Saturday was a big night for Jalin Hyatt. He was able to meet one of the best receivers of his generation, see Tennessee’s defense keep up the back with the Vols’ offense and, oh yeah, he also had another huge night catching the ball and finding the end zone.
Hyatt finished the Tennessee game with five receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He began the game by meeting Chad Ochocinco, who was formerly known as Chad Johnson. By either name, he was one of the top receivers in recent NFL memory, starring in thr NFL from 2001-2012, and has become a fan of Hyatt and the Vols from afar on Twitter.
“Yeah, he’s taller than I thought,” Hyatt said of meeting Ochocinco. “Those are the things you dream of, just to have an opportunity just to see him, just to meet him, it made my day. I think that’s why I wanted to play so hard, just because he’s here.”
Go back a generation and Hyatt topped another top receiver. Hyatt scored his 14th touchdown reception this season. That breaks Tennessee’s all-time leading record, which was previously held by Marcus Nash, who played for the Vols in the 1990’s. Hyatt broke the record in just 7-1/2 games.
When asked if he knew Nash, Hyatt said, “I need to do my Tennessee history. I do not and I feel bad about it. I’m not even trying to think about the accolades.
“We’ve got a big game next week and we’re worried about what we can do and how far we can take it. With the guys we have on this team…we all have the same goal. That’s why we’re capitalizing on our opportunities”
The next opportunity lies in Athen, Ga., on Saturday. The Vols-Bulldogs game will be the most talked about game of the weekend as both teams are likely to be ranked in the top three and, perhaps, the top two. The Vols were ranked No. 3 coming into Saturday’s games. Georgia was ranked No 1 and beat Florida 42-20.
Ohio State was ranked No. 2, but it would hardly be a surprise if the Vols passed the Buckeyes, who beat Penn State 44-13.
“That’s what you live for,” Hyatt said. “You live for games like that. We’re going to bring our all for Georgia. It’s definitely going to be our healthiest team coming into Georgia.”
The Vols welcomed back Cedric Tillman, who has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury against Akron. Tillman caught four passes for 22 yards in a limited role. Nevertheless, Hyatt still led the way with five receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite being absent and only playing limited snaps against Kentucky, Hyatt believes that Tillman’s return affected Kentucky’s defense.
“Having Ced out there,” Hyatt said. “It was a big presence for them I’m sure.”
Blessings are coming in droves for the Vols. Hyatt is one of them. The Vols are also blessed by their weekly game plans. On Saturday, Hyatt was wide open for many of his receptions. Even he was surprised at times.
“I was surprised today for sure,” Hyatt said.
Georgia shouldn’t be surprised by Vols, who have played at an exceedingly high level all season. No player has embodied that more than Hyatt.