There have been a plethora of position changes for the Vols at the start of spring practice this year, but one of the more intriguing moves has been former wide receiver Jason Croom switching over to tight end.
Croom has been with the Vols since 2012 and is now a redshsirt senior. When he joined the Vols, there was always talk of him potentially moving to tight end because of his large 6-foot-5 frame and body size. But Croom has been a receiver his entire Tennessee career up to now and has had mixed results when he’s been healthy.
Croom has only played in two full seasons (2013 and 2014), and even those were marred by nagging injuries. He redshirted his freshman year and missed all of 2015 with injuries. In his two years of play, Croom has caught 39 passes for 574 yards and 6 touchdowns. Injuries have held Croom back from being able to reach his potential as a wide receiver.
Now in his last season with the Vols, Croom hopes to prove to coaches and NFL scouts that he can be productive at a new position.
“(Moving to tight end) has always been something that’s been put in my ear,” Croom said after practice on Tuesday. “I brought it up to coach Jones after the season and he said let’s try it out this spring.”
Despite the speculation always being around him, Croom has never taken significant reps at tight end at any level of his playing career. “I worked with tight ends for a week as a freshman,” Croom stated, “but then I had to have surgery and was asked by coach Jones to go back with the receivers.”
One of the biggest adjustments Croom will have to make at the position is learning how to block defensive ends and linebackers as a pass and run blocker. Croom has the pass-catching aspect of being a tight end down pat, but he’s never had to block along the line of scrimmage like tight ends do.
“It’s gonna take reps, but it’s going pretty smoothly because I’ve been working on it all offseason, all winter,” Croom said. “I have to work on my technique because footwork matters a lot here.”
Croom has always had the potential to be a physical receiver who could stretch the field and provide yet another weapon on offense. And with only Ethan Wolf as a proven tight end on the roster, the Vols need help at the position.
And if it all continues to go smoothly, Croom could be that extra weapon.