Practice Notes: Vols’ Fall Camp Day 5

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    Photo via Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

    For the first time this fall, the Vols had to retreat indoors for practice. The fifth day of fall camp for Tennessee saw storms roll through about half an hour before practice started, and Tennessee had to move inside to their indoor practice facility for Wednesday’s practice. But the rainy weather didn’t dampen the mood among players and coaches.

    Tennessee’s players were in full pads for the first time this fall, and that added some extra intensity and urgency to practice today. Here are our notes and observations from the Vols’ fifth day of fall camp today:

    What true freshman is catching our eye? Is Tennessee’s perceived strength on offense struggling? Read that and more in our premium practice report on RTI Premium!
    • Since we were indoors, we actually got a decent look at UT’s running backs today for the first time aside from the open practice on Sunday. They were close enough for us to really observe them going through drills. This time, the order of the backs was usually Ty Chandler followed by Tim Jordan, Trey Coleman, Madre London, then Jeremy Banks. I don’t know how much to look into that, but that’s the order we saw today running through most of the running back drills.
    • I’ll say this about Tennessee’s backs: All of them look a lot bigger than last year. Chandler is still the “smallest” of them all, but you can tell a difference with him with pads on compared to last season. London and Banks look very imposing for running backs, and I like the footwork I’ve seen from Jordan. I do think he has a pretty good shot at making some noise this season with this new offense.
    • It was another up and down day for Tennessee’s wideouts. Brandon Johnson, Jordan Murphy, and a handful of others all had drops. Johnson ran back through his drill when he made a drop and corrected his mistake, but there were still more drops than coaches would’ve liked today.
    • But all those drops weren’t the fault of the WRs. Some of the throws from Tennessee’s quarterbacks weren’t exactly on target either. It wasn’t a horrible day for the Vols’ passing attack in the open portion of practice, but it certainly could’ve been better. You also wonder how much practicing inside for the first time might’ve affected them, but that shouldn’t have had that big of a change.
    • In the secondary, Tennessee’s coaches were working a lot on press coverage and hip flexibility with the cornerbacks today. We got to see a little more physicality out of the corners, and there’s definitely more of an emphasis on press and man coverage with this staff.
    • I’m intrigued by both Alontae Taylor and Bryce Thompson, Tennessee’s two true freshmen cornerbacks. I’m not alone in this; these two have gotten a lot of attention in the media the past week. But I think both of them bring something Tennessee’s cornerback room lacked last year: Athleticism and explosiveness. It will be interesting to see how much either one of them plays, and with Shawn Shamburger continuing to see time at safety, one of them could even snag a starting spot.
    • Todd Kelly Jr. continues to look good at safety, and he’s been practicing well this fall. That continued today, and he looks leaner and quicker than he did his last two years with Tennessee. Theo Jackson also looks really good at safety, and the Vols may have to find a way to play four or five safeties this year between them, Nigel Warrior, Micah Abernathy, and Shamburger.
    Nathanael Rutherford
    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.