Tennessee Football Notes And Observations: Fall Practice Nine

Tennessee Football Notes And Observations: Fall Practice Nine

Dont'e ThorntonTennessee WR Dont’e Thornton. Photo via Rocky Top Insider.

Tennessee football returned to the Haslam Practice Field Saturday morning after having Friday off following its first fall scrimmage. The Vols were back in shells Saturday and have only practice twice in full pads this camp according to my count— Tuesday and during Wednesday’s scrimmage.

The media got to watch the first three period 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’ ninth fall practice.

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Tennessee’s offensive injuries were similar to as they have been in recent practices. Cooper Mays was obviously not out there after undergoing a minor procedure earlier this week.

All three of Bru McCoy, Squirrel White and Dont’e Thornton were fully dressed out and going through routes on air. The only additional injury notes is that Dylan Sampson stayed inside the Anderson Training Center when the team went outside. However, Sampson was only briefly inside before joining his teammates outside for drill work. Freshman running back DeSean Bishop was absent from the open portion of practice.

It was a high energy open portion of Saturday’s practice. Thornton provided some juice during stretches and Javontez Spraggins was loudly providing some motivation when the team met in the big huddle at the offset of practice.

Let’s start along the offensive line where Ollie Lane continues to receive the most center reps while Mays is sidelined. Parker Ball and Vysen Lang received the most center reps I saw behind Lane as the Vols attempt to build depth there. Veteran offensive tackle Dayne Davis was practicing snapping but that was off to the side and not part of the drills Tennessee’s offensive line was participating in.

The last offensive line note is that after working almost exclusively at left tackle so far during fall camp, Gerald Mincey was getting some drill work at right tackle Saturday morning.

There was an emphasis on deep balls during the routes on air portion of practice. Joe Milton III and Nico Iamaleava were both good but not great during the portion while the quarterbacks behind them struggled with accuracy.

Chas Nimrod struggled with drops while the media was present. Nimrod and Kaleb Webb are competing for the Vols’ fifth receiver spot and a bigger role in the rotation if injuries happen this season.

Josh Heupel was providing some route instruction to Thornton who was eagerly asking questions and demonstrating movements to try and get it right. Squirrel White made his way over to the duo and was soaking up Heupel’s teaching as well.

Tennessee’s running backs went through drills where assistants threw cones at them and they had to allude them with a proper cut in one direction. Mack constantly has his group working on reading defenses and which way to cut.


The defensive injury notes are the same as the last handful of days. Defensive backs Tamarion McDonald and Wesley Walker as well as defensive tackle Omarr Norman-Lott were fully dressed out but stayed inside to work when the rest of the team went outside to the Haslam Practice Field.

Rodney Garner was getting after his group good early on during drills but seemed to be more pleased with the group’s effort later on.

The phrase of the day for inside linebackers coach Brian-Jean Mary was “violent hands” as the linebackers did their normal block shedding and gap assignment drills. Tennessee’s inside linebackers did work on pass rush drills as well. Defensive coordinator Tim Banks typically spends most of the open portion of practice with the safeties but he moseyed on down to watch the linebackers work for one of the three open periods.

One linebacker that continues to impress me more-and-more as fall camp rolls on is freshman linebacker Jeremiah Telander. The inside backer is big for a freshman and moves well for his size. He was repping with fellow freshman Arion Carter for the first time during the open portions of fall camp.

I’d still be surprised if Telander has a big role on Tennessee’s defense this fall, but I could see him shining on special teams.

It was standard drill work for Tennessee’s defensive backs against the pass. Willie Martinez was working with the corners to split the difference against four verticals and to read the quarterbacks eyes while in zone defense.

Doneiko Slaughter, Kamal Hadden and Gabe Jeudy-Lally continue to be the most impressive looking Tennessee cornerbacks to me.

Author: Ethan Moore