With a new coach, it’s a fresh start for tons of Tennessee football players this spring practice. As Josh Heupel goes about installing his new system, everybody who returns from last year has a lot to re-learn. Nobody really has an advantage, and even a heavy senior class, thanks in large part to players deciding to use that extra year of NCAA eligibility, provides no advantages.
What about the underclassmen who are back? In this post, we’re going to rank those players as they navigate through spring ball. These are the standout non-seniors who have already proven something and give Heupel a bit to work with.
Our criteria for these players is simply their past production, particularly in 2020. Even in a bad year, plenty of them came through at times. Production in 2019 can be taken into account as well, but they have to have shown something in 2020, and again, they can’t be seniors. These are Tennessee football’s 10 best underclassmen in Heupel’s first spring practice.
Wide receiver Junior
6’3″ 195 pounds; Hometown: Marietta, Ga.
Honestly, it’s a big shocking that Ramel Keyton didn’t have a breakout year in 2020. A four-star out of Marietta High School in Georgia’s Cobb County, Keyton had four catches for 104 yards as a true freshman. However, as a sophomore, he had nine catches for just 76 yards.
Still, Keyton has shown promise, and with the departures of Josh Palmer and Brandon Johnson a year after the departures of Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, he could be destined for stardom. Although he may not be the go-to receiver, playing in Heupel’s system will give him lots of chances to stand out.
There are plenty of unproven receivers in Tennessee football’s system right now, and Keyton is in that group, but he’s the most proven of all of them. As a result, he’s done just enough to make this list, and he could burst onto the scene this year.