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Tennessee early enrollee Trey Smith met with the media for the first time in spring camp on Tuesday after the Vols completed their 10th practice.
Rhiannon Potkey/USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

What I’m most looking forward to in Tennessee’s season opener:

No. 73

But you don’t need to see Trey Smith’s number to identify him.

Just look for the Tennessee offensive lineman who best resembles a future NFL player. He’s 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, and good enough to start as a freshman.

Follow the ball if you want, but I will be watching Smith on his first play, just so I can say — when he’s drafted in the first round — that I remember his first contact in college.

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Kickoffs

They often sail out of the end zone or land in the arms of a returner who, seconds later,  crashes into a pile of defenders somewhere between his team’s 20 and 30. But at some point in the season opener, there’s a chance Georgia Tech will make the mistake of kicking the ball to UT All-America returner Evan Berry.

► More: 5 things about Vols vs. Georgia Tech

And when it does, there’s a chance Berry won’t stop running until he’s in the Yellow Jackets end zone.

Punts

Tennessee’s Trevor Daniel could have more of an impact than usual. His distance and consistency as a punter frequently could force Georgia Tech to drive long distances for its points.

In an offense that will rely on a new quarterback reading the defense on handoffs and pitchouts, the farther Georgia Tech has to go, the greater the chance for a turnover.

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Tennessee Quarterback Quinton Dormandy during Media Day.

Quarterbacks

Hopefully, both Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano will play. I’m not suggesting Tennessee should rotate the two quarterbacks, but they have earned playing time during their competition that began in the spring and stretched through preseason training camp.

If Dormady starts as expected, UT at least should give Guarantano an opportunity to show what he can do in a game situation.

► Adams: Vols season will go like this in 2017

Receivers

The receiving end of UT’s passing game should be interesting, too, mainly because sophomores Tyler Byrd, Marquez Callaway, and Brandon Johnson — all four-star recruits — will have a greater opportunity to show their talent after playing sparingly last season. Moreover, coach Butch Jones has been praising freshman Josh Palmer since preseason camp opened. 

Tennessee defensive back Nigel Warrior (18) stretches during a University of Tennessee fall football practice at Anderson Training Facility in Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (Photo: CAITIE MCMEKIN/NEWS SENTINEL)

Nigel Warrior

If you have been here long enough, you can remember how good Tennessee All-America defensive back Dale Carter was. That can’t help but raise your expectations for Carter’s son, Warrior. After a year in UT’s system, the sophomore safety could be ready to excel.

63 Strain

Jones calls for three great efforts in six seconds. No one is more capable of living up to that slogan than running back John Kelly, whose furious running style makes even the short runs worth watching.

► More: Jumper ready for bigger role at LB with Kirkland out

Tennessee fans

A new season and a new stadium in nearby Atlanta will bring out the best in UT fans, who have a history of rising to the occasion on a big stage. Take last season’s Battle at Bristol, for example.

And this time, they actually will be close enough to see the field. Georgia Tech’s offense will feel — and hear — their presence.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or john.adams@knoxnews.com. Follow him at: Twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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