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Two Tennessee  freshmen are making themselves known as the Vols prepare for Iowa in the Citrus Bowl

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Tennessee’s 2024 class is barely a day old. Yet there are already some early returns.

The Vols have two highly rated incoming players that have already displayed the skills that made them highly rated prospects: receiver Mike Matthews and defensive back Boo Carter.

“A couple guys definitely come to mind,” Tennessee tight end Jacob Warren said during The Vol Report on Wednesday when asked what recent additions are standing out in bowl practice. “The first one, the biggest one, I think, is, is Boo Carter. He is a guy that everyone knew who he was. Everybody knew the type of player he was. Because we’ve all seen all the highlight videos. We’ve all seen all the stuff about him just through recruiting and stuff. 

Carter has played strong safety for the Vols’ scout team as it prepares its starters for the Citrus Bowl against Iowa on Jan. 1. 

“Man, the kid’s super competitive,” Warren said. “He’s one of those guys you can kind of tell when people truly love the game, right? When people truly do it for the right reasons and, from everything I’ve seen, he loves the game and he loves to compete and super confident.”

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Carter didn’t let his underclassman status work against him during a recent play in which he was assigned to cover Warren. Despite not even knowing who Warren was, Carter was able to adequately cover him during a recent passing play in practice. 

“His energy immediately after the play,” Warren said when asked what stood out about the exchange. “And the guy doesn’t even know me, right? He doesn’t know who I am. I introduced myself to him and just told him ‘Welcome, I’m happy to have you.’ He’s giving great energy…super confident, super comfortable in his own skin. He’s going to be a super special player.”

If so, he’s not the only one. Carter was a four-star prospect when he enrolled at Tennessee from Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tenn. Receiver Mike Matthews was even higher rated. He was tabbed as a five-star prospect based on his play at Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga.

“Didn’t realize he was a five star, but just saw him just absolutely pop on the field and just how explosive and fast (he is) and his hands and awareness. Everything like that opened my eyes to it. I was like ‘Oh wow.’”

Warren’s eligibility at Tennessee will be expired when the Citrus Bowl ends. Before departing UT, he had some advice for the younger players, including Carter and Matthews.

“My advice would be don’t wait,” Warren said. “Don’t wait to put yourself out there. Don’t wait to make friends. Don’t wait to kind of feel it out and whatever you think, just go for it full speed, especially with guys that are super talented like that, that, have the ability to play early for sure.”

It’s incredibly tough to play early in college football, especially in the SEC. However, it seems Carter and Matthews are early candidates to overcome the odds and be true factors on the field in 2024.

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