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July 18, 2013

Most intriguing newcomer?

One of the favorite summer time questions and discussions centers around the incoming signees. As our five big questions surrounding the Vols for 2013 continues, the focus today is on the newest Vols and who we think are the most intriguing newcomers.

Who's the most intriguing newcomer?
John's Pick
Without placing an unfair amount of pressure around the already considerable expectations for MarQuez North, he's my pick for the most intriguing newcomer.

North is relatively new to the receiver position, having only played it a limited amount in high school because he was so dynamic with the ball in his hands that he often played quarterback.

But North showed a blend of skills that made comparisons to bigger-body former Vols wideouts Cordarrelle Patterson, Da'Rick Rogers and others inevitable. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, North has the physical frame to adapt quickly to the college game, is a smart player who has openly discussed perhaps attending law school in the future and steps into a Vols' offense replacing its top four receivers from a year ago.

North also is expected to throw his name in the ring to potentially be one of the Vols' kick returners, an area in which he excelled for Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C.

How much North dives into the playbook to study the nuances and how consistently he approaches every practice and every opportunity will go a long way in determining if he can be a breakout player in his freshman campaign.

Brent's Pick
I'm picking Corey Vereen. He's creating quite the buzz with his individual early morning workouts and certainly made a pretty quick name for himself in the spring with his ability to cause some havoc on offensive tackles.

Now, I've been caught up in the hype before (see Curt Maggitt in August of his true freshman year) but given the fact that Vereen has 15 practices and a full nine months in Dave Lawson's summer program, I think he can help this defense in different situations this fall.

It seems like it's been years since the Vol defense has gotten any kind of consistent pressure off the edge at the defensive end position without having to blitz the house. If Vereen can provide some quarterback pressures this fall, it would be a huge help to this defense and that's why he's my most intriguing newcomer.

Rob's Pick
With holes to fill at some key positions, a number of spots exist where an enterprising newcomer could make a quick impact for Tennessee this fall. Additionally, it looks like an especially good year to be a capable junior college transfer joining the Vols' roster. Which is why cornerback Riyahd Jones looks like one of the more intriguing new faces on the roster to me at the moment.

Jones had a solid start to spring before being slowed by a knee injury in the latter half. At 6-foot-0, 180 pounds Jones has solid size for the position and he flashed some athleticism in the spring before going on the shelf.

That's not to say that he's proven anything to any degree, but he's a solid looking prospect at a position whose depth chart is just about devoid of any meaningful experience. Jones is arguably the fall camp starter opposite Justin Coleman, the lone player with starting experience back at corner.

Opportunity simply abounds at corner, both for a starting spot and roles in nickel and dime packages. Jones is one newcomer will have an excellent shot at grabbing all the playing time he can handle if he has a strong fall camp.

Paul's Pick
Rob and I may have the same answer, but for good reason. Woody Quinn has the opportunity to make a big impact on this team this fall. With little depth at tight end and the presumed starter at tight end, Brendan Downs still not quite himself, Quinn will likely have the opportunity to play a lot of snaps this fall.

Already at 6-foot-6, 253-pounds, Quinn has a very athletic background playing volleyball his first two years in college before making the switch to football. The way Jones likes to use the tight end in his offense means that someone at that position will have the chance to catch a number of passes and with the lack of experience and go-to players at receiver, Quinn could make a big impact. Not to mention, he's shown good leadership this summer for the Vols. I'm very intrigued to see Quinn with pads on come August.

Austin's Pick
I'm really excited to see what Jalen Reeves-Maybin does this fall. After setting out in the spring due to shoulder surgery, he has a chance to earn playing time early on special teams. By midseason I think he has a chance to work his way into nickel situations on defense. JRM was a natural leader at the high school level and played that same role in recruiting.

It's a Tennessee secondary that needs playmakers and while not being healthy in the spring set him back, it won't hold him down. The cream always rises and Reeves Maybin has the feel of a special player. The work ethic is there and so is the football IQ. How quick will he find the field for meaningful snaps? I'm not sure, but I would bet sooner before later.

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