The weather was as perfect as could be for the Vols’ sixth spring practice session under Jeremy Pruitt on Saturday. It was partly cloudy with a little wind, and the temperature was in the low 60s. It felt like football in Knoxville.
We didn’t get to see a ton at practice today, but there was still a lot to take away from what little we saw.
Here are my main observations from Tennessee’s spring practice session on Saturday, March 31st.
- Jordan Murphy continues to look impressive to me at wide receiver. I’ve been impressed with the competition at receiver this spring. I think Marquez Callaway is the top guy there right now without Jauan Jennings around, but everything else? It’s anyone’s game honestly. Brandon Johnson has looked solid, but Murphy and Latrell Williams have come on strong this spring too. Williams didn’t have quite as good of a day today as he has in the past, but he’s looked better this spring now that he’s healthy.
- I like what Jarrett Guarantano is doing this spring. We’ve not seen a lot of actual game-like situations in spring, but I like the zip on his passes and how he’s varied his throws more. He’s putting more touch on his deeper balls and is doing better on his mechanics. I also witnessed him show off some good leadership skills today. He was vocal with his receivers and encouraging them in drills.
- Drew Richmond has taken some steps in regard to being more physical off the line from what I’ve seen. I still think his highest ceiling is at guard, and I’m curious to see if that’s where he ends up in the fall once the Vols get more bodies back in the fold at offensive line.
- I really think the transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense is going to help both Jonathan Kongbo and Darrell Taylor. Kongbo looks like he’s in great shape. Then again, appearances have never been the issue with Kongbo. He’s always looked the part, but he just hasn’t produced. But I think both those players are in for a better season this year.
- Both Alexis Johnson and Shy Tuttle have filled out and look to be both bigger and in better shape. I think Tuttle gets the start at nose tackle, but I’m very interested to see what role Johnson fills this year. Will he be Tuttle’s backup, or will he start at an end position and be another big body in the 3-4 scheme? Kyle Phillips also looks more like an SEC type defensive lineman, but just like with Kongbo, appearances have been deceiving with him in the past as well.
- There’s been a lot of talk about Tyler Byrd moving from receiver to defensive back, and today I got to see him move around and do a little technical stuff with the defensive backs. He’s definitely added on some weight and looks beefier, but he still has really good speed. I think he’s more needed at corner than safety, but he may not have the nuances nailed down for corner just yet. Only time will tell.
- Former Vol running back and reigning NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara was in attendance at practice today. He stayed over near the offensive lineman a lot while we were out there watching practice today.