Some notes and observations from a couple open periods of practice on Wednesday evening:
Circle of Life: With “shells” on, or helmets and shoulder pads, Butch Jones gathered the team up into the Circle of Life Drill to start practice out on a warm evening. It was difficult to see inside the circle, but it appeared that Daniel Bituli got the best of a couple different opponents – it looked like tight end Austin Pope and running back Carlin Fils-Aime.
I wrote about Bituli a bit yesterday in the practice report. He’s a tall, rangy linebacker that I think has a lot of upside based on my first impressions of him. He reminds me a bit of former Syracuse and Tennessee Titan Keith Bulluck at least in the way he looks. If he has even some of the career that Bulluck did, UT fans will be thrilled.
O-line thoughts: I spent a few minutes watching the offensive linemen work on Wednesday. As is customary, coach Don Mahoney and coach Mike DeBord worked together during individual drills with the line, splitting up the tackles and the guards. Several players such as newcomer Marcus Tatum were moving around to different spot as they try to create depth and versatility along the offensive front.
This is no surprise, but I thought Chance Hall looked like he’s gotten even bigger and stronger over the offseason. He was moving well too after missing spring with an injury. It’s tough to get much insight on the battle over at left tackle until we see some more hitting, but Drew Richmond certainly looks the part of somebody ready to compete there. The interior trio of Jashon Robertson, Coleman Thomas and Dylan Wiesman looks like it could be formidable with plenty of depth from Jack Jones, Charles Mosley and Venzell Boulware in there.
Ryan Johnson again stood out as the most physically ready of the newcomers to contribute.
Other guys that stood out:
• Tyler Byrd made some nice catches in individual drills, following up a nice rep on Tuesday when he beat D.J. Henderson in a one-on-one drill near the goal line
• Marquez Callaway is just a very smooth athlete. He does wow you with size or speed, but he has enough of both and he has very good hands and seems to be a natural athlete. He did a good job fielding punts as well when given an opportunity on Wednesday
• Alvin Kamara has definitely added some muscle over the offseason, but isn’t moving any slower.