It truly was Senior Day for Tennessee Football. Players who had given their all for the Vols but didn’t have the year they wanted were able to at least put an exclamation point on their final home game and final regular season game of 2023. Those players out of eligibility often led the way for the torchbearers. Here are the top five UT players in their 48-24 win over the Commodores.
5. Ollie Lane
Over the course of his six years on Rocky Top, Ollie Lane was a utility lineman filling in wherever necessary. He did just that Saturday, starting at left guard but moving to center after Cooper Mays got hurt. Anchoring a makeshift offensive line, he helped pave the way for the Vols to rush for 168 yards and average over five yards a carry, Jaylen Wright carrying it 11 times for 75 yards.
4. Omari Thomas
Technically, Omari Thomas has another year of eligibility left, but he is also a senior, and he made a statement up front for Tennessee Football Saturday. Thomas racked up four tackles, three of which were solo, but most notably, he had two quarterback hurries. He also anchored a front four that forced Vandy to average under three yards a carry, so he makes the list.
3. James Pearce Jr.
Cheers to the one senior not on here. James Pearce Jr. is on the verge of superstardom for the Vols, and he showed it again Saturday. While Tyler Baron had a solo sack and Pearce’s sack was with help from Tyre West, Pearce also had a tackle for a loss, and he hurried the quarterback twice, finishing with three total tackles, two of which were solo.
2. Ramel Keyton
Jacob Warren could have been on here with three catches for 82 yards and a score, but he had a drop. Squirrel White had 10 catches for 110 yards but also had a drop. McCallan Castles had three catches for 47 yards and a score and at least gets a shoutout. However, Ramel Keyton was the star, catching four balls for 122 yards and two touchdowns in his final regular season game at UT.
1. Joe Milton III
What can you say about Joe Milton III? Despite his ups and downs with Tennessee Football, he finished the regular season off right with an amazing performance, completing 22-of-33 passes for a career-high 383 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes while rushing for 11 yards and two more scores. It was the first six-touchdown performance for a UT quarterback since Jonathan Crompton in 2009.