First-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt has made it clear that he wants to win immediately at Tennessee; as well as signing a near-full recruiting class of 21 for 2018, five of which are transfers from junior colleges, Pruitt’s squad added three transfers in the offseason.
With so many newcomers to the football program, it would not be out of the question to expect quite a few of them to make an immediate impact when they take the field this fall.
Keller Chryst, graduate transfer quarterback
Arguably the biggest storyline this fall camp is the quarterback battle, which Pruitt insists will involve all four scholarship quarterbacks on Tennessee’s roster. Realistically, it will likely come down to redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano and Stanford graduate transfer Keller Chryst.
Most expect both quarterbacks to see playing time early in the season, and a solid starter may not be named until a couple of weeks in.
While Guarantano may have the edge in athleticism and experience with Tennessee, one could argue Chryst is a better quarterback for the system that new offensive coordinator Tyson Helton is expected to run, which will look like a pro-style offense.
As a starter at Stanford, Chryst was 11-2. His career completion percentage is a little low, completing just 55.4 percent of his passes. However, he has thrown for 1,926 yards and 19 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
His inconsistent accuracy, as well as a nagging knee injury, led to his benching last November. His experience as a fifth-year senior and his aptitude as a pro-style quarterback could give him the edge over Guarantano at quarterback this fall.
Brandon Kennedy, transfer offensive lineman
Kennedy will join Tennessee this season after two years at Alabama, where he was a reserve guard/center. With two years of eligibility left to play, Kennedy is an immediate plug-and-play option on a much-bereaved Tennessee offensive line.
Standing at 6-foot-3, 301 pounds, Kennedy figures to step in and start at center for the Vols immediately. With sophomore All-American lineman Trey Smith’s health status still in question, and with Chance Hall still battling injuries, having a presence like Kennedy on the offensive line is very important.
Kennedy's experience in the SEC and his versatility should prove invaluable for a position group that remains a question mark headed into the upcoming season.
Madre London, graduate transfer running back
London joins the Vols after spending time at Michigan State, where he got a buried behind young and talented depth for the Spartans.
He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, and had issues holding onto the ball. Still, for his career, he gained 924 yards and eight touchdowns on 230 carries. Standing at 6-1, 218 pounds, London may be exactly what Tennessee is looking for size-wise in a running back.
Pruitt has already indicated that Tennessee will have quite a committee of running backs, with four or five expected to play. The most experienced running back Tennessee has returning is sophomore Ty Chandler, who played behind now-NFL running back John Kelly last season.
With a trio of sophomores and one true freshman occupying the running back room for Tennessee, London brings leadership and experience that could elevate Tennessee’s backs, and he’ll likely see a good bit of the field this fall.
Alontae Taylor, freshman corner
Tennessee’s second-highest rated commit in the class of 2018, true freshman Alontae Taylor played all over the place in his formative years at Coffee County High School, from quarterback to corner and almost everything in between.
Such versatility and athleticism may be hard to keep off the field this season for Tennessee, especially since Taylor is projected to play corner, the position at which he was stationed in the Orange and White game.
Though he ran with the second team, he had a nice showing, and it isn’t out of the question that he will see the field early and often for a beleaguered Tennessee secondary.
Dominick Wood-Anderson, JUCO tight end
A pro-style offense typically utilizes two tight ends on any given down. Pro-style tight ends aren’t just expected to catch; they must block as well. To do this, you need size.
With just two tight ends before the addition of Anderson above 250 pounds, size at that position is something Tennessee lacked. Coming in at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds, Anderson should step in and play immediately alongside projected starters Eli Wolf and Austin Pope.
Not only does he bring size to the table, he brings collegiate experience. He spent last year playing at junior college powerhouse Arizona Western Community College, where he caught 31 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns. These numbers were good enough for Anderson to be named a second-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American.
It won’t take long for Anderson to see the field, and he may even earn starter status at some point in the season.