Josh Heupel on which Tennessee receivers are standing out early, why skill players thrive in his offense
Unlike in recent seasons on Rocky Top, there will be plenty of opportunities for Tennessee’s receivers in Josh Heupel’s offense.
The challenge for the Volunteer coaching staff comes with identifying which playmakers will get those opportunities first when Heupel unveils his offense this fall.
During the coach’s most recent media availability on Friday, Heupel mentioned Cedric Tillman, Velus Jones Jr. and Jimmy Calloway when asked which wideouts have been the most impressive early on through his first spring camp in Knoxville.
“Tillman has done a fantastic job of just being really purposeful in his work habits on the practice field,” Heupel answered. “He’s playing faster as he’s getting more comfortable from Day 1 to Day 5.
“Velus had done a tremendous job, he’s a really strong competitor, brings a great amount of leadership to that wide receiver group every day in the meeting rooms and that’s transitioned on to the practice field. Jimmy Calloway is having a good spring, a good start. He’s a guy that’s learning to play with the technique and what we are asking him to do. Getting better every day but has the ability to extend the field and really make some plays down the field.”
According to Tennessee’s coach, those receivers — as well as the rest of the talented corps the coaching staff has to work with — still have a long way to go but he believes the offense’s playmakers are already buying into the system.
“They are starting to gain a trust in what we are doing and starting to play with a lot better technique, which will give them the ability to go win down the football field,” Heupel added. “They’ve created some big plays in the passing game.”
After getting their first taste of the offense in spring camp, a few of the team’s receivers have noted just how enjoyable this offense is to play in.
Why is that?
“For us, the ability to play with tempo, for those guys to be put in a position where we are going to try and find ways to isolate them and put them in a one-on-one position and then give them the tools to go win. I think at the end of the day, as a wideout, that’s what you are looking for,” Heupel added.
“The tempo we play, the number of snaps we get, the number of ball-in-hand opportunities that our skill players have, I think you put all of that together, plus the energy of which we play with on game day, and even on the practice field, I think it’s a really unique offense for skill players and wide receivers to play in, something they flourish in.”
Considering the lack of offensive production on the field the previous few seasons, that should be music to the ears of Tennessee’s receivers and fans alike.
Cover photo comes courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications