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Tennessee Football: Five Vols to watch for in Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa

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Opt outs have generated a wave of excitement for Tennessee Football as the Vols get set to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Citrus Bowl. A collection of new faces combined with certain breakout stars give them a lot to look forward to next year, and the trip to Orlando could give fans a preview. These are the five UT players who will be key vs. Iowa.

5. Jackson Ross, P

Just look at Iowa’s offense. It’s horrendous. Kirk Ferentz’s team is No. 127 in points per game and dead last nationally in yards per game. Meanwhile, they have a backup quarterback in Deacon Hill, and their top receiver is out in Erick All. That means field position can be huge, and the Vols have a Freshman All-SEC punter in Jackson Ross. If he pins Iowa deep consistently, they’ll never score.

4. Rickey Gibson III, CB

It’s no secret that Tennessee Football was hit with a wave of departures in the secondary this offseason, meaning a lot of new faces will be out there Monday. Rickey Gibson III is one of them, a freshman cornerback who came in with lots of hype and has come on recently. Although Iowa’s offense is awful, big plays are always possible, and Gibson’s performance as now a likely starter is key to stop that.

3. Squirrel White, WR

Iowa plays a 4-2-5 defense where they leave the intermediate passing game wide open, betting on teams to make mistakes eventually if they run too many plays. That’s where Squirrel White comes in. The speedster is UT’s only healthy starting receiver who hasn’t been dinged up all year, and given how slow Iowa is, if he catches passes over the middle, he could turn on the jets, so watch out.

2. James Pearce Jr., DE

Although he had an early December arrest, the charges were dropped for James Pearce Jr., so the Vols’ elite edge rusher is primed and ready to wreak havoc on Iowa. In their two losses, the Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan Wolverines each had four sacks and two strip-sacks. Look for Pearce to do something similar in this game.

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1. Nico Iamaleava, QB

Was this even a question? Nico Iamaleava getting the starting nod with Joe Milton III opting out gives Tennessee Football fans a preview of next year. Iamaleava will be tested on his touch over the middle given Iowa’s defensive schemes, something Milton struggled with, but if he can stay patient, he should have a very efficient day.

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