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Who is next Tennessee Vol to star with NFL with Draft buzzing

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With the NFL Draft upon us, it’s fair to wonder just who might be the next professional football superstar that is currently draped in orange.

Now, let’s be really clear. Following the guide of Will West from The Sports Animal, who introduced the topic, there are only certain positions in which a player can be a star. In other words, a good quarterback is much more of a talking point than an elite offensive guard. And in this exercise, we’ll lean more towards upperclassmen since they’ve proven more.

Therefore, Tre Smith doesn’t count as a superstar despite winning two Super Bowls and being a starting guard on both of those teams. Smith could win a handful of All-Pro awards and still not be considered a star – or a household name.

Here are some players that can achieve NFL superstardom based on their current play, projection and whether or not they play a position worthy of star status.

Top Trio

It’s impossible to leave EDGE rusher James Pearce Jr., off of this list considering he is expected to be a top pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Pass rushing may not be quite as sexy as throwing touchdowns passes, but it’s close.

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When he was healthy – and before Pearce’s ascension as a top prospect – there were many that thought receiver Bru McCoy was the top NFL prospect on Tennessee’s football team before the 2023 season unfolded. McCoy suffered a serious injury, but could reclaim  a top NFL Draft position if he shows he’s healthy this fall.

Dylan Sampson, since he’s a running back, may not have a long impact in the NFL, but that same position could make him a superstar, a la former Vol Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints. Sampson is tough to bring down with the ball in his hands. That should make him at least a fantasy football star in the NFL.


Freshman Mike Matthews has plenty of time to refine his skills, but early indications are he could be an elite player…Tulane transfer Chris Brazzell II has had one monstrous season in college. Another could make him a star in the pros…Receiver Squirrel White could certainly be a star this season and in the NFL…Receiver Dont’e Thornton could have a bounce back season and has the athletic ability to impress NFL scouts.

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