I admit that I am biased, but I do think the Mocs are a really talented team that are motivated and well coached. Does that mean I'm booking my trip to Frisco? No way, there are a lot of good teams out there, and just because a team is talented, motivated, and well coached doesn't mean there aren't a million things that could go wrong and I think to go to the National Championship you need to have luck go your way at least a time or two during the season or playoffs.
Heck I think the SoCon is going to be brutal in and of itself. The way it looks now, I think the SoCon might be the best "top to bottom" conference in the country - no longer do we have a VMI or WCU where you can start the celebratory drinks prior to the game starting. Every team is going to be a tough out.
Here's my take on the Mocs:
Quarterback - This was the biggest question mark for the fall season (and still probably is). Drayton Arnold has had some good games and some bad games, and to be honest, I'm never sure which Dray we are going to get. Cole Copeland got to play some this spring, and does some nice things too, but is still playing his first football in two years. We also had Chattanooga native and former Mercer QB Robert Riddle come home for the fall season. He proved to be a pretty darn good QB in his two partial seasons in Macon. If he's healthy you have to assume he has the upper hand in the QB competition in the spring. Is he healthy? - I have no idea. If Riddle returns to his previous form, we should be set, if not our success will be on the development of either Drayton or Copeland.
Running Back - If QB is our biggest question mark, the RB spot is our most solid spot. We have Ailym Ford returning and I think he's the best back in the SoCon, but we have other great backs too. Most people forget about Tyrell Price, who was an all-SoCon selection prior to tearing his ACL and making way for Ailym. Price ran pretty well in the spring and is well motivated to have a good final year. Gino Appleberry split time with Price in the spring and is going to be a really good back too. Jeffery Wood - the fastest man in Tennessee according to Jim Harghbaugh is a threat every time he touches the ball. He too is coming off an ACL tear (we had 3 running backs go down with ACL tears in 2019) and will likely split time between RB and WR. We also have Lance Jackson, a RS Freshman that never had a carry until he started the Mercer game this year. He looked good too with over 100 yards in his collegiate debut.
Wideout - Losing Nunnelly hurt but that lead to the emergence of Reggie Henderson, who just caught anything thrown his way in the spring. Henderson was a converted defensive back and has worked really hard to make himself into a great player and it appears he's done just that. Local product Andrew Manning doesn't have Nunnelly's speed, but has done a pretty good impression in the spring with his sure handed catches. We have a few more experienced wideouts in KAnore McKinnon, Tyrin Summers, and Tyuron Arnett, but also had some young guys step up and Jamoi Mays looked particularly good in the spring, and Tyler Smith has the coaches excited as well.
Tight End - All American Chris James will be back in the fall along with USC Transfer KeShawn Toney who had some amazing looking catches on his practice film. Juwan Tyus who has moved back and forth between WR and TE is a mismatch machine, and Jay Gibson who started in the spring has shown he can catch passes as well as block. I don't know how much he'll play this year but Freshman Travon Jones will make an impact here before he leaves.
Offensive Line - We have an experienced group here with headlined by Cole Strange. We have two other seniors Harrison Moon and Kyle Miskelley who will hopefully be back after a spring injury. If he's not we also have Blake Mitchell, a graduate transfer from APSU and All-OVC selection at Center. I was worried about depth at the position, but when Miskelley went out in the first series of the Furman game, true freshman Reid Williams stepped in and did just fine, and we started an all freshman group against Mercer getting them valuable experience - I think we have more depth than I thought.
Defensive Line - We have a talented and deep D-Line with All American Devonnsha Maxwell leading that group off along with fellow Juniors Christian Smith, Ben Brewton, and Giovanni Reviere. We also have a bunch of really talented freshman with John Prince, Marlon Taylor, and Quay Wiggles - who all got a BUNCH of snaps in the spring.
Outside Linebacker - Ty Boeck and Jay Person are two pretty good starters and we have some experienced backups in Tez Wilson and CJ Winston, and few freshman that got some spring snaps in Justin Sanders, Trevon Stanford, Bo Spearman (who will be a beast before he leaves), and Daniel Brent.
Inside Linebacker - Kam Jones is as solid as they come, but I am worried about depth here. Walkon Christian Snyder came in and had 20 tackles in his first start against Mercer, but I'm not sure if he'll be back as he graduated in the spring even though he's only listed as a Junior. If he doesn't return, we may have to get creative here.
Safety - We have an experienced and talented group here. Long term starters Brandon Dowdell and Jerrell Lawson return along with DJ Jackson who's started a bunch of games for us at all different spots of the defensive backfield. We have more experience there too with Zay Brown who started in the spring, and Romeo Wykle, who started for LaFeyette before he transferred back home to Chattanooga. We've also got some talented freshman in Jordan Walker, who played in the spring, and Josh Battle and Rio Blige.
Jack - We'll play some different guys here but Rashun Freeman is the main guy and he's been a solid player for a long time. He's backed up by freshman Reuben Lowery who played in the spring.
Corner - We have four guys who've started games here. Jordan Jones is the most experienced, but Camiron Smith and Kam Brown have played a bunch too, and Jalen "Jet" Lee is looking really good as a freshmen. I expect Telly Plummer and JD Harris to be in the mix too.
This should be the best Moc team in at least five years. Hopefully we can take advantage of our talent and make a playoff run.