Tennessee Football: Top 3 position battles to watch (Spring Game Preview)

Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols will close out spring camp with the annual Orange and White Game on Saturday, April 12.

Heading into the spring game, Tennessee football fans will be treated to their first sight of team 118, part of the Vols top five signing class, as well as a slew of interesting position battles that likely won’t be determined until they report back for fall camp.

First up, it’s the quarterbacks.

Just like a year ago, the quarterback race is a four man race heading into the 2014 season. Three of the four quarterbacks vying for the starting job all made at least one start in 2013, the only one who never saw playing time was Riley Ferguson who redshirted his freshman season.

Although Ferguson was the only one not to receive any playing time, he may emerge as the leader for the starting job as the spring comes to a close.

Justin Worley, who took the majority of the snaps a season ago, heads into his final year as a Vol still viewed as the leader in the race at the moment. Since recovering from his thumb injury suffered against South Carolina and Alabama last year, Worley has had an impressive spring.

While Josh Dobbs and Nathan Peterman have also had solid performances throughout spring camp, Worley and Ferguson are still receiving the majority of first team reps. Head coach Butch Jones has yet to say if anyone is ahead of the other, but fans will be able to judge for themselves on Saturday.

The running back battle may interest fans as well.

Highly touted five-star signee Jalen Hurd has joined the squad, and has continued to impress coaches with his efforts and God-given talent on the field. However, Hurd may not be receiving as many first-team reps as most may have figured.

In their final Saturday scrimmage before the Orange and White game, most of the first-team reps went to senior Marlin Lane. Hurd still received some solid time with the starters, but was far from impressive in the team’s final head-to-head outing before the spring game.

Hurd struggled to gain more than three yards each carry he was given, and made things worse with a fumble inside the five-yard-line in a situational scrimmage.

It’s also worth noting that Devrin Young has seemed to migrate back towards the running back position, his original position upon committing to Tennessee. Former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney had moved the elusive Young to receiver in 2012, which is where Jones left him after taking over last year.

In the team’s final scrimmage on Saturday, Young looked very impressive back at the running back position, but still didn’t receive very many reps.

Finally, fans will want to keep a sharp eye on the impressive receiver core the Vols will have on display in Saturday’s spring game.

While it looks as if Marquez North, Von Pearson, and Josh Malone have established themselves as the top three receivers for the Vols’ three-wide sets, the offense won’t miss a beat if any of them were to go down.

Although they are the most impressive, the talent coming off the Vols’ bench has still been very impressive throughout the spring, most notably Josh Smith and Cody Blanc.

While quarterback play could still end up being a little edgy for the Vols this year, with all of the talent and depth they are stacked with at the skill-set positions, the only worry the offense may have is how a completely new offensive line will handle themselves throughout the season.

Tennessee’s annual Orange and White game will kickoff at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with gates opening for fan appreciation day at 12:30 p.m.

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