ATLANTA, Ga. – Tennessee needed some young, unproven wide receivers to step up in the season opener against Georgia Tech.
No one knew who would make the plays at wide out when the team needed it most.
Everyone knows now.
Sophomore Marquez Callaway had an explosive second half which featured 4 catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. He helped lead Tennessee in a comeback effort to defeat Georgia Tech 42-41 in double overtime Monday in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The coaching staff didn’t alter any schemes or any play calls after the first half Callaway said after the game. The players just needed to make the plays when they had opportunities.
“Nothing really,” Callaway said. “The coaches came in and we really didn’t change anything on the game plan. He just told us the plays and that we would have to execute them. So, that’s what we went out and did.”
Callaway’s first touchdown came on a 10-yard fade route in the end zone with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. The 6-foot-2, 199-pound wideout picked the ball out of the air while out-jumping his defender.
Callaway’s second touchdown came at the 11:49 mark in the fourth quarter to bring the Vols back to 28-21. He caught a short curl route, turned stiff-armed his defender and then sprinted down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown run.
“Marquez Callaway, what can I say about that individual,” said coach Butch Jones. “He sparked us and made some very, very key plays for us, obviously.
“He has always been one of those individuals that plays with great consistency. Always has energy. Always uplifting. So again, that doesn’t surprise me.”
Callaway came into the game by no means a go-to threat. He played in six games in 2016 and recorded 1 catch for 13 yards.
While the tremendous play in the prime time might have surprised some, running back John Kelly said after the game that was what the team expected.
“He’s a playmaker,” Kelly said. “I’m just glad that he was able to make those plays. I’m happy for him. He showed little flashes all through camp and just like last year a little bit when he got those reps. We knew Quez was a playmaker.”
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