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Tennessee Football five biggest 2024 spring practice storylines

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It’s one of the most epic weeks of UT athletics. March Madness is underway, the diamond Vols have begun SEC play, and Tennessee Football is set to kick off its fourth spring practice under Josh Heupel. Here are the five biggest questions facing the Vols as they take the practice field with a new quarterback coming off a 9-4 season in 2023.

How healthy is Tennessee Football?

Bru McCoy, Keenan Pili, Javontez Spraggins and Dont’e Thornton are all potential stars who have returned after suffering season-ending injuries last year. The first three are crucial to their position units if the Vols are going to have success this year. Will any of them see any action in spring ball, or will Heupel keep them out?

Which returning veterans will become leaders?

A huge part of the NIL initiative for Tennessee Football this past year was to make sure veterans would return rather than add a ton of top talent through the portal. That includes McCoy, Pili and Spraggins, but it also includes Cooper Mays, Omari Thomas, Bryson Eason, Dominic Bailey, John Campbell Jr. and Omarr Norman-Lott. Mays and Thomas are already leaders. Who else steps up?

Will any newcomers take over vacant starting roles?

Thanks to early enrollees on the recruiting trail and a group of key transfers, the Vols have a lot of new talent to fill voids. Which of them takes over starting spots in the spring? Could Boo Carter, Jakobe Thomas and Jermod McCoy all emerge in the secondary? What about Lance Heard at left tackle? Who steps up at receiver among Mike Matthews, Braylon Staley and Chris Brazzell III?

How will Tennessee Football adjust to new coaches?

For the first time since he took over at UT, Heupel went outside the family for staff changes. UT hired Washington Huskies assistant William Inge to replace Brian Jean-Mary as linebackers coach, and they hired Cincinnati Bearcats assistant De’Rail Sims to replace Jerry Mack as running backs coach. Will Tennessee Football have any growing pains with these two additions? Spring will tell.

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Who takes the biggest leap forward?

Beyond returning veterans, players back from injury and newcomers, Tennessee Football returns lots of players who have shown flashes of greatness but still haven’t lived up to their potential yet. That includes Dylan Sampson, Squirrel White and Arion Carter. Then there are underachievers like Andre Turrentine and Andrej Karic.

Finally, UT returns players who have star power in James Pearce Jr. and, most obviously, Nico Iamaleava. In 2024, the Vols will depend on all of these guys to take a big step forward, and spring ball is the first step toward doing that. Which player will stand out the most in that regard among the ones we named?

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