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Joe Milton III, Tennessee Football Seniors Shine in Regular Season Finale

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Tennessee football scored 48 points against Vanderbilt in its regular season finale. All 48 points were scored by seniors who are out of eligibility.

Milton had a career performance on Senior Day as well. He threw for a career-high 383 yards and he accounted for six total touchdowns, four of which were through the air.

“You go out with a bang. Every game you try to do that and the most important one is the last one inside the stadium,” Milton said. “You show a team that that’s how we play when we get inside this stadium. That’s the legacy that I am going to hold on to and leave it on to my guy Nico (Iamaleava).”

Milton’s performance was the most touchdowns by a single Vol since Jonathan Crompton in 2009. After an up-and-down season, he ended it on a high note.

Whether his Senior Day performance is what Vols fans choose to remember is to be determined. He surely left Neyland Stadium on a high note, though.

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“I’m proud of his resiliency,” Tennessee football head coach Josh Heupel said. “He continued to prepare to fight and compete extremely well. He was really good throughout the course of the football game. He was decisive, in the right spot and recognized coverage. He did some really good things. He met some guys out on the perimeter to make plays.”

Both tight ends Jacob Warren and McCallan Castles caught a touchdown on Saturday. Both of them are out of eligibility after the 2023 season.

Milton added two touchdowns on the ground and two touchdown passes to Ramel Keyton. It was the seniors day to contribute.

“I held it in for the most part,” Warren said. “Then we got done with the alma mater and started walking back to towards the locker room, I saw all the people that mean a lot to me. Walking by him (McCallan Castles), Joe (Milton), and walking by a lot of people that have played a big part in my development but also my enjoyment in this whole process during this last year. So that was definitely what got me. It is good to be emotional, when you let it out a little bit, it just shows that you care. It has really meant something to me and a lot of people around me.”

The senior class’ impact

According to the seniors, the 8-4 season is a disappointment. But when you look at the numbers, the season still shows an upward trajectory. Heupel has won 19 games in the last two season at Tennessee, with a bowl still to play in.

The last time that happened was under Phillip Fulmer in the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

“It’s been up and down, but we’ve raised the standard and expectation of this program,” Keyton said. “I feel like us as a senior group, even last year we did a good job of that. It’s not like Tennessee is expecting to win eight games even though that may be good for other schools, but we roll with the standard. Our expectation is national championship, SEC championship. Even though we didn’t get it this year, that’s still the expectation. I’m pretty sure next year (will be better), so that’s good.”

Now there are several decisions to be made, particularly for 20 seniors who have eligibility. For the Vols who are out of eligibility, they have played an integral part in the rebuild of Tennessee.

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