Last season the Vols hardly received any consistent production from the tight end position, as the unit only put together 15 catches for 98 yards and three touchdowns in a dozen games.

Whether the poor play was attributed to injuries or a lack of confidence in the quarterback, the team believes that will not be an issue this season with the new talent at the position.

With the way true freshman early enrollees Ethan Wolf and Daniel Helm have turned heads over the spring and in training camp so far, they have instilled a confidence and excitement in their head coach.

"Those two individuals, I've been really, really pleased with them so far," Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. "We've been really pleased with Ethan Wolf. He continues to get better and better and better."

Senior Brendan Downs was often the only tight end available to play last season due to injuries sustained by A.J. Branisel and Alex Ellis. All three tight ends were hurt in the spring so Wolf and Helm were thrown in the fire.

"The spring had its negative and positives," Wolf said. "We were young, so we really didn't know what we were doing, so there were a lot of mistakes made. But even though Brendan wasn't on the field, he was helping us mentally be where we were supposed to be. And on the offensive line, everyone was great."

After a summer in the weight room and following Dave Lawson's strength and conditioning program the group looks ready to go. They will need to be given how much Tennessee will want to use them this year.

"We need production from that position," Jones said. "We like to play with a tight end, but we'd also like to get into more two-tight end sets as well. Each individual in this group has their own strengths, but they're athletic, they're tough."

Helm, who was rated the No. 1 tight end recruit by Rivals, has already displayed his unique catching ability in practice and on the second day of training camp made an impressive diving catch while maintaining possession when hitting the Haslam Field turf.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Wolf is more of a stocky build than the slender but built Helm, who comes in at 6-foot-4, 240-pounds. Wolf's skill set has diversified since arriving with the team for spring football.

"Ethan has the combination where he can play as an attached tight end, and he can be a detached tight end out on the perimeter," he said. "He's really improved his blocking skills, too."

This summer former Vol Jason Witten and current Dallas Cowboys standout came back to visit and work with the team motivated Wolf in a big way.

"I grew up watching Jason (Witten) play, and he came over here and worked out with us," Wolf said. "He inspired me as a tight end, so I figured I'd honor him by wearing his jersey number that he wears in the NFL. Unfortunately I couldn't get No. 1 because Jalen's (Hurd) got it, but I'm proud to wear No. 82."

In Witten's three years at Tennessee, he caught 68 passes for 797 yards and seven touchdowns. One can only think Wolf and the other tight ends would like to imitate his game on the field in the upcoming seasons for the Vols.

"We got a lot of work done (with Witten), and I took some tips here and there, and it's really helped me throughout the camp. It was great."

Wolf along with the other tight ends this season are ready for their opportunity out on the field and want their quarterback to trust them when thrown to.

"We're trying as hard as we can to make plays. When the ball is thrown to us, and the quarterback's gonna trust us, we've got to make sure that ball's a catch.

"Our main goal right now is when we get our opportunities, we've got to make the most of them."