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Jalin Hyatt wins the Biletnikoff award, the first for a Vol receiver

On3 imageby:Brent Hubbs12/08/22

Brent_Hubbs

The Tennessee football program, referred to as wide receiver U for decades, has it’s first ever Bilentnikoff award winner. 

Vol junior Jalin Hyatt was announced as the winner Thursday night. 

Hyatt burst onto the scene this fall as the Vols went 10-2 and earned a spot in the Orange Bowl. 

Hyatt leads the SEC in yards with 1,267 on 67 receptions.  Hyatt is only 32 yards away from setting the Tennessee all time single season record currently held by Robert Meachem who had 1,298 yards in 2006. 

The South Carolina native leads the nation in touchdown receptions with 15. As a sophomore, Hyatt battled injuries, confidence and desire as he had just 226 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 receptions. 

“Last year it was hard on me,” Hyatt stated. “I think I lost my confidence. I didn’t really know the offense as well as I know it this year. I wasn’t going as hard last year. Velus (Jones) helped me a lot when he was here. He was the guy who stood up and took over the role when I couldn’t. Just watching him and how he played receiver and what you can do when you are playing well. I think that was one of the biggest reasons (for changing).  In high school, I didn’t really go through a lot of adversity because high school is kind of easy as far as football. When you get up here in the SEC, you are going against big time players, I needed to change my mindset.”

Hyatt’s change in mindset was obvious from the start of spring practice. That mindset translated into huge production especially when Cedric Tillman was out and Hyatt was the focal point for the passing game. Over a five game stretch in the middle of the season, Hyatt had 27 catches for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns. During that span, Hyatt averaged 23.7 yards a catch. Just a crazy number. 

In the middle of that was a dominating 5 touchdown, 207 yard day against Alabama on national television that went a long way in Hyatt being named the top receiver in the country on Thursday. 

Hyatt’s work this fall has put him in a position to have to make a decision about his future. Will he go pro? Most feel like he will as he has shot up draft boards and is a late first round pick in many mock drafts. Then of course there is the question of the bowl game. Will he go for the single season record and play in Tennessee’s Orange Bowl match up with Clemson on December 30th or will he opt out? A decision we expect to come pretty quickly. 

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