The Vols practiced Thursday afternoon in the indoor facility for their fifth session of the spring:
Special guest: NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, a self-described lifetime Tennessee fan, came to practice on Thursday and actually suited it up in pads for about the first 45 minutes of drills.
He practiced with the running backs and the wide receivers as part of a promotional event for the Battle of Bristol game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech next September. Wallace and Bristol Motor Speedway GM Jerry Caldwell held a brief press conference before practice, saying that the demand for tickets to the game has been greater than the supply up this point. The event is expected to be the highest-ever attended football game with a capacity at the event of around 150,000.
If you were wondering what NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace looks like in UT gear… pic.twitter.com/YNYCgwBLJf
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) March 24, 2016
3rd & 2: That was the situation Butch Jones put the team in several times during the first few periods – pitting the first and second team offense against their counterparts on the other side of the ball. We can’t go into too much detail on formations or personnel, but the defense largely got the upper-hand in this drill, which was run about a dozen total times.
Cam Sutton stuffed John Kelly in the backfield one time to get the defense a stop. Gavin Bryant, Stephen Griffin and walk-on defensive lineman Paul Bain were among the other defenders that made some nice plays on that side of the ball. John Kelly did have one nice run for a first down, and Preston Williams used his size to shield the corner when he made a nice catch for a first down. Quinten Dormady, meanwhile, misfired on a pass to Josh Smith during this drill.
Guys standing out: A few thoughts on guys I’ve been impressed with in this second week of spring practice so far:
• WR Preston Williams: I mentioned that he had a nice catch earlier. He just seems to be healthy, energetic and moving around really well this spring. His injury history will obviously continue to be a concern, but he is getting a ton of reps this spring and very well could grow into a No. 1 WR for Tennessee in the near future if he stays healthy and focused.
• QB Sheriron Jones: I want to see more of him in live action, but just in the drills, he’s showing a ton of athleticism and has a lot of zip on the ball as well. I don’t know where he’ll be on the quarterback depth chart when it all shakes out this fall, but arm strength and athleticism aren’t questions that I have about him.
• DE Darrell Taylor: He’s another guy who is getting opportunities this spring because of a ton of injuries at his position and, thus far, he’s showing off his increased strength and size and getting opportunities to show that he can be in the defensive line rotation.
• DT Kahlil McKenzie: I’ve mentioned him before this spring, but he’s a guy that’s reshaped his body somewhat and is also getting plenty of reps. The defensive line had a good day overall on Thursday in the periods that we saw and McKenzie was a big factor in that.