Tennessee's football team is still very much a mystery heading into the 2018 season.

The Vols have a new coaching staff in place that must sort out a largely unproven or underwhelming roster boosted this offseason by more than two dozen new additions, including five junior college transfers and three graduate transfers.

The reality is any number of players could be wildcards for Tennessee in 2018.

Athlon Sports on Monday revealed its picks of two wildcard players for each SEC team this season and chose wide receiver Jauan Jennings and defensive lineman Shy Tuttle as the two Vols who could sway Tennessee's win total one way or the other based on their performance.

Jennings was the second-leading receiver for the Vols during his breakout sophomore season in 2016, but his junior season ended after just two quarters as he was sidelined with a wrist injury suffered against Georgia Tech. Days before the finale against Vanderbilt, Jennings was dismissed from the program by then-interim coach Brady Hoke and then-athletic director John Currie after he posted a tirade against the coaching staff on his Instagram. It was a puzzling and much-criticized decision at the time.

When Jeremy Pruitt and Phillip Fulmer took over those respective posts, Jennings expressed his desire to return to the Vols, and he's been back in the good graces of the program essentially for the entire offseason, albeit with a to-do list and new set of standards that frankly were necessary to manage his unique personality.

Here's what Athlon had to say about Jennings:

Jennings was dismissed from the program by the previous coaching regime in November, but he's back with a new opportunity to prove his worth under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt. An offseason surgery rendered him unavailable for spring practice, robbing the "wild card" from a chance to rebuild chemistry after injuring himself in the season-opening win against Georgia Tech last fall. Jennings caught 40 passes for 580 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2016 season. A return to that level of production would be a huge win for a Volunteers offense in desperate search for playmakers.

Tuttle had his first two seasons at Tennessee shortened by significant injuries, one a lower leg injury and the second a knee injury. He wasn't quite fully healthy last season either but played plenty of snaps as the first defensive tackle off the bench behind Kendal Vickers and Kahlil McKenzie. Both starters are gone, and Tuttle finally has an offseason where he's healthy enough to go through spring practice and focus on improving as a player.

The former top-100 prospect has one final chance to be what the Vols have longed hoped he could be as an interior defensive lineman for Tennessee's new-look defense.

Here's what Athlon wrote about Tuttle:

It's widely agreed upon that SEC football games are won and lost in the trenches, so rescuing a program that was 0-8 in the league in 2017 likely will require some serious improvement on both lines. Jeremy Pruitt wants to establish a brand of tough, physical football in Knoxville. That's a start. Tuttle has the ability and the experience to be a driving force in implementing that brand. Can the senior shake off injuries and become the interior line star that Vols fans have envisioned?

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