Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
At the offensive skill positions and in the secondary, the Vols could have several true freshmen playing key roles.
Bryce Brown, RB: Rated as one of the top running back prospects in the country, Brown looks like the complete package on tape. He's a powerful runner inside and has great breakaway speed on the perimeter. He's also impressed everybody on campus this summer with his work ethic and maturity. Senior Montario Hardesty will be the starter, but look for Brown to add some sizzle to the Vols' running game this season. First-year coach Lane Kiffin has promised to get his young talent on the field, and Brown may be the most talented of the bunch.
Nu'Keese Richardson, WR: Even before the Vols lost senior Austin Rogers for the season and junior Denarius Moore for several games, there were questions at receiver. Richardson will get a chance right away to show that he's the kind of game-breaking threat Tennessee lacked last season at receiver. He's not very big, but has great moves and is at his best after the catch. Like Brown, he won't have to wait long to get on the field, and Kiffin is committed to finding ways to get him the ball.
Montori Hughes, DT: It won't be entirely new for the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Hughes, who's a redshirt freshman and had the benefit of spring practice. He was one of the most pleasant surprises of the spring and provided the kind of muscle in the middle of the defensive line that will be critical for the Vols this fall. Seniors Dan Williams and Wes Brown are the projected starters at tackle, but Hughes will be a big part of the rotation and has the strength, agility and size to be a special player.