Last year, the Tennessee Volunteers went 9-3 in the SEC but missed out on an SEC East title. A season that began with lofty expectations ended with a 14-point win over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl. Quarterback Josh Dobbs, defensive end Derek Barnett and running back Alvin Kamara are all in the NFL.
Butch Jones’ fifth season in Knoxville begins with plenty of uncertainty, and the team at GoVols247.com has the inside scoop on it all. Wes Rucker and Ryan Callahan are the founders of GoVols247.com, an original 247Sports.com site, and they sat down with CBS Sports to talk about a potentially make-or-break season for head coach Butch Jones.
Ryan Callahan on the major storyline heading into the Vols’ 2017 season: There are so many unknowns across the board with this team right now. They’re going to have a new quarterback, at least one new starter along the offensive line, and there’s uncertainty across the board at almost every position. They’re a young team and it’s setting up to where UT can go anywhere from 6-6 to 10-2. I think a lot of those outcomes are on the table. It’ll depend on how healthy they stay and how many young guys reach their potential.
On who will start under center: They’ve spent the entire offseason having Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano compete for the starting job. Since the end of spring practice, Dormady has been the favorite. He also had a better spring game, but it looks like the battle will carry over into the season. That gives them a chance to sort things out during the first two games before they open SEC play against Florida. They have two talented options and they hope one of them takes the job and runs with it.
On whether the uncertainty has impacted recruiting: There has been no impact. Jones thinks he has the best recruiting staff he’s had while at UT. The class is ranked No. 6 nationally. To have turned things around in recruiting and done a good job getting players in-state have really helped him. There’s a legitimate chance they’ll finish with a top-10 class.
On how the Volunteers’ offensive line will shake out: They’ve had different combinations on the offensive line in camp this year. They’ll move Jashon Robertson to center and play guys at different positions until they find a combination that works. What normally would be considered a strength on the offensive line is now a concern because they’ve missed out on a few weeks of development time. Look for the line to improve as the season goes on.
On whether fans are growing impatient with Jones given the expectations of 2016: This is a big year for him. There’s been a lot of talk in the offseason about Jones being in the hot seat, and there’s a perception nationally that he’s fighting for his job. There’s a scenario where he could lose his job, but I think for the most part, even with an athletic director now on board who didn’t hire him, it’s a situation where another 8-4 season would be considered okay enough where he gets another year.
On the staff at GoVols247.com: Wes Rucker and I started the site from scratch seven years ago. We were an original 247Sports.com site and didn’t come over from another network. In the past two years, we’ve expanded our staff with Grant Romney and Patrick Brown. We feel like we have a really good staff and it’s the best we’ve had since Day 1. We all have relationships with coaches. There are different guys on the coaching staff that have great relationships with people on our staff, and that really helps our content.
So will the Volunteers continue to recruit at a high level despite the uncertainty? And will fans continue to stand by Butch Jones? Visit GoVols247.com now for the latest insider news on the Tennessee Volunteers, all from the staff that’s been around for almost a decade, and find out.