Coach: Frank Wilson, James Cregg (tight ends)
Lettermen Lost (3): WR - Josh Briscoe, Lucas Taylor, Austin Rogers (injury); TE - None.
WR - Gerald Jones (Jr., 6-0, 199)
WR - Quintin Hancock (Sr., 6-3, 207) or Denarius Moore (Jr., 6-1, 190) or Brandon Warren (Jr., 6-2, 216)
TE - Jeff Cottam (Sr., 6-8, 260) or Luke Stocker (Jr., 6-6, 245)
Watch For: The injury report. Rogers is out for the year with a torn ACL, while Moore (foot) and Jones (wrist) could be out for part of September. Any more injuries could be trouble, especially early.
Key Stat: The Vols had just one receiver record a 100-plus yard game last season (Lucas Taylor vs. UAB). The next highest single-game total was Jones' 68 yards against Georgia.
When it comes to bad luck this offseason, Tennessee's wide receivers have borne the brunt.
Within a span of a few days, the Vols found out their most experienced receiver, senior Austin Rogers, would be out for the season with a torn ACL. Then junior Denarius Moore, perhaps UT's best deep threat, underwent surgery on his foot that should keep him sidelined until September at earliest.
More bad news followed with junior Gerald Jones, UT's most dynamic threat at wideout, who is healing more slowly than expected from offseason surgery on his wrist and would likely be limited through much of fall camp and perhaps into the season.
For first-year UT coach Lane Kiffin, though, what appeared to be a case of bad luck in triplicate is simply more opportunity for the rest of Tennessee's receivers.
"We look at that in a positive way," Kiffin said. "That gives a chance for our young guys, guys that were buried on the depth chart, a chance to come in and contribute right away and play.
"By the time we get rolling, maybe to game three or game four, we may be a stronger receiver unit because of that."
Despite those injuries, though, the Vols still have some contributors at receiver.
Coaches raved about senior Quintin Hancock, the Vols' biggest target at 6-foot-3, throughout spring practice. Hancock was a key role player in a run to the SEC championship game in 2007, catching 16 passes for 165 yards - including a pair of touchdowns in a five overtime win against Kentucky. But last season, despite making his first career start in the season finale against Kentucky, Hancock finished without a catch despite playing in all 12 games.
Still, UT's coaching staff named Hancock the most improved player on offense coming out of spring practice and has high hopes for him this fall.
"I think Quintin's done a fantastic job for us," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said in the spring. "From the first practice in 6 a.m. (workouts) to right now, that young man has been into exactly what we're trying to do as far as effort and physical play. He's done a marvelous job. We can turn on that tape every day, and he indicates by his actions that he understands what we're trying to get done."
Brandon Warren, a freshman All-American tight end at Florida State, spent the spring at wide receiver. He'll get even more work there this fall.
"He's lost some weight," Kiffin said. "Really had a good spring out there. Had a good spring game, did a number of things. He could be one of those guys, because of injuries, that he even gets to play more. We're excited about him."
The Vols are also excited about a pair of newcomers, including Nu'Keese Richardson. The 5-10 speedster was a late defection from Florida on the recruiting trail and was already a major factor in the Vols' plans this fall. But he'll get even more work early because of those injuries.
"He was going to get a great opportunity to play anyway," Kiffin said. "This gives him more of a chance to play. In the reports downstairs from him working out, he's had a great off-season.
"We look for big things from Nu'Keese. Even if those guys were healthy, we were looking for that. This is more of an opportunity for him stepping up."
Same goes for highly sought athlete Marsalis Teague, another recruiting coup for the Vols. Teague, who initially committed to Florida, will begin his career at wide receiver in large part because of the recent injuries.
Tight ends Luke Stocker and Jeff Cottam could also see more passes this fall as well. Stocker in particular impressed coaches with his ability to get open this spring, while Cottam is strong run-blocker when he's healthy.
While injuries mean opportunities, they can sometimes mean a drop off in production. But Moore, like his coach, is looking at the bright side.
"I'm really confident in them," Moore said of his fellow receivers. "They've got the mind-set. It's just really exciting."