A year ago Alton “Pig” Howard led the Vols in receiving. He finished off the 2013 season with 44 receptions, 388 yards and three touchdowns. However, in 2014 he may have a limited role in the Vols’ offense.
Butch Jones and staff brought in an impressive recruiting class for the 2014 season, including junior college transfer Von Pearson, and in-state five star commitment Josh Malone.
Both Pearson and Malone have already made big splashes into the Tennessee football program, and have jumped right to the top working with the first team offense over the majority of the offseason after enrolling early in January.
Along with Pearson and Malone, Marquez North, who earned All-SEC Freshman honors in 2013, is back for his sophomore campaign, and has worked with the first team offense since he first stepped foot on campus a year ago. The trio have worked together throughout the entire offseason while Howard was on hiatus, and left uncertainty as to whether he would return to the team or not.
Unlucky for Howard, the team never missed a beat without him. With North, Pearson, and Malone being the projected starting three heading into fall camp for the Vols’ offense, Howard is left being not fourth on the depth chart, but possibly the fifth man down the line.
Jason Croom has also come on strong over the offseason. With his massive size at 6-foot-5, 234 pounds, it’ll be hard for the Vols not to utilize him in the offense if any of the starting three need a breather, or if the Vols decide to go to one of their four-wide sets. The only saving grace for Howard at this point is he would make a better receiver in the slot than Croom would given his speed and versatility.
Barring an extraordinary fall camp, Howard may well have just worked his way out of a starting position after leading the Vols through the air just one year ago.
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