11 VOLS Earn NFL Opportunities; Join Drafted Trio

After having three Vols selected during the 2018 NFL Draft, 11 more Vols were rewarded with opportunities from NFL teams by signing free agent deals or earning training camp invitations.

Defensive back Rashaan Gaulden was the first Vol taken in the 2018 draft, going in the third round to the Carolina Panthers with the 85th overall pick. Gaulden can play cornerback, safety or nickel back in the NFL after a standout collegiate career where he proved his versatility by playing at nearly every spot in the defensive backfield. The Spring Hill, Tenn., native finished with 140 tackles, including 9.5 for loss, over 36 games with 19 starts. He had a breakout 2017 redshirt junior season, where he totaled 65 tackles to go along with three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, six passes defended and one interception.

Running back John Kelly and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie were both selected in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

Kelly had a breakout junior campaign in his first year as a starter in 2017, leading the Vols in rushing (778 yards) and receptions (37) in 11 games. The Detroit, Mich., native scored nine touchdowns for the Vols and opened the season with 128 yards and four touchdowns in a double overtime win over Georgia Tech. For his career, Kelly rushed for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns, while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Kelly added 43 receptions for 350 yards and played in 33 games with 12 starts. He finished with five career 100-yard games, including a 141-yard performance at Florida in 2017.

McKenzie had a standout junior season in 2017, making 36 tackles and four TFLs over 11 games with nine starts. A former five-star recruit from Walnut Creek, Calif., McKenzie appeared in 31 games at defensive tackle over his Tennessee career and totaled 72 stops. He had a career-high eight tackles in the season-opening double-overtime victory over Georgia Tech in 2017 and also had a five-stop game at Alabama later in the season.

Joining the three aforementioned players are 11 more former Volunteers who have either signed free agent deals or were invited to NFL training camps.

Free Agent Deals/Training Camp Invitations
KR/DB Evan Berry (Cleveland Browns)
P Trevor Daniel (Houston Texans)
OL Brett Kendrick (Detroit Lions)
LB Colton Jumper (New Orleans Saints)
DB Emmanuel Moseley (San Francisco 49ers)
OL Jashon Robertson (Dallas Cowboys)
DL Kendal Vickers (Pittsburgh Steelers)
TE Ethan Wolf (Tennessee Titans)
DB Shaq Wiggins (New Orleans Saints)
LB Elliott Berry (Kansas City Chiefs)
WR Josh Smith (New Orleans Saints)

Last season, the Vols had 30 players on NFL rosters – a number that is expected to increase with all of the Vols headed to training camps.

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Source: University of Tennessee Athletic Department