Tennessee freshman Josh Malone saw a season-best performance against No. 3 Ole Miss on Saturday. Facing one of the nation’s best defensive units, the five-star prospect recorded 75 yards on five catches. Malone’s previous best was 43 yards on five receptions during a 35-32 loss to No. 10 Georgia.

The Vols played 16 true freshman in Saturday’s loss, with Malone seeing the best offensive performance of all. The former Station Camp High School standout was one of the top ranked prospects in Tennessee’s recruiting class and entered his first season with high expectations. Head coach Butch Jones noted Malone’s continued progress and importance to the Vols offense during his weekly press conference Monday.

“Josh is one of those individuals we spoke about, about being assertive, being more assertive,” Jones said. “Again, just playing fast, and I thought he played fast. I thought it was his best game he’s played to date. He attacked the ball in the air. He ran routes with confidence. He played with confidence and he showed a little bit of his skill set. We’re going to need more of that moving forward.

“Josh is an individual who has really changed his style of play, his habits; he works hard every day, great character. He’s going to continue to get better and better. That’s when we talk about what John brought up about scheduling and all of that that goes into it. You have to step back and you look at some of the things that these individuals are doing. It’s really impressive.”

Malone has started the past several weeks in the absence of injured wide receiver Josh Smith and the recovery of Von Pearson, who has seen limited action. As his targets increase, Malone continues to show why he was a nationally ranked prospect and has the potential to be an elite SEC receiver. The freshman possesses the size, speed and natural athletic ability to excel at the collegiate level and continues his growth with gained experience.