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Tennessee Football: Five key Vols to watch for vs. Virginia

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It’s back! Tennessee Football takes the field Saturday to begin Josh Heupel’s third year on the job. The Vols travel to Nashville, Tenn., to face the Virginia Cavaliers at Nissan Stadium. UT has a lot of new faces on this year’s team after quite a few high draft picks, so this will be all about seeing the new weapons. Here are the five UT players to watch for against the UVA Cavs.

5. Keenan Pili – LB

The BYU Cougars transfer was almost penciled in as Jeremy Banks’ replacement at linebacker the minute he stepped on campus. He reportedly hasn’t disappointed, and Tennessee Football will rely on him opposite Aaron Beasley to start the season in spite of all the hype behind Arion Carter. Pay attention to how he handles the new system and fits in.

4. Wesley Walker – DB

Despite coming on strong last year, Wesley Walker still played behind Trevon Flowers at free safety. He is now the full-time starter and actually has the highest PFF grade of any returning safety in the SEC. With more expectations, take a look at what he does starting opposite Jaylen McCollough and if he can keep up what he did last year.

3. John Campbell Jr. – OL

Last year, Tennessee Football rotated Gerald Mincey and Jeremiah Crawford at left tackle. Now, Crawford is at right tackle with Dayne Davis, trying to replace Darnell Wright. Miami Hurricanes transfer John Campbell Jr. is a co-starter at left tackle with Mincey, but the job is reportedly his. This will be a good test for him against a defensive line that returns everybody and whose strength is edge rushers.

2. Ollie Lane – OL

Sticking with the offensive line, Cooper Mays is reportedly out for a few weeks despite being listed as the starter at center. Ollie Lane has taken those snaps in his place. Although he’s listed as a co-backup with Davis, he’ll likely handle the role Saturday. This is a crucial connection that has to develop if Mays is out for a while, so watch for how he does.

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1. Joe Milton III – QB

Every question about Tennessee Football all offseason has come back down to Joe Milton III. Despite a great performance in the 31-14 Orange Bowl win against the Clemson Tigers, Milton still enters the year surrounded by questions about his accuracy and decision-making. He could put those to rest with a dominant performance against UVA.

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