Tennessee’s wide receiver core on Friday gave us a taste of what to expect in the 2023 campaign.
Joe Milton III’s first three passes on Friday night were to Squirrel White, setting the tone for a dominant night from the true freshman against Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Jalin Hyatt – 2022 Biletnikoff award winner and Tennessee’s slot receiver – opted out of the Orange Bowl in order to prepare for the NFL draft. White started in his place, filling big shoes.
White finished with nine catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.
“I just went to Bru (McCoy), Ramel (Keyton), and stayed in the building extra,” White said on filling Hyatt’s shoes. “Just stayed in the building extra and worked on my game, extra film. I knew I had to step up.”
White has shown flashes of his potential this year, but he showcased what we can expect from him next year. In Josh Heupel’s offense, the slot receiver is crucial for the offense’s success. Many schemes, as seen this year with Hyatt, leave whoever lines up in the slot wide open.
Hyatt wasn’t the only absent receiver on Friday. Cedric Tillman also chose to opt-out of the Orange Bowl to prepare for the NFL draft.
Tillman spent much of 2022 dealing with an ankle injury. Ramel Keyton has played in Tillman’s place for much of this season, and it’s safe to say that will continue next season.
Keyton finished Friday night with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Coming from USC, Bro McCoy had a great season for the Vols. On Friday, he capped off his year with four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. At 6-foot-3 and 220-pounds, it’s safe to assume McCoy will remain a part of Tennessee’s offense in 2023.
The Vols lose two of their top receivers, as well as their quarterback following this season. Friday gave us a peak of what this offense maybe next year.
“I feel like we (are) the best,” White said. “All of us come to work every day and we just ball out.”
With Heupel’s schemes, and a quarterback who is able to hit the wide-open receiver, the Vols could continue their offense dominance in 2023.
“You don’t know when it’s coming. We have young guys who continue to get better,” Heupel said. “We got good young players. We’re losing some good veterans obviously, but the future is freaky bright for Tennessee football.”