KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee wide receiving group keeps getting thinned out due to injury which forces players into bigger roles.
Freshman Jacquez Jones will miss the season with a knee injury and senior Josh Smith broke collar bone Sunday at practice.
The shorter rotation will thrust players like sophomore Brandon Johnson into more playing time.
Johnson said after Monday’s practice in Neyland Stadium the onus of the receiving duties will be placed on the entire group.
“Right now, as a receiving core, we all have to step up,” Johnson said. “Everybody has been trained in all positions, so we all know what to do at this point. We are just looking forward to getting out there.”
Johnson could be in line for a big season after beginning to put things together on the field in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound wide receiver played in 9 games last season and recorded 7 receptions for 93 yards.
Johnson flashed his abilities with more playing time coming up with 5 catches for 64 yards in the 55-0 victory over Tennessee Tech.
Johnson missed time in the spring due to a shoulder surgery. Some players might regress with their time off the field, but Johnson said he used the time to his advantage.
“My most growth comes in my knowledge of the game,” Johnson said. “I studied all off season, all the time I was hurt. I couldn’t play on the field with my brothers, so all I could do was study. I’ve become more intelligent.”
Coach Butch Jones has said multiple times throughout camp the team needs to find more playmakers.
Johnson said the wide receivers have begun to round into shape and make the plays Jones demands.
“I think we’ve made great strides all camp and all summer,” Johnson said. “I feel like everybody is stepping up to the plate, especially the freshmen. We are just looking forward to going out there and making plays come Georgia Tech.”
Tennessee needs players to step up at the wide receiver position, Johnson might just be the player for the job.
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