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Tennessee Football: Five Vols who must improve for 2024

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Nico Iamaleava is all the rage for Tennessee Football heading into the 2024 season, but if he is to take the Vols to new heights, he’s going to need help elsewhere. Here are five UT players who have to step up their game in 2024 if they are going to compete for a championship.

Andre Turrentine

Josh Heupel turned to a brand new secondary via the transfer portal with three additions and far more departures. Andre Turrentine, however, has been in the system for two years and didn’t start playing until the end of this past season.

In the Citrus Bowl, Turrentine had an interception and showed promise of what he could be. He could line up at safety or nickel for Tennessee Football next year, and the Vols certainly need more able bodies in that unit, so it’s time for the once four-star recruit to reach his potential.

John Campbell Jr.

With Lance Heard arriving, the Vols are likely to do with John Campbell Jr. what they did with Darnell Wright and move him over to right tackle. Campbell was solid last year and showed rare raw, physical potential, but he had a few mental lapses.

Next year, if Campbell can more fine-tune his game, he could become an All-SEC caliber tackle, which is exactly what UT will need from him on that side. Iamaleava can’t do what fans want him to do unless Campbell and Heard do their part to keep him upright.

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Andrej Karic

Left guard remains the one spot in question for Tennessee Football now. It was an issue this past year as well with Jerome Carvin gone. Transferring from the Texas Longhorns, Andrej Karic was supposed to fill that void, but he never did and was honestly awful at times.

If UT can’t find anybody to step up and fill that void on the roster, Karic has to improve. Cooper Mays and Javontez Spraggins have the other two interior line spots locked up, but Heupel’s offense depends on the vertical rushing attack, and he can’t have it unless all three linemen are blocking on the inside.

Elijah Simmons

This isn’t about a need, but it’s about what is possible. Defensive tackle is in pretty good shape for the Vols with Omari Thomas, Omarr Norman-Lott and Bryson Eason. However, none of them have the rare, physical talent Elijah Simmons has.

At Simmons is a true nose tackle who could become a wrecking ball up front for the Vols. With elite edge rushers like James Pearce Jr. already, a dominant, game-changing tackle could give the Vols the best defensive front in college football. All it will take is for Simmons to get a mean streak. Can Rodney Garner pull that out of him?

Dylan Sampson

Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small are gone. Dylan Sampson is the best playmaker at running back Tennessee Football has, but he’s the absolute worst pass blocker to ever step on the field. He can’t be the threat the Vols need him to be unless he improves that in the offseason.

Cam Seldon’s vision is a loss, and Peyton Lewis is a freshman. If Rocky Top is going to be sure about their standing at running back, they need Sampson to be the guy. All it takes is a little bit of willpower to block blitzers. If he can do that, he’s the next Alvin Kamara.

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