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GT vs UT Players to Watch

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Three key players for Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

There will be a number of rising stars stepping into prominent positions Monday night when Georgia Tech and Tennessee complete the week one schedule. New quarterbacks, running backs and defensive playmakers will take center stage for teams that won nine games a piece a season ago, programs that both have a lot to replace.

Here are three players to watch on each side;

Georgia Tech
1. KirVonte Benson, B-Back -- Returning star Dedrick Mills was recently dismissed from the team, leaving a void at one of the offense's key positions; Benson appears ready to fill that void. Though he has yet to run the football in a live game, Benson rushed for 3,587 yards and 36 touchdowns in two years in high school. He, at 5'9'', 211 pounds, has a great combination of speed and strength. Benson's brother runs track in college and his mother also did. Expect Benson to be a focal point on Monday.   

2. Matthew Jordan, QB -- Admittedly, there are four co-starters listed on Georgia Tech's depth chart, but Jordan, from the outside-looking-in, has been the presumptive starter for some time. He has big-game experience, having led the Yellow Jackets to a win at Virginia Tech last fall. Jordan is a sturdier signal caller at 210 pounds and could be a more-effective inside runner. On a stage like this, familiarity has to be considered a major factor and Jordan has been under the bright lights before.  

3. Brant Mitchell, LB -- The junior steps into the spotlight at linebacker. The opening game will be especially meaningful for Mitchell and his family as he is a Knoxville-native who led The Webb School to three state championships and was twice named Tennessee's Mr. Football. Mitchell will set the defensive tone in the middle of the field on what will undoubtedly be an emotional night for him. 

Tennessee
1. Quinten Dormady, QB -- The 6'4'', 222-pound Texas-native gets the first chance to replace Joshua Dobbs. Dormady, a former four-star prospect and a coach's son, has played in ten career games and has 39 career pass attempts so he should be comfortable under center. Don't be surprised if Dormady looks early and often to wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who had 40 receptions in 2016, and tight end Ethan Wolf, who has 67 career catches.

2. Kendal Vickers, DT -- A powerful redshirt senior, the man in the middle will be absolutely-critical against Georgia Tech's triple-option scheme. Vickers will, in many ways, be a catalyst as the Yellow Jackets look to control the line of scrimmage and create rushing lanes. On early downs, disruption from Vickers could force Georgia Tech into difficult third-down circumstances; on short-yardage situations, Vickers will be squarely in the spotlight. Minus Darrin Kirkland roaming behind him, Vickers' play will be even more important.

3. Jashon Robertson, C -- Even with some turnover at quarterback and running back, a player like Robertson is a stabilizing force. With 35 career starts, he is one of the most experienced linemen in all of college football. A move from guard to center, one that has reportedly gone seamlessly, should only make Robertson more impactful up front.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports