UT Practice Notes and Observations: 8-9-16

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    Some notes and observations from Tennessee’s Tuesday afternoon session of practice.

    Non-contact: Wide receiver Jauan Jennings, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and running back Jalen Hurd were in green, non-contact jerseys.

    Receiver work: Everyone wants to hear bout the receivers, so that’s where we’ll start. Preston Williams had himself a very solid day during Tuesday’s practice, making a couple nice grabs during the routes vs. air periods.

    But the story of the day was freshman Tyler Byrd. Early on in the quarterback/receiver portion, Byrd made a one-handed grab on a ball that was thrown a little behind him, recovered quickly, and ran down the field. It’s early and it’s just practice, but Byrd doesn’t look like your typical freshman receiver.

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Josh Smith is going to be Tennessee’s leading receiver this year in terms of catches. He snags every conceivable pass on just about every route in practice, and he did it again today, as he didn’t drop a single pass during the quarterback/receiver portion.

    Standout players: Not only did Williams and Byrd standout, but so did defensive end Kyle Phillips and running back Jalen Hurd. Phillips missed over half the season last year after suffering a shoulder injury, but he looks almost back to form early into fall camp. He moved around well today and looked overall pretty normal.

    As for Hurd, don’t call him a power back. Because he’s more than that. Hurd has improved his athleticism and elusiveness this summer, and it’s showing during fall camp. Hurd has the size and power to knock down a defender, but now it appears he has the shiftiness to evade a defender as well.

    Other notes: Tight end Devante Brooks has torn the same ACL twice while in high school and hasn’t played a full game of football in over two years. But he appears to be recovering well, and although you can tell he’s not as explosive as he wants to be or can be, he looks good so far this fall. He’s shown good hands and is doing all he can to get his speed up again.

    Quarterback Quinten Dormady has an arm for sure, and his release usually makes his throws look very smooth and pretty going downfield. With that being said, he still needs to work on making some more precise throws. He hung a ball a little too long during quarterback/receiver drills today, and he also led a receiver a little too far.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.