There are 21 states, including the Volunteer State, that have scholarship players on the 2023 Tennessee Football roster. The Vols have always gone national, and this year is no different. Excluding their own state, these are the five most important states to UT’s depth chart this year.
5. North Carolina
It was a close call between North Carolina, Maryland and Louisiana. While North Carolina has more players, Louisiana and Maryland have two crucial players: Dylan Sampson and Jordan Matthews and then Dont’e Thornton and Dominic Bailey. However, North Carolina has Jaylen Wright. James Pearce Jr. and Daevin Hobbs are dangerous edge rushers, and Nathan Leacock is a rising star at receiver.
Squirrel White really pushed Alabama ahead of North Carolina, as he projects to be a star for Tennessee Football this year. Rickey Gibson III and Jourdan Thomas are two freshmen who should be in the rotation in the secondary, and Khalifa Keith should immediately step in as the Vols’ power back, so there is clearly one guy and potentially four who could contribute.
Yes, the Vols have some key talent from out west. Nico Iamaleava is the most notable player from the Golden State, but he’s not going to star this year. Still, Bru McCoy will be a go-to receiver, and he hails from there. McCallan Castles could be in the rotation at tight end, and the same is true of Omarr Norman-Lott on the defensive line.
Josh Heupel’s ties to the state are paying off. UT’s starting quarterback, Joe Milton III, is from there, as is its highest profile tackle, Gerald Mincey. The projected starting tackle opposite Mincey, John Campbell Jr., is also from Florida. Add in De’Shawn Rucker, and the Sunshine State is playing a huge role on the Vols’ depth chart this year.
Is anybody really shocked by this? Tennessee Football has always had a Georgia pipeline, and this year is no different. Ramel Keyton, Aaron Beasley, Roman Harrison, Doneiko Slaughter and Jaylen McCullough are all projected starters from there. Then there are tons of rotational players, in the double digits. Simply put, UT goes as far as the kids from Georgia on the roster take it.