KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Josh Heupel enters his third year as the head coach of the Tennessee Vols. As the team prepares for the upcoming season, they are changing the game by practicing on Haslam Field.
Tennessee is in a lot better place than when Heupel took over the program in 2021.
“It’s dramatically different than we were year one,” he said. “I would say that with the guys who ran out there with the first unit too, but if you just look through the depth of our roster, the length and size, ability to bend up front in particular, the athleticism, the ability to move out in space with our skill guys and big skill, it’s dramatically different.”
Heupel touts the depth the program has compared to year one. In his first year, Tennessee had 65 scholarship players, they enter 2023 with about 85.
“One of you said yesterday something about some of you all playing linebacker for us our first year here,” he said. “You go ones, twos and threes, and there are real players at all levels right there that we certainly didn’t have early in my tenure here.”
That depth rings true in the receiving room where Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy are taking on a leadership role, but there is another receiver who is starting to find his place on “Rocky Top.” Squirrel White enters year two after a breakout game in the Orange Bowl.
“I think at times you didn’t see his true personality,” Heupel said. “We’ve seen it inside the building for a lot longer than you all have because we interact with him every single day. I just feel like in the back third of last season, we got a chance to see a little bit more of it and certainly since we’ve been back this entire offseason. You’ve gotten to see a true sense of who he is and what he’s about outside of just lining up and playing football at a really high level. He cares. He’s really engaging.”
White and the Vols continue camp on Wednesday. Tight ends coach Alec Abeln will speak to the media at approximately 11:20 a.m.
Tennessee starts its season on Sept. 2 against Virginia in Nashville at Noon on WATE.