A year ago, no one outside of Knoxville knew much about Tennessee Vols wide receiver Cedric Tillman.

And even folks in Knoxville didn’t know a ton about the Las Vegas native.

Tillman, a late addition to the Vols’ 2018 signing class, caught just eight passes during his first three seasons at Tennessee.

Last season, however, Tillman exploded for 1,081 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 64 receptions. It was the fourth most receiving yards in a season ever by a Vols wide receiver.

Nov 13, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) runs the ball past Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Derion Kendrick (11) during the third quarter at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

As good as Tillman was last season, he should be even better for the Volunteers in 2022.

And that’s not just because he’ll have another year of experience in Josh Heupel’s offense.

It’s also because Tillman has put in a lot of work this offseason to be a better route runner in 2022. That’s partially because he knows teams will defend him a bit differently after this breakout season last year.

“I have always had confidence in myself and have known what I can do,” said Tillman on Monday. “This year there have been a few things I have changed preparation wise, but I am excited about the season and have all the confidence in the world. Whatever I can do to help my team win is what I plan to do.”

“Just releases, knowing more, and having to read defenses better because I know we probably will get more safety help over the top now, compared to last year,” added Tillman when asked about his preparation changes. “That is why route running has become a better thing for me because I know there will be more attention. I just have to be more crisp and execute better. “

Heupel has liked what he’s seen from Tillman this offseason — specifically his consistency.

“For him, he’s been so consistent,” said Heupel on Monday while discussing Tillman. “You guys see the confidence, who he is, and what he’s about. He’s got a great understanding of how to prepare. His on-field performance has continued to get better. I expect him to have a big night and have a big year.”

Tillman’s work to be a better route runner, combined with the consistency he’s displayed during camp, could lead to one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen from a Tennessee wide receiver.

Could Tillman break Robert Meachem’s school record for receiving yards (1,298) in a season?

It won’t be easy, but I absolutely think Tillman can cruise past that mark in 2022.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK