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Tennessee Football: Young Players Give Peek to 2024 Season

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Tennessee football was without 24 players on Monday as it won the Citrus Bowl 35-0.

Thanks to the opt-outs, transfers and injuries, several young players got to showcase their talents as a preview for 2024. Nico Iamaleava is the most high-profile, which you can read about here.

Here’s a look at some of the young players who shined against Iowa.

RB Dylan Sampson

With Jaylen Wright opting out for the NFL Draft, and Jabari Small also opting out for the NFL Draft, Sampson was elevated to starting running back. The sophomore did not disappoint.

Sampson ran for 133 yards on 20 attempts against one of the best-run defenses in the country. Iowa came in averaging 102.5 yards per game. Sampson showcased why he could be a consistent option at RB1 next season.

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Freshman Cameron Seldon also flashed during the game. He finished with 13 carries for 55 yards.

DL Tyre West

Defensive end Tyler Baron transferred to Ole Miss and defensive lineman Omarr Norman-Lott was inactive for the bowl game. In their absence, West stepped up and showcased why he could become a starter.

West finished with four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound entered the Citrus Bowl with just 2.5 sacks in his career.

West didn’t start the game, but he lined up in Baron’s spot when the Vols went into a nickel defense.

LB Jeremiah Telander

Freshman Telander has played some during his freshman year, but he got extended run in the bowl game with both Arion Carter and Keenan Pili out with injury. Telander played 25 snaps with five tackles and a tackle for loss.

Secondary

Several players in the secondary who haven’t played much this season shined during the Citrus Bowl. Andre Turrentine had a huge interception to stop Iowa from scoring. He also defended two passes and broke up another while grabbing three tackles. Coming into the bowl game, Turrentine had never picked up a pass defense in his career.

Jourdan Thomas, who will work his way likely into the STAR position next year, picked up three tackles with a tackle for loss. Freshman Rickey Gibson III added a tackle in his first career start. Sophomore Christian Harrison also registered two tackles in the win.

The takeaway

The Citrus Bowl offered a preview of what the Vols could look like in the 2024 season. Iamaleava at QB represents the position going into next year, likely the same for Sampson. As for the secondary and even some moving pieces on the defensive line, transfer portal pieces and the incoming recruiting class could offer different options there.

The Citrus Bowl didn’t offer everything the Vols will have next season, but it was a good preview.

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