By Josh Ward | @Josh_Ward
Tennessee has a new-look roster entering its season opener against West Virginia.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt focused this offseason on upgrading the roster. That resulted in a two-deep earlier this week that featured 11 players who weren’t part of last year’s team.
Here are five newcomers to keep an eye on as the Vols get set to open the season against West Virginia.
1. TE Dominick Wood-Anderson
The junior college transfer was brought in to help right away, and Tennessee’s fall camp showed us that will happen. Wood-Anderson can make plays across the field as well as serve as a safety valve. His presence also makes the tight end position deeper, which will allow the Vols to use the position group in a number of ways.
2. CB Alontae Taylor
The only question about Taylor during the spring was whether he would play on offense or defense. With the Vols’ need at cornerback and Taylor’s quick transition to the position halfway through the spring, he stuck. Don’t be surprised if Taylor gives up a few plays against West Virginia, but he could also make a play or two. Taylor is a terrific athlete who will play a big role for Tennessee for the next few years.
3. RB Madre London
Tennessee has a three-man group in the offensive backfield. Sophomores Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan return with increased roles and a chance to make plays in the Vols’ offense. London will help add some muscle to the group. The grad transfer from Michigan State knows what it takes to play in big-time games, which he did for the Spartans. London’s presence will help Tennessee’s offensive coaches have a legit rotation at running back.
4. C Brandon Kennedy
Tennessee’s offensive line needs to be physical and aggressive against West Virginia’s defense. Is the group up for it? Kennedy is one player who should be after transferring from Alabama. He’s seen up-close what it means to be a hard-hitting offensive lineman in the SEC. Tennessee’s coaches hope that Kennedy (along with left tackle Trey Smith) can pass that along to his teammates.
5. P Joe Doyle
This is cheating a little bit because Doyle is actually a redshirt freshman. But Doyle has big shoes to fill replacing Trevor Daniel, the new starting punter for the Houston Texans. Doyle battled against true freshman Paxton Brooks during the spring and fall and appears to have held off the talented newcomer. Both punters could end up seeing time on Saturday, but the start is expected to go to Doyle, a Farragut High School grad and 2017 Under Armour All-American. He has a big opportunity kicking for his hometown team.