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Practice Notes: Vols’ Fall Camp Day 7

Photo via Nathanael Rutherford

Tennessee was back out in the afternoon heat for practice on Saturday, and the media was only allowed to watch one period of this fall camp session. But the one period we got to see was full of energy, competition, and more passion from the coaching staff.

Here are our observations from the Vols’ seventh open portion of fall camp this year:

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  • Trey Smith is back. And not just back on the field; I mean back as in he’s back to his old self. If I didn’t know he missed all of spring because of blood clots in his lungs, I wouldn’t guess it from what I saw today. The offensive line ran through a couple drills while we were out at practice today, and the main drill I focused on was when one lineman would go up against another one holding a big medicine ball to work on leverage and strength in run blocking. Smith was the only lineman I saw who ended up shoving his “defender” to the turf during the drill. His fire and immense strength was not lost during his absence from the field this spring. As long as he stays healthy, he should be every bit as good this year as he was last year.
  • I’m encouraged by what I saw from Jahmir Johnson today. He had a few good reps and was even told that one of his reps in that “medicine ball” drill I mentioned above was his best rep thus far. He still needs to get a little bigger in my opinion, but he’s starting to develop and get stronger. I’ve always liked his length and mobility, but he just needs to get stronger. And he’s been working on that.
  • Tracy Rocker knows how to get the most out of his guys. He pushed the defensive linemen hard during the open portion of practice today, and he made the whole unit run down the field twice because he wasn’t satisfied with the effort of a small portion of the group the first time.
  • Shy Tuttle has become a vocal leader on the defensive line, as has Kyle Phillips. I think both of those players are legit leaders on the defense, not just on the defensive line.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing how multiple the Vols go on the defensive front this year. We saw a number of different looks in practice today, and I think we’ll see some huge fronts this year. Emmit Gooden is working his way into the rotation more, and he’s starting to find a spot along with Tuttle, Phillips, and Alexis Johnson.
  • John Mincey and Kingston Harris still have a ways to go before they’ll be counted on to make regular contributions, but I like some of the flashes I’ve seen from them this fall. It will be interesting to see where Mincey ultimately ends up. I would like to see him add another 15 pounds or so if he’s going to stay outside as a defensive end, but he has the frame to add even more if they want to move him inside to play tackle. Either way, I think he could have a good future with the Vols.

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