So, with the departure of himself, fellow senior Bret Smith and first-round NFL Draft pick Robert Meachem leaving Tennessee perilously thin at wideout, you'd figure that Jayson Swain would give a mildly pessimistic appraisal of the position outlook heading into 2007.
Meachem, Swain and Smith combined for 60 percent of the Vols' receptions, 71 percent of the receiving yards and 92 percent of the receiving touchdowns in 2006. With them gone, the Big Orange must reply on unproven guys such as Quintin Hancock, Austin Rogers, Lucas Taylor and Josh Briscoe.
So what does Swain, fresh from an unsuccessful tryout with the NFL's Chicago Bears, think of the returning cast at wide receiver?
“I know they have talent,” he said. “I know they’re young and inexperienced but, with hard work this summer and getting their bodies where they need to be, I think that will pick some of the slack up for their lack of experience when they go out there on Saturdays.”
When asked how the new cast of wideouts will perform this fall, however, even a straight shooter like Swain found himself hedging a bit.
“It’ll be interesting to see so many new faces out there at receiver,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Tennessee also has some concerns in the offensive line, where it must replace All-American Arron Sears and two-year starter David Ligon. The Vols have three good tailbacks – Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty – but all have been bothered by injuries in the past. So has quarterback Erik Ainge.
So, what does Swain think about the offensive outlook for 2007?
“I haven’t even looked at everything yet,” he said. “But, from past years and the way people work around here, I think it’s going to be a special year again.”