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Defensive Practice Notes: 3/31

Todd Kelly Jr-1-4Some notes and observations from the defensive side of the ball at Tuesday’s practice:

Circle of life: The Vols started practice with the Circle of Life drill, just as they did on the first day of pads on Saturday. As always, it’s hard to see exactly what’s going on inside the circle, but some of the matchups were:

Josh Malone vs. Stephen Griffin
Neiko Creamer vs. Stephen Griffin
Elliott Berry vs. Neiko Creamer
Kenny Bynum vs. Gavin Bryant
Jack Jones vs. Shy Tuttle

That Jones vs. Tuttle matchup was one of the few we could see relatively well. It looked like a stalemate that went on for a solid seven or eight seconds. That should tell you something about Jones’ level of strength, that he could hang with Tuttle, who has a solid 25-30 pounds on him in that battle.

Sutton shines: It’ll come as no surprise to anybody who reads our practice updates with regularity, but junior cornerback Cam Sutton was a standout in the portions of practice we saw on Tuesday. He was regularly drawing praise from defensive backs coach Willie Martinez.

Sutton regularly goes through drills first, sets the tone, has perfect technique and the player the others watch to see perfect form. He continues to set himself up for a big junior season.

Weatherd at defensive end: Officially listed as a linebacker on the roster, rising senior Chris Weatherd was working exclusively at defensive end during the drills we saw at practice on Tuesday. Weatherd’s always been somewhat of a hybrid player anyhow, often lining up at linebacker and walking up to the line to act as a de facto defensive lineman, so getting snaps as a DE isn’t a huge adjustment for him. It also could be a move to help the Vols, who are without Curt Maggitt and Derek Barnett this spring, with depth at the position for the time being.

Hoke in attendance: Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was a guest at practice on Tuesday. Hoke has several ties to Tennessee’s program, most notably to new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who Hoke worked with at Michigan in multiple capacities.

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