A Key Start to the Tennessee Football Offseason

After Tennessee football capped of the 2015 season with a 45-6 victory over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl, many wondered if Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cameron Sutton and Alvin Kamara would return for their senior season or go to the NFL draft. In addition to roster changes, there were a couple of coaching changes that also got the attention of Tennessee fans everywhere.

A Key Start to the Tennessee Football Offseason

The first change was Larry Scott to coach the tight end position. Scott came from the University of Miami (FL), where he coached the same position from 2013-2015 before becoming the interim head coach for the Hurricanes to end the 2015 season. He guided the Hurricanes to a 4-2 record and on to the Sun Bowl. He is one of the best coaches in his respective coaching position, and there was a lot of excitement about this hire.

It was announced about a week later that linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin was returning for his senior season. Jalen lead Tennessee in tackles in each of his previous seasons. He had 105 tackles in 2015, fourteen of which were for a loss of yards. This was big news as Reeves-Maybin is a big time player for Tennessee. So far, the offseason news was good for Tennessee football, but it would only get better for the Vols.

News broke that defensive coordinator, John Jancek had been let go. Many, including myself, were hoping Tennessee would get an even better replacement, which came true. Defensive coordinator, Bob Shoop, had left Penn State and would be coming to Tennessee to coach the same position. Shoop is one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. Penn State was 15th in the country in total defense last season and in 2014, they ranked 2nd in total defense, and 7th in scoring defense. Tennessee fans rejoiced over this hire, as it was a big one for the Vols.

Now only one question remained. Would Cam Sutton and Alvin Kamara return for their senior seasons, or go onto the NFL? That answer would give Vol fans reason to rejoice again. Cam Sutton was the one to announce first that he is staying and is one of the best cornerbacks to ever play at Tennessee, and that’s saying something. He is tied for fourth in career passes defended at 32, which passes Eric Berry at 31. In 2015 he made 28 tackles, an interception, six pass break-ups and two forced fumbles. He’s not only a great cornerback but a dangerous punt returner. In 2015, he ranked first in punt return average at 18.7. He set a new Tennessee punt return yard record with 467 yards. Sutton had two punt return touchdowns in 2015, which made him the sixth Vol to have two in the same season. Needless to say, this was a big one for Tennessee. To top it off, running back Alvin Kamara announced he would return. He rushed for 698 yards in 2015 with seven rushing touchdowns. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry, third in the SEC. He has tremendous speed, and playing alongside another dangerous running back Jalen Hurd, Tennessee’s offense is going to be deadly next year.

Cam Sutton was a projected second-round draft pick, while Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Alvin Kamara were just fifth-round or lower. Tennessee has several returning starters for next year and getting these three was huge for the Vols. A dangerous offense, defense and special teams is going to make Tennessee a national contender for next year. The upcoming season is also a big year considering quarterback Josh Dobbs and running back Alvin Kamara will be seniors. Junior running back Jalen Hurd could also leave for the NFL which makes 2016 a make or break year for the Vols with so much talent.

 

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