The receiver spot is a major point of interest the spring at Tennessee, as the Volunteers break in several new faces. It’s time for a few blue-chip prospects to show us what they’ve got as they learn a completely new offense. A new face is coaching the group this year, as former Auburn Tiger Kodi Burns takes over the spot from Tee Martin.
Burns, a former SEC wide receiver, is uniquely qualified to bring a couple of young Tennessee receivers up to speed. Both Jimmy Calloway and Jimmy Holiday signed with Tennessee as athletes, each playing the quarterback position in high school.
“You talk about the two Jimmy’s, both of those guys were quarterbacks in high school,” Burns said on Tuesday. “Really, it’s just about translating those skills to the wide receiver position. It’s my job to develop and bring those guys along.”
Burns knows all about that. He moved from quarterback to receiver in his senior year at Auburn after Cam Newton arrived. That transition happened suddenly and late in his playing career, and it might just pay off when it comes to Calloway and Holiday.
“My story is very similar to a couple of guys that we have on our team right now,” Burns said. “I was a quarterback my entire life. That’s what I did. That’s who I was. I had never caught a pass in my life. Once I was a junior in college, I actually ended up moving to wide receiver. That transition for me was not that difficult because I understood coverages. I understood the run game. I understood the pass game. I understood leverage. I understood what defenses were trying to take away and do. That made me more knowledgeable as a player.”
Calloway is a former four-star prospect that ranked just outside of the top 200 in the class of 2020. Holiday is a former three-star prospect ranking just outside of the top 500 players in the same class. Each guy has an opportunity to make an impact this spring and beyond, following the exit of Brandon Johnson and Josh Palmer.
Joining them in that hunt will be Jalin Hyatt and Malachi Wideman, both former four-star prospects in the 2020 class.
“We’ve got to really bring those guys along,” Burns said of the sophomore receivers. “They’re all very talented. Right now, I’m really focusing on developing those guys, teaching them how to practice, how we do things at Tennessee, how to play up-tempo, simple things that we call ball mechanics. We’re teaching those guys how we play. There’s no question that all four have talent. We’ve just got to truly grow them and develop them into the wide receiver position.”