Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt poised for breakout year despite battling adversity
Hyatt scored the Vols’ first touchdown of the 2022 season.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - As summer workouts came to a close and the start of the 2022 season inched closer, Jalin Hyatt’s name began to circulate throughout the Tennessee facilities. Hyatt’s progress was getting noticed by seemingly everyone. Hyatt persevered through obstacles both on and off the field, positioning himself to have that stellar season.
WVLT Sports sat down with Hyatt to talk about his journey since the end of the 2021 season.
“I believe I can be the best in the country,” said Hyatt.
Hyatt added, “That’s the mindset you want to have especially in the SEC. You’re going against great guys, day in and day out even in practice. And we play the big teams, you’re going against great guys again. So if you go out there and you believe you’re the best player in the league or in the country, you can put that on film.”
Many projected the 2021 season would’ve been Hyatt’s breakout year, but injuries and mental health derailed those expectations. As Hyatt struggled to meet those expectations as one of the top receivers on the team, Velus Jones Jr. took him under his wing.
“He’s always been a big brother to me by the time he got on campus. And when he had the year he had, I was going through some struggles last year just off the field, not even on the field. Just him being a big brother, he was always there every step of the way. Even when he left, he’ll call me, text me, check up on me. And I think that’s a big brother because I’m a big brother to my little brother,” said Hyatt.
When Hyatt senses himself slipping back into his old mindset, he looks at himself in the mirror and asks if he’s doing what’s necessary to make himself proud.
“I have a lot of people that love me, and I started to realize that even when things weren’t going right for me, people were still in my corner. And that just for me, it just made me more hungry, and I just want to do it for them,” said Hyatt.
Since Hyatt’s time on Rocky Top, he is most proud of the adversity he has faced. “I just want to show this is my first time really going through a lot of adversity. I think I have a lot of people dependent on me so I’m just getting through adversity, showing people that even when you don’t do what you want to do, you have the chance to do it again. It’s all about opportunities, and you just got to take advantage of it,” said Hyatt.
It’s now year two under Josh Heupel’s system and like the rest of the team, Hyatt is ready to run through the ‘T’ and show what they can do in this high-octane offense.
“We got our guy. We got our coach, and the team and the players were all starting to correlate. We’re all starting to be together, and it really shows a brotherhood. I think that’s really the biggest reason why you know, we push so hard,” said Hyatt.
Hyatt had a career day in the win over Akron on Sept. 17, recording 166 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as a 57-yard reception, all career bests.
He tallied a career-high 11 catches for 73 yards in a win at then #17 Pitt on Sept. 10, tying for the fifth-most receptions in a game in school history.
Hyatt started the season by taking the first offensive play of the season, a pass from Hendon Hooker, 23 yards before diving into the end zone for a touchdown.
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