The SEC officially announced the dates and location for its annual football media days in July. To no one’s surprise, the event will be held in Nashville from July 17-20. That was leaked during last year’s unofficial kickoff to football season.
Of course, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel will be in attendance. Tennessee’s players won’t be announced until shortly before the event. While no one at Tennessee has asked me personally, here is who I would most strongly consider inviting to SEC media days this summer: tight end Jacob Warren, offensive lineman Cooper Mays, defensive lineman Omari Thomas and a quarterback, maybe.
Warren, Mays and Thomas are all great leaders and comfortable in front of the media. They’re great representatives for the Vols, but what about every reporter’s favorite position to write about, quarterback?
Obviously, Joe Milton is the leader to attend the event among UT’s current crop of signal callers. The senior is expected to be the starter this season as long as he can hold off freshman sensation Nico Iamaleava, who won’t be a candidate to lead the Vols into the press conference circuit because he is a freshman.
There are still five months of practice and preparation time before SEC Media Days. That means the Vols don’t have to show their cards anytime soon when it comes to what they think about their quarterback situation. However, if Milton isn’t selected to represent the Vols, that is a strong indication that he hasn’t locked up the job. If he is, indeed, in Nashville in July, then one would think he’s held off Iamaleava. If the Vols go quarterback-less for the event, then that’s a sign that there is still a quarterback battle ongoing that could drag into August.
Even if Iamaleava looks like Tennessee’s first-string quarterback amongst the Vols’ coaches, he’s not going to SEC Media Days. There’s no reason to add more hype for a freshman that has already received more recruiting exposure than any other player in Tennessee football history. Raising expectations even higher for Iamaleava just makes no sense.
The Vols selected former quarterback Hendon Hooker as a representative for SEC Media Days last season. That was a no-brainer. There was no doubt that he’d be the starter after winning the job in 2021. Will Milton be in that same position this season? SEC Media Days should give some insight into just what Tennessee’s coaches think about Tennessee’s quarterback position. If Milton isn’t there, it’s a sign that Tennessee’s coaches are still unsure of their quarterback position headed into the 2023 season.