Practice Notes: Vols Spring Practice 3/24

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    Photo credit: Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

    The bad weather was back again on Saturday as the Vols took the practice field for the third time under Jeremy Pruitt. The Vols’ first day of spring practices on Tuesday saw some inclement weather move in, and Thursday was full of sunshine and pleasant weather.

    But on Saturday, the rain was back. That didn’t hold back Tennessee’s players or coaches, though.

    Tennessee’s players were wearing some padding today, a change from just their jerseys and shorts from the first two days of practice. And because there was more padding, there was a little more physicality as well.

    Here are my observations from Saturday’s spring practice session.

    • I watched more of the offense than defense today, but a few things about Tennessee’s defenders stood out to me. Austin Smith really looks the part of a hybrid 3-4 linebacker. It will be interesting to see where he fits in on the Vols’ depth chart once the season begins, but if he can stay healthy, I think he can make an impact.
    • With Tennessee’s offense, there was a big emphasis on running and finishing plays, specifically with the wide receivers. David Johnson, Tennessee’s receivers coach, is one of the more vocal coaches on staff. And he made sure to let his players know the importance of being vertical threats in the passing game today.
    • I’ve been fairly impressed with true freshman Jerome Carvin thus far. We haven’t seen any game-like situations to truly judge the offensive line on yet, but I like what I’ve seen from him in drills. He won’t have the same impact as a true freshman that Trey Smith did, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he comes in and fits into the two-deep in his first year on campus.
    • Jarrett Guarantano has worked on his mechanics and footwork, and so far it’s been paying off in basic QB drills. Time will tell if that translates to when he’s in an actual game or even in scrimmages, but I can see a bit of a difference thus far.
    • Right now, Marquez Callaway is the No. 1 receiver. This isn’t based off him getting more reps or anything; it’s just based off what I’ve seen from a talent perspective and his performance in drills. I think Jordan Murphy is coming on strong, and Brandon Johnson is starting to develop a little more as well.
    • Ja’Quain Blakely is big. Not necessarily height-wise, but he has a huge girth. But he can move, and he seems to be settling in at his new position as a tight end fairly well. I’d be surprised if he made it onto the field on offense much this fall, but the transition seems to be going alright so 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.