Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Three Tennessee Football Players Receive SEC Honors

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After an outstanding offensive performance and monumental victory on the Third Saturday In October over the third-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, three members of the Tennessee football program have been recognized by the Southeastern Conference with weekly awards. Junior receiver Jalin Hyatt was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week, senior tackle Darnell Wright took home SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week honors, and redshirt senior placekicker Chase McGrath was tabbed the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Tennessee collects three weekly awards from the conference office for the first time since also having three honorees on Oct. 28, 2019 after a 41-21 win over South Carolina. Through the first six weeks of the season, the Vols have earned nine SEC weekly honors—the most of any team in the conference.

Hyatt and Wright are both first-time recipients of SEC weekly honors, while McGrath picks up his second career and second consecutive SEC Special Teams Player of the Week nod.

Hyatt delivered arguably the greatest receiving performance in school history on Saturday, tying the SEC single-game record and shattering the UT program record with five receiving touchdowns. He finished the contest with six catches for 207 yards, ranking sixth in Tennessee single-game history and marking the most by a UT player in an SEC game since Denarius Moore had 228 against South Carolina on Oct. 30, 2010.

The junior from Irmo, South Carolina, became the fifth player in SEC history to catch five or more touchdowns in a game and the first since Alabama’s DeVonta Smith vs. Ole Miss in 2019. He also tied the single-game program record for points with 30, a mark that evened with Gene McEver who had 30 points on five rushing TDs against South Carolina in Dec. 7, 1929.

Furthermore, Hyatt was the first player to register three or more touchdowns and 100 receiving yards against Alabama in the Nick Saban era. He also was the first FBS player with five or more receiving touchdowns against an AP top-five team since NC State’s Terry Holt did so at No. 3 Florida State on Nov. 8, 1997.

Wright, making his 35th career start on the offensive line, protected and paved the way for a Tennessee offense that racked up 567 total yards against an Alabama defense that entered the game allowing an SEC-best 250.8 yards per game. A 2023 NFL Draft prospect, Wright played all 70 offensive snaps at right tackle and did not allow a sack or pressure as the Vols also rushed for 182 yards in the victory. He has not allowed a sack in 12 straight games.

According to Pro Football Focus, the senior from Huntington, West Virginia, was the highest graded offensive lineman in the contest as Tennessee averaged a stellar 8.1 yards per play—the most allowed by Alabama since giving up 8.85 yards per play against Texas A&M on Sept. 14, 2013. The Volunteer offensive line neutralized a dominant Alabama front on Saturday, surrendering only two tackles for loss and one sack as a unit for the entire game.

The hero from Saturday night, McGrath connected on his only field goal attempt of the game from 40 yards as time expired to give Tennessee its first victory over Alabama since 2006. The kick was UT’s first game-winner as time expired since Michael Palardy hit a 19-yard try to defeat No. 11 South Carolina on Oct. 19, 2013, and McGrath’s first game-winning field goal since a 43-yard make against Texas as a true freshman at Southern Cal on Sept. 16, 2017. From 40 yards and in, the redshirt senior from Newport Beach, California, is 16-of-17 for his Tennessee career, including 10 makes in a row.

McGrath’s heroic boot on Saturday lifted the Vols to a 52-49 triumph over the Tide, which stands as the most points allowed by Alabama since 1907. Tennessee’s 52 points on Saturday were its most against an AP Top 25 opponent in program history, breaking the school record of 51 set in a 51-33 victory at No. 10 Georgia on Oct. 7, 2006.

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