Considering Josh Heupel is a known offensive commodity, it’s no surprise that when discussing the players that have stood out to him during his first spring at Tennessee, the coach mentioned several players on his side of the ball.

That’s not to say the defense isn’t holding its own on Rocky Top, but when discussing spring camp during a Friday morning appearance on Knoxville-based radio show The Swain Event, Heupel heaped praise on a select few Volunteers.

“There are guys all over the field that have really come on and are doing a really good job,” Heupel said on the show. “(Cedric) Tillman at the wide receiver spot has had back-to-back big-time days, I think he’s grown a bunch; he knows what we are doing offensively.

“We have some young backs, Jabari Small, in particular, that has shown some special traits at the running back position. Like what he’s doing.¬†Walker Merrill at the wide receiver position has had a really good spring for a true freshman.”

When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Heupel likes what he’s seen from the Volunteers’ secondary, in addition to a relatively unknown linebacker catching his eye.

“Defensively, I think our secondary has played really well, playing with great technique and effort and energy,” Heupel continued. “Pakk Garlin at the linebacker spot had a really good spring. He’s continuing to come on here, excited to see the scrimmage from his perspective tomorrow.”

If you aren’t familiar with Kwauze “Pakk” Garland, he is the younger brother of defensive lineman Kurott Garland. Pakk began last season as a defensive back before moving to linebacker by the end of the season. He appeared in the final two games of the season for the Vols.

For a team desperate for help at linebacker, Garland could easily find his way onto the field this fall for the Vols if he continues to progress this offseason.

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Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.