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Volunteer Countdown: Can Tennessee Football WR Squirrel White be Vols’ next Jalin Hyatt?

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Tennessee Football enters the season as one of the most highly-anticipated teams in the country. Who will be the key pieces for the Vols in 2024? The following is a countdown series of the most important Vols on Tennessee’s roster as they head into summer workouts.

A Josh Heupel discount is emerging for Tennessee Football wide receivers, and why shouldn’t it? The Vols produced a 1,000-yard receiver in Cedric Tillman and a Biletnikoff Award winner in Jalin Hyatt the next year. In 2023, they produced neither, but that was due to a confluence of factors, including injury.

However, their leading receiver, Hyatt’s replacement, is back. Squirrel White had 67 catches for 803 yards and two touchdowns. The 5’10” 165-pound speedster is entering his junior year with the Vols and his second as the starter in the slot. Playing for an elite receivers coach like Kelsey Pope should only help.


Last year, White had to split early reps with Dont’e Thornton. That won’t be a problem this year, though, as the coaches have moved Thornton to the outside along with Chris Brazzell II and Mike Matthews. Add in Bru McCoy returning from a broken leg, and the wideouts should take lots more pressure off White this year.

Of course, then there’s the elephant in the room at quarterback. Early signs point to Nico Iamaleava turning UT’s offense back more like into what it was in 2022 under Hendon Hooker than 2023 under Joe Milton III, which should only increase downfield big-play opportunities for White.

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What If?

It’s a safe bet White pans out since we all know what he can do, but if he gets hurt, Tennessee Football signed four-star freshman Braylon Staley. He’s got a lot of potential as a pure receiver and, just like Hyatt did, hails from South Carolina, so watch out for his future.


White is the only receiver who is penciled in as the surefire starter for the Vols right now. We assume McCoy will, but his health is in question as he recovers from a broken leg, and then there’s open competition to replace Ramel Keyton as the No. 2 wideout. As a result, White should be destined for a superstar season in this system.

Worth Noting

Despite what may have seemed like a down year for the Tennessee Football offense, particularly in the passing game, White still had more receiving yards than Velus Jones Jr. did playing for the Vols at that slot position in 2021, and Jones turned that into becoming a draft pick by the Chicago Bears. Because of that, he has plenty to be excited about this year.

As for the rest of the top 10 most important players for Tennessee Football entering summer workouts, here is the countdown:

10 Javontez Spraggins

9 John Campbell Jr.

8 Omari Thomas

7. Bru McCoy

6. Rickey Gibson III

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