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Tennessee Football: Five true freshmen most likely to make an impact in 2023

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A significant loss in production combined with a top 10 recruiting class increases the likelihood of Tennessee Football true freshmen seeing a lot of action. Here are the five true freshmen most likely to make an impact on the Vols in 2023.

5. Nico Iamaleava

Yes, he’s the projected backup, but Nico Iamaleava has been making a big push for the starting job. Also, it’s more likely than not that Joe Milton III gets banged up at some point during the season, in which case Iamaleava would have to come in. An eventual superstar, look for Iamaleava to make key plays this year.

4. Ethan Davis

Jacob Warren is the clear-cut No. 1 tight end, and it’s likely the Vols go four-wide on drives he’s getting a breather. However, they usually run two tight ends on alternate drives if they can help it, and if a second tight end is going to make an impact, Ethan Davis is that guy. Davis will be a star by 2024, but he’ll at least see some action this year.

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3. Khalifa Keith

Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright are the two main feature backs, and Dylan Sampson is the all-purpose back. Khalifa Keith, though, is likely to be the goal line power back. This is a role Princeton Fant moved into last year when Len’Neth Whitehead got hurt. Both are gone now, so look for Keith to step in for Tennessee Football.

2. Jordan Matthews

Secondary is obviously a huge issue for the Vols, and they likely have multiple openings at cornerback, making it likely a freshman takes a starting job there. Jordan Matthews and Rickey Gibson III are two highly touted cornerbacks, but Matthews appears to be the better one right now, so of the freshmen, he’ll take a starting job.

1. Arion Carter

From projection to likelihood, it would actually be shocking if Arion Carter isn’t starting for Tennessee Football. Tim Banks likes to run a three-linebacker rotation in his nickel packages, and Carter should be in there with Keenan Pili and Aaron Beasley. Look for Carter to push Freshman All-American honors by season’s end.

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