Tennessee defensive backs during Vol Football Fall Camp on Friday. Photo by Rocky Top Insider/Ric Butler.
Tennessee football hit the Haslam Practice Field Saturday morning for its fourth fall practice. The Vols were in shells again but are working closer-and-closer to putting the full pads on him.
The media got to watch just three periods of practice, roughly 20 minutes, so as always there’s only so many takeaways to gather.
Here’s our notes and observations from practice the Vols’ fourth fall practice.
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Still no injuries to report on from the offensive side of the ball. Guard Javontez Spraggins spent some of the warm up time trying to fit a sleeve over his taped up, cleats on foot and putting a knee brace on but it was all standard offensive line equipment and he was active the rest of practice.
Tennessee’s quarterbacks and running backs worked on RPOs at the beginning of practice. A grad assistant played defensive end forcing the quarterbacks to make a live read. Jabari Small led the way for running backs in the drill followed by Jaylen Wright, Dylan Sampson, Cam Seldon and DeSean Bishop.
This isn’t exactly new information as he was here in the spring but add Seldon to the list of Vol freshmen that physically look like an upper class-men.
The running backs later made there way to a competition drill with inside linebacker. Tennessee’s inside linebackers practiced blitzing while Tennessee’s tight ends and running backs picked up the blitzes. I’ll have more details in the defensive section but the offense definitely won the drill.
Some really good reps from Jabari Small and tight end Charlie Browder stood out. Raw freshman Emmanuel Okoye was picking things up quickly and performed well himself.
On to the routes on air portion of practice. It was probably the best routes on air portion of practice we’ve seen here in early August. Both Joe Milton III and Nico Iamaleava were on time and accurate with the football.
Receiver’s coach Kelsey Pope was verbally very pleased with his receiver room during the action. Dont’e Thornton made a nice leaping catch on a pass over the middle and continues to impress. The 6-foot-5 speedster is coming into his own after getting here in the spring and could be poised for a big season.
The only absences I noted were safety Wesley Walker and STAR Tamarion McDonald. Walker wasn’t working with the Vols’ safeties and I couldn’t spot him across the field working with corners— though I can’t say it’s impossible that he could have been. The same goes for McDonald. The STAR spot usually drills with the safeties and he wasn’t there. It’s possible he was on the other side of the field with the corners but I didn’t spot him.
Besides Walker, everyone was out there and accounted for with no one working off to the side or in a red non contact jersey.
With Tennessee nearing the full pads portion of fall practice, the Vols’ defense was working on a lot of tackling fundamentals work. Not that it’s a rarity— especially in the open portion of practice— but there seemed to be a concerted effort for more contact as the Vols’ prepare to put the pads on.
For the safeties it was doing tackling drills on pads. With Walker absent, McCollough led the way in reps followed by Jourdan Thomas, Andre Turrentine, Christian Charles and the rest of the group.
At linebacker it was block shedding and wrap up and drive contact on fellow linebackers serving as ball carriers. Inside linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary was putting an emphasis on getting the body tight on blockers so his group wouldn’t be dependent on their arms to shed blocks.
Back to the inside linebacker blitzing drill. Jean-Mary was not pleased with his group during the drill. Freshman Arion Carter and sophomore Elijah Herring each got an earful from their position coach during the drill. For Carter, it was multiple earfuls as he had multiple poor reps.
As previously stated, the tight ends and running backs definitely came out ahead on the drill. However, Aaron Beasley did have multiple strong reps and was, unsurprisingly, the best of the linebackers in the drill.