In offensive coordinator Tyson Helton’s new offense, the tight end is more important than it has been in years past for the Vols. Tennessee needs players that can both block and make plays as a receiver, and they have many options on the roster. However, none have stood out so far like Dominick Wood-Anderson, the junior tight end playing his first season with the Vols. He’s made a very swift transition from JUCO to the SEC already.
Jeremy Pruitt seems to agree, praising him to the media earlier this week. “Dom is a bigger body than the other guys we’ve got,” Pruitt said after practice this week. “He’s got soft hands. He’s learning what’s going on. He’s learning how to practice, how we want to do things, so he’s doing a good job.”
Wood-Anderson chose the Vols over Alabama and Texas A&M back in December, and he was one of the first big gets for Pruitt on the recruiting trail. He chose Tennessee because, in his words, there are “so many good people” and he enjoyed the environment.
He played quarterback in high school, and after a short stint at defensive end, he made the transition to tight end his first season at Arizona-Western. He said he studies guys like Jason Witten, Travis Kelce, and Jordan Reed to try to improve his game. “(Tight end) is where I belong,” Wood-Anderson stated, “I can’t see myself at any other position.”
The transition from JUCO to SEC football isn’t an easy one, but the 6-foot-4, 257-pound tight end has handled it well.
“It was a bit of an adjustment coming from junior college where it’s not as complicated. You definitely gotta put in the extra time,” he explained. “It’s not just we go to practice and work on it then. When you go back to your room at practice you got to study the playbook.”
Wood-Anderson is excited about the upcoming season, especially with the tight end group the Vols have. And he attributes the growth of that unit that to his position coach.
“(Coach Niedermeyer) is a great coach,” he said. “He pushes us as a unit every day whether it’s the weight room, classroom, or on the field. I can’t wait to go out with my teammates and have a great season.”
The Vols’ newest tight end feels like his group has something special and could be a real factor for the Vols this season. “(As a unit) We are hard-nosed. We get out of the meeting room and we are prepared to work hard.”
In 2017, Wood-Anderson finished with 31 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns for Arizona Western. He was big for them in their Championship games as well. He will be looking to have an even better year this season and looks like he could be a key component for the Volunteer offense.
Even though the Vols are coming off a program-worst season last year, Wood-Anderson’s expectations for this team are high. And a lot of that has to do with the Vols’ new coaching staff.
“This whole staff has been in winning programs, they’ve all been in championships,” Wood-Anderson explained. “They all bring a hard-nosed mentality to the program and the players are the same way.
“This year should be exciting.”