Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Even as late as the Florida game, Tennessee fans would wait with bated breath on every kick. At times last year, Derek Dooley wouldn't even send a returner back to field the punt. When the head coach doesn't trust anyone to even field a punt, how can a team even generate a positive outcome from a 3rd down stop? A touchback is an accomplishment. Oh what a difference a single player can make. In just three games this year (Buffalo, Georgia, LSU), Devrin Young has rejuvenated kick-off and punt returns.
Now fans get excited when the opposing team trots out the punt team. Now fans have a glimmer of hope after the opponent scores. All DY needs is a seam, and we can re-take the momentum of this game! He seems to have the perfect combination of quickness, elusiveness, acceleration, and vision to be a special, special player. Against LSU, DY broke off a 60-yard return, and the stadium erupted like we'd just scored a go-ahead touchdown against the #1 team in the nation.
Sure, we've seen flashes. Nu'Keese Richardson and David Oku recently gave us hope. Neither are still on the team. Da'Rick Rogers had a really nice return last year against Kentucky, but he couldn't make it to the end zone. DY hasn't gotten there yet, but I'm convinced he will. Maybe he houses one this weekend against Alabama? How awesome would it be? It'd be like pulling down the orang-colored sun shade on the memory of Javier Arenas.
So many times Tennessee fans are left scratching their heads at players Tennessee doesn't sign. Especially those from this area, who go play at other SEC schools, become All-SEC and All-America, and even make an impact in the NFL. Randall Cobb should immediately come to mind. DY may not be the offensive machine Randall Cobb was, but he's still an exciting player, and he definitely has big-play potential. Derek Dooley took a chance on the little fella from Bearden High, and he's come in and made an immediate impact. He basically walked in the door being proclaimed the savior of UT return specialists, and he's lived up to the hype. He's even had an impact in the offense. He's a small, quick, and elusive scat back who runs with a purpose. He's not afraid of contact, and it's really exciting when he gets the ball.
Devrin Young is a high-energy player who didn't get away. Tennessee went out an found a return specialist, and even though he was a 3-star recruit per rivals, Derek Dooley was confident DY could be the guy Tennessee needed. Aside from dropping a weight bar on his chest, fracturing his clavicle, and missing 3 games, I see no reason to think he won't be a special player wearing the Orange for several years to come.