By Vince Ferrara
Here are some of my observations and notes from the first University of Tennessee spring football practice.
*We were able to view stretching and the first four periods of practice #1 on Tuesday.
*The QB obsession is on! Most of the media was gathered near the quarterbacks to get any sort of video, photo or eye ball view of the biggest story of the spring and the entire off-season, the quarterback battle. The focus is on two guys, junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano.
*The quarterbacks worked on the deep fade during one period. Both Dormady and Guarantano were long and short with some throws at the start of the drill. Both got into a nice rhythm though and threw some pretty and accurate deep balls.
*New QB coach Mike Canales is non-stop coaching. He’s commenting and coaching details the entire time on every rep in drills when the QBs go one at a time. Just having the extra attention is going to be welcomed.
*The running backs look so small out there when you’re used to seeing massive Jalen Hurd. I know he left last year, but it was a site we grew accustomed to in seeing such a massive human so close to us in the RB group. UT doesn’t have big backs (Kelly at 5’9 and Fils-aime at 5’11) and those are the only two scholarship backs in the spring.
*John Kelly has an alpha personality. You can hear him as loud as any player we were around. He will be mentioned as one of the team leaders by players and coaches this spring.
*Redshirt sophomore Austin Smith has returned to linebacker where he started his career. He was projected to fill a hybrid OLB/DE role last season in the Curt Maggitt mold, but he missed the season due to injuries. That’s also one less defensive lineman in an already razor thin position group. Butch Jones confirmed the move after practice today.
*VFL and former LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin was at practice looking on.
*The 8 players that are out for all of spring practice all were with their position groups adding support. Those 8 are: DT Kendal Vickers, DT Shy Tuttle, DE Kyle Phillips, DB Rashaun Gaulden, DB Micah Abernathy, OT Brett Kendrick, WR Josh Smith, WR Brandon Johnson
*Steve Stripling, no longer an assistant coach, was still at practice roaming around.
*Trey Smith was working drills at left tackle, as expected. He looked good, but it is very early and pads often are a game changer on how players look.
Spend some time on our website where we’ll have blogs from Jimmy Hyams, practice reports from Josh Ward, interviews with players and coaches, videos of practice footage. Scroll through our big stories on the main page or click on the Vols tab under “All WNML stories” archived to find all of our posts saved there.