Preparations for the 2022 football season in Tennessee are underway with the arrival of a new batch of players.
Coach Josh Heupel held a team meeting Sunday night and welcomed 14 early entrants with scholarships and four remarkable walk-ons to kick off the spring semester. They will participate in winter training and spring training to begin their career with the Vols.
The rest of the class of 2022 will arrive in the summer. Here is an overview of new players who are already at the UT.
Charlie Browder, tight ending
Browder, a 6-foot-7, 260-pounder, is a favorite walk-on with a stock player’s potential worth. He signed with UCF in the 2021 class as a three star prospect when Heupel was there. He could be in a long-term role as a big blocking tight end since Trinity Bell entered the transfer portal. Browder grew up as a UT fan and played two seasons with Dobyns-Bennett at Kingsport before transferring to Christ School in Arden, North Carolina.
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Mo Clipper Jr., offensive lineman
Clipper, a 6-5, 300-pounder, goes from tackle in high school to guard at UT. Learning the position and offensive schedule will be the keys to his offseason. The Vols return their starters to the attack line, so Clipper must take advantage of learning from guard Jerome Carvin, a super senior.
Brian Grant, offensive lineman
Grant is a promising project for offensive line coach Glen Elarbee. He has only played football for two years, but he has a tall frame of 6-8, 280 pounds and very good athleticism for his height. Developing Grant takes time, so a red shirt year is a good option. But he could become an agile offensive tackle.
Jackson Hannah, linebacker
The 6-3, 220-pound Hannah, a Nebraska transfer and preferred walk-on, could give UT some much-needed depth at linebacker and an employee on special teams. The former Montgomery Bell Academy luminary was a three-star prospect in the class of 2019. He spent three seasons in Nebraska and played 12 games in special teams in 2021.
Elijah Herring, linebacker
Haring, a 6-2, 225-pounder, mostly played as an edge rusher at Riverdale. He will transition to inside linebacker at the UT, so learning his position and schedule will determine his long-term impact. Notably, his younger brother Caleb, a four-star edge rusher, is the #1 prospect in Tennessee in the 2023 class.
Tayven Jackson, quarterback
There has been no pressure on Jackson, a four-star signer, since starting quarterback Hendon Hooker and backup Joe Milton are back. The 6-5, 185-pound Jackson has raw talent, but he needs time to develop and learn Heupel’s attack. He will watch and learn from Hooker, starting in spring training. While much of college football is changing at quarterback, UT has stability and the luxury of a returning starter and a promising freshman. Jackson is well placed to advance into the position.
Cameron Miller, wide receiver
Miller, a Tennessee Mr. Football finalist, played running back, wide receiver and kick/punt returner for Memphis Academy of Health Sciences. The 6-1, 195-pounder is a natural ball carrier with elusive skills in the open field. But the UT wants him to develop into a broad receiver, so brushing up on his route running will be a focus in spring practice.
Gerald Mincey, offensive lineman
UT returns four starters to the offensive line. But it has a big gap in the right tackle after Cade Mays was declared to the NFL Draft and K’Rojhn Calbert was transferred to Eastern Kentucky. The 6-6, 317-pound Mincey, a transfer from Florida, will have the chance to fill that vacancy along with returning reserves Dayne Davis, Jeremiah Crawford and others. Mincey played 11 games in two seasons for the Gators as a reserve.
Addison Nichols, offensive lineman
Offensive linemen rarely play big snaps as a freshman. But Nichols, a 6-5, 315-pounder with advanced skills, could be an exception. He was a four-star signee and the UT’s highest-rated player in the 2022 class, according to 247 Sports Composite. The Vols return their starting guards, but Nichols could compete for a backup roll and provide valuable depth if he can learn the attacking system.
Chas Nimrod, wide receiver
Nimrod, a 6-3, 183-pounder, is a tall, wide-legged stride who can elevate to catch passes. He projects as a vertical threat, probably as an external receiver. But coach Kodi Burns will slowly take him to tap into his potential.
Jordan Phillips, Defensive Lineman
The 6-2, 300-pound Phillips, a three-star signee, graduated from high school early enough that he participated in a few Music City Bowl exercises before UT left campus for Nashville in December. He has potential as a run-stopper as he is an accomplished wrestler with a powerful compact frame. A good sign of Phillips’ progress is that he has lost weight and arrived on campus in better shape.
Titus Rohrer, tight ending
A walk-on favorite, Rohrer is a 6-7, 250-pounder from Bryan (Ohio) High School. He will probably add depth to the tight end. But with that size, there’s always the possibility that he could go to the defense.
Navy Shuler, quarterback
the 6-foot, 200-pound Shuler, the son of former UT star quarterback Heath Shuler, is a preferred walk-on who had a scholarship to Appalachian State. He was a three-star prospect in the class of 2020, playing one game in two seasons. Hooker is the starter of the UT. Milton is the backup. And Jackson will develop as the potential future starter. But with only three stock quarterbacks on the roster, Shuler fills a need for depth on the position.
Kaleb Webb, wide receiver
A four-star signer, Webb is a big physical wideout with a 6-3, 190-pound frame and good speed as a big, deep threat. He had a 4.0 GPA in high school, so his football IQ shouldn’t be an issue. His advantage is unquestionable, so he must benefit from practicing behind Cedric Tillman. But can Webb help the UT in the first year? Could be. He might be a freshman to watch.
Tire West, defensive lineman
The UT’s defenses need depth, and sooner or later West can provide it. Enrolling early may pay off if West can make headway in the weight room and work in the scheme. He’s a freshman, but his 6-3, 280-pound frame gets him off to a good start. West, a four-star prospect, chose UT over the state of Florida after his resignation from Georgia. He will be a priority for defensive coach Rodney Garner, who helped him get to UT. Linemen don’t usually crack the rotation as freshmen, but West can be an exception.
Justin Williams, run back
Consider Williams one of the most intriguing additions when spring training arrives. The 6-foot, 205-pounder has a combination of size and speed that UT lacks in its group of running backs. The Vols defeated Auburn to take down Williams, who raced nearly 2,000 yards as one of Georgia’s best high school running backs. His tools point to a potential difference maker at the UT, but the question is whether that will happen in the future. Starter Jabari Small and backup Jaylen Wright return in the backfield. But Tiyon Evans has been transferred to Louisville, so one more ingredient is needed.
Marquarius White, wide receiver
White, nicknamed “Squirrel”, is an intriguing addition. He’s undersized at 5-10, 160 pounds, but he’s touting an explosive burst and a unique stop-and-start speed. Now Velus Jones Jr. graduates, the UT needs a slot receiver that can catch a short bubble screen and explode for a big win. That’s what white does very well. Multiple receivers will start practicing on the depth chart for White, but it will be interesting to see if he can make some dynamic plays when he gets his chance in open competition.
Dee Williams, corner back
Ranked as the No. 3 junior college cornerback, the 5-11, 190-pound Williams was signed to fill an immediate need with the loss of starting defensive backs Alontae Taylor and Theo Jackson. Williams looks like a wide receiver playing defense. He has very good ball skills, as evidenced by his seven interceptions last season. And he is an elusive point returner. The UT will need him to compete for a place in a secondary with questions.
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