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Tennessee Football: Why Vols’ TE McCallan Castles needed off-season full of prep

Tennessee’s tight end group lost an important piece of its offense from last season. They seemed to have that buttoned up after just two games.

Former Vol Princeton Fant, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys, was a fan favorite and utility-knife sort of player for Tennessee last season. The Vols may not have a Swiss Army sort of player this season, but they do have two very solid, if not standout, tight ends.

Jacob Warren, who decided to return for his final year of eligibility, has two catches for 22 yards and a touchdown this season. The senior scored in the Vols’ opening game against Virginia. Warren was a known commodity. Freshman McCallan Castles was not and arguably still isn’t after just two games as a Vol. However, the transfer from UC-Davis looked beastly on Saturday when he caught a 43-yard touchdown pass.

“He’s athletic, he’s explosive…was great to see and 100-percent expect that from him,” Tennessee tight ends coach Alec Abeln said.

Lest we not forget that tight ends do more than just catch passes and rumble down the field as Castles did. The Vols also ask their tight ends to block when they run the ball. Well, the Vols have the No. 1 rushing offense in the SEC with 515 yards and 6.1-yards per carry. Both top the conference. The tight ends are a part of that and so is Castles.

“It’s a credit to him and the work that he’s put into it,” said Abeln, who has also worked with Tennessee’s offensive line as an assistant. “…. I think if you ask him going back to the spring, a lot of the stuff that he looks pretty solid at right now, you’d be scratching your head saying, I don’t know if he’s gonna figure it out in the spring. But it’s been a work and a really intentional mindset from him to get better in those areas.”

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Abeln’s crew will be challenged on Saturday by a Gator defensive front that utilises multiple looks to disguise what its trying to accomplish defensively.

“They’re really multiple, do a good job presenting that package and really make you work to earn it,” Abeln said.

Just like Castles.

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