By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Below are my observations from the University of Tennessee’s 3rd spring practice of 2019 at Haslam Field in Knoxville on Monday.
Vince’s View – Practice 3
*It was the first full day in pads
*Jr OL Trey Smith was in uniform with his helmet but was not participating in the drills we saw. He’s engaged in every single practice rep of his teammates trying to help them out
*WR coach/Pass Game Coordinator Tee Martin is a different personality than some of the other Vols coaches. He has a direct and very positive demeanor while still teaching and correcting technique. I’m not saying its better or worse, just different than the styles of some of the others, in my opinion.
*R-Jr Jarrett Guarantano has a bulky left knee brace which I’m sure he would say doesn’t affect him. It may just be a precaution, like OLs take, but it’s something to monitor after the punishment he took a year ago. He may still take similar punishment this season.
*The QBs again today threw a lot of high and errant passes while I watched them. Of course, it’s just a small sample of their two-hour practice.
*The WRs continued to do a nice job, making tough catches and looking determined to get better
*I think Sr LB Daniel Bituli looks explosive. Jeremy Pruitt is looking for more communication and consistency this season,which he has already shown.
*So DL John Mincey has shown violent hands and has been complimented numerous times on the execution and physicality of his drills. UT needs development on the defensive front in a massive way. It’s still too early to declare anything with Mincey, but he’s off to a nice start.
*Several players that were said to be banged-up or held back did practice while we were there…Sr. DL Emmit Gooden, RS-Fr. LB JJ Peterson and R-Sr OL Brandon Kennedy
*R-Sr. LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. is out for the spring
*Fr. RB Eric Gray seems unlikely to return as Jeremy Pruitt did not mention him among those that could start practicing at some point. Although, Gray is doing cardio work on the side with Fields and trainers.
*Others that may return include Fr OL Chris Akporoghene, R-Fr DL Kurott Garland, Fr DB Tyus Fields
*Here are the guards/interior linemen in the offensive line drills we’ve seen: Brandon Kennedy, R-Jr Ryan Johnson, So Jerome Carvin, R-Jr Nathan Niehaus, Jr Riley Locklear, R-So Eric Crosby, R-Fr Ollie Lane (Chris Akporoghene is expected to join this group at some point this spring)
*Here are the tackles in the offensive line drills we’ve seen: Fr Wanya Morris, Sr Marcus Tatum, R-Jr Jahmir Johnson, R-So K’Rojhn Calbert
*Jahmir Johnson looks like he’s returned to his original tackle position after being moved to guard and starting there for UT last season
*Nathan Niehaus was the first OT off the bench numerous times last year when Trey Smith came out of the game and he did fine at LT. With the two stud 5-star tackles coming in this year, he may slide back inside, where he’s played before. He also could be just cross-training, so we’ll keep an eye on it.
*Another loud voice you hear on the field is TEs coach Brian Niedermeyer. His energy level is insane. He has a real talent in Sr TE Dominick Wood-Anderson at the top of his group. The rest really will rely on his development and more strength and conditioning because it is a raw, inexperienced bunch. His coaching will be tested, if they have the right guys.
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