Jalin Hyatt bypassing Orange Bowl, senior season; Vols land four-star linebacker

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee junior receiver Jalin Hyatt walks off the field following the 56-0 victory at Vanderbilt on Nov. 26, which wound up being his final game with the Volunteers.

The first Biletnikoff Award winner in Tennessee history is off to the National Football League.

Jalin Hyatt, who was named the Biletnikoff recipient last Thursday night, announced Wednesday afternoon via social media that he was bypassing his senior season in Knoxville and would not be playing in the Orange Bowl against Clemson on Dec. 30. Hyatt added that he would be making the trip to Miami to support his teammates, who are trying to clinch the program's first 11-win season since 2001.

"Where do I even begin?" Hyatt said in his Twitter post. "The past three years have been filled with so many ups and downs and have helped me become the man I am today. Together with my brothers and coaches, we built this program back where it deserves to be — among the best in the country.

"It has been such a rewarding experience to be a Tennessee Volunteer."

Fifth-year senior receiver Cedric Tillman announced last week that he would be skipping the Orange Bowl in order to get a head start on his NFL opportunity. Both Hyatt and Tillman were pegged earlier this week as second-round picks by Pro Football Network, but USA Today recently projected Hyatt to go late in the first round.

Hyatt, a 6-foot, 180-pounder from Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, South Carolina, showed promise as a freshman in 2020 with 276 receiving yards that included a 48-yard touchdown against Alabama. He did not build on those numbers as a sophomore, however, when he was a reserve receiver in Josh Heupel's offense and amassed 226 yards.

After insisting throughout this past offseason that he was more dedicated and focused, Hyatt racked up 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns, with his scoring count tying for the national lead and setting a single-season Tennessee standard. In his second appearance against the Crimson Tide inside Neyland Stadium, he hauled in five touchdown catches.

In other news Wednesday, the Vols received their 25th commitment for the 2023 signing cycle, snagging a nonbinding pledge from four-star linebacker Arion Carter from Smyrna High School near Nashville. The 6-1, 215-pounder is the nation's No. 13 linebacker and the No. 159 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com rankings, and he is the Volunteer State's No. 2 recruit behind Murfreesboro Riverdale edge rusher and fellow Vols commitment Caleb Herring.

Carter, according to 247Sports.com, took official visits recently to Ohio State, Tennessee and Alabama before picking the Vols over the Crimson Tide.

With a week to go before next Wednesday's start to college football's early signing period, the Vols have the nation's No. 9 class of commitments.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.