Today, we take a look at what should be the strongest and weakest positions for Tennessee entering the 2010 season:
Strongest position: Receiver/tight end
Key departures: Quintin Hancock
The skinny: The Vols’ top three pass-catchers from a year ago are all back, and that includes Stocker, one of the better receiving tight ends in the league. Stocker thought about turning pro, but elected to return for his senior season. Moore led the Vols with seven touchdown catches. The threesome of Jones, Moore and Stocker combined for 16 touchdown receptions last season and will form the nucleus of Tennessee’s passing game in 2010, although they will have to get used to a new quarterback. Moore has terrific speed and gives the Vols a legitimate deep threat. Jones is versatile enough to move around and play different spots. One of the Vols’ highest-rated signees, Da’Rick Rogers, will be difficult to keep off the field.
Weakest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: Jarrod Shaw, Dallas Thomas
Key departures: Chris Scott, Aaron Douglas, Jacques McClendon, Cody Sullins, Cory Sullins, Vlad Richard
The skinny: An already challenging situation for the Vols up front got a lot worse when Douglas went into first-year coach Derek Dooley’s office last week and asked for a release. Douglas, who had moved from tight end to right tackle the year before, was going to be the anchor of the line. But with him gone, the Vols essentially will be starting over. Shaw started three games last season at guard, all during the first part of the season. He’s the only player with any meaningful experience returning. Redshirt freshman JerQuari Schofield at guard and true freshman Ja’Wuan James at tackle are both working with the first unit right now. Sophomore Dallas Thomas is the likely left tackle. As inexperienced as the Vols will be up front, depth will be an even bigger problem. They can’t afford to get anybody hurt.