCO, after which transferred to Tennessee. Kamara’s time as a Vol was spectacular, however followers do should surprise what may need been.
Kamara shared time within the backfield in 2015 and 2016 with Jalen Hurd. Regardless of his abilities, Kamara acquired lower than 12 touches a sport. The one sport by which Kamara was the main target of the offense got here in an extra time loss at Texas A&M by which he had 312 all-purpose yards and scored 3 TDs.
Because the retirement of Peyton Manning, Kamara is probably the most recognizable former Vol within the Nationwide Soccer League. Now with the New Orleans Saints, he’s among the finest gamers within the sport.
1. QB Josh Dobbs
He holds many of the information for dashing by a Tennessee quarterback and is distinguished on the passing lists as properly.
He began the ultimate 31 video games of his school profession in a Butch Jones offense the place the QB will get battered. He led the Vols to back-to-back 9-win seasons in 2015 and 2016, the primary time that had occurred since Fulmer’s exit. He additionally received 3 consecutive bowl video games.
The truth that he was an aerospace engineering main was talked about roughly 76,000 occasions on broadcasts.
Josh Dobbs was the Vols’ finest participant on this period of Tennessee soccer.