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Tennessee Football: 5 Dark Horse Vols to watch in 2023

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We are less than two weeks away from Tennessee’s first game week of the 2023 season.

At this point, we’ve covered the main players that will help the Vols this fall.

How much have you talked about Joe Milton III, Cooper Mays, and the potential of Tennessee’s top four receivers?

As everyone knows, it takes more than the stars for a football team to succeed.

Depth has to emerge and surprise players need to step up.

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Theo Jackson was one of those players in 2021.

Jalin Hyatt’s rise to the Biletnikoff Award was a surprise last year.

Who are some dark horse candidates to emerge and make a difference for Tennessee this season?

Let’s take a look at five candidates.

Andre Turrentine

Turrentine’s name barely came up during the off-season chatter about all of Tennessee’s options in the secondary.

That was a mistake.

Turrentine is a talented player who’s pushing to start at safety.

A former four-star recruit in the 2021 class, Turrentine transferred to Tennessee from Ohio State last year.

He never factored into Tennessee’s defensive backfield in 2022 and got lost in conversation.

But he spent his first year in college practicing against Ohio State’s future NFL receivers.

And last year he went up against Josh Heupel’s impressive group of receivers.

That competition in practice has helped him prepare for an on-field role this fall.

Don’t be surprised if he takes it.

Kaleb Webb

Tennessee has a “Big Four” at wide receiver.

But what if something happens to one (or more) of them?

Webb made big catches in the spring game, flashing his potential.

He’s received more work in scrimmages this fall as veterans have gotten some rest.

Heupel praised Webb on Wednesday for the extra work he put in during the offseason.

Fellow second-year receiver Chad Nimrod is another candidate here. Heupel and the offensive staff like his potential, too.

But we’ll give the nod to Webb as a dark-horse receiver to watch.

Ethan Davis

Jacob Warren is the guy at tight end.

And McCallan Castles transferred to help immediately. He’s received positive press during camp.

Behind Warren and Castles, there’s only Davis.

So the true freshman needs to be ready.

Davis is impressive physically.

The 6-foot-5, 232-pounder from Atlanta was a four-star prospect in the 2023 class.

He showed up looking the part at Tennessee and made a “wow” catch during the spring game.

He suffered a collarbone injury in the spring game but has recovered and impressed during fall camp.

As Davis continues to learn, he should expect an opportunity to help the offense this fall.

Expect a highlight or two from Davis as a freshman.

Jeremiah Crawford

It’s no secret that Crawford has a good chance to start at right tackle.

But fans and media continue to shift the conversation to Gerald Mincey.

“Is Mincey not going to take that spot from Crawford?” many people have asked.

Well, maybe not.

Crawford has worked to earn a starting position.

And he’s not afraid to play in the SEC.

His upchuck-and-nod against Alabama last season proved that fact.

Crawford was an important part of the offensive line last season.

But for some reason, he’s been a popular player to bet against during fall competition.

I’ll bet on him as a dark-horse piece to help Tennessee win in 2023.

Cameron Seldon

This is a stretch for a “dark horse” option considering Seldon was so highly touted as a recruit.

But he also entered fall camp fourth in line at running back.

That makes Seldon a good bet to emerge and play a bigger role than expected.

Seldon could earn playing time and an opportunity to make plays through practice reps.

He also might be needed this season due to injury.

Running backs go down often. That’s why depth at the position is so important.

Jaylen Wright looks to be taking control of the RB1 role.

Jabari Small has played a lot of snaps and Dylan Sampson had an impressive offseason.

But Seldon takes a backseat to no one when it comes to talent.

Don’t be surprised if we talk about him more before the season ends.

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