Football is back. Well, almost.
Tennessee took the field on Friday afternoon for the first day of 2019 fall camp. The weather started to turn bad by the end of the fourth period, but the media was allowed to watch three open periods of practice.
Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee were on the practice field for the entire open portion of practice. Nathanael observed the defense while Ben watched the offense.
Here are our notes and observations from the Vols’ first day of fall camp.
- Some position changes/updates to note to start off. Deangelo Gibbs was back working with the wide receivers for the first day of fall camp. Jeremy Pruitt stated on Thursday that Gibbs will redshirt the 2019 season, so he may use that year to learn the receiver position. We will monitor where he ends up at future practices. Quavaris Crouch worked mostly with the outside linebackers during the open portion of practice, and Henry To’oto’o and JJ Peterson both worked with the inside linebackers. Jahmir Johnson worked with the offensive tackles during the open portion as well. Freshman Jerrod Means worked with the defensive backs today.
- I was surprised to see Solon Page III getting as much run with the inside linebackers as he was on the first day. He appeared to be ahead of Shanon Reid and JJ Peterson among others in the unit. This is, of course, just the first day of fall camp, and the order players go through drills isn’t always indicative of the depth chart. It was still worth noting, though.
- As mentioned above, Crouch worked a lot with the outside linebackers, and you can tell he still has quite a bit to learn about the linebacker position overall. He’s very receptive to coaching, though, and he has such raw strength and elite athleticism that he should be able to flourish no matter which position he plays. He could play multiple positions in the linebacker group as his career progresses.
- Roman Harrison was working exclusively with the outside linebackers, to nobody’s surprise.
- On the defensive line, Emmit Gooden appears to easily be the leader of that group right now. Matthew Butler and LaTrell Bumphus were getting some good work in today to start camp, and I was pleased by what I saw briefly from newcomer Savion Williams.
- Kivon Bennett looks to be in great shape and could easily contend with Deandre Johnson for that second outside linebacker spot. I think those two are the main combatants for that second spot, but they aren’t guaranteed anything with both Crouch and Harrison also practicing there.
- JJ Peterson looked to be in good shape, which is a change from last year and even the start of spring practices several months ago. I look forward to seeing more from him in the future this fall.
During the first period of the open portion of practice, the quarterbacks and running backs teamed up with the offensive line to work on the halfback screen.
Tim Jordan, Ty Chandler, and Jeremy Banks all looked good catching the football, and all three quarterbacks showed great touch on the football.
While the quarterbacks, running backs, and offensive line worked on screens, the wide receivers were off in the distance working on working back to the football with Tee Martin throwing them the ball. The tight ends were off in the corner working on blocking, as they did the entire open portion. Dominick Wood-Anderson was the first tight end in line.
For the second period, all of the groups split up into individual drills. The offensive line worked on remaining level over a pad on the ground while striking a teammate in front of them with a pad.
It’s not necessarily an indicator, but from left to right, the first linemen through the drill were Wanya Morris, Trey Smith, Brandon Kennedy, Riley Locklear, and Marcus Tatum. Second through the drill, from left to right, was Jahmir Johnson, Trey Smith, Ryan Johnson, Jerome Carvin, and Nathan Niehaus.
Smith participated in this drill as I noted, but he did not strike a pad like the rest of his teammates.
When they were finished, the offensive line paired with the tight ends to work on tandem blocks. The tackles and tight ends worked together, and the guards and centers worked together. The guards also worked with the tackles.
As for the wide receivers, they ran multiple routes with the quarterbacks. Jarrett Guarantano was obviously first in line. JT Shrout and Brian Maurer then went second, both throwing at the same time.
There were quite a few balls that hit the ground considering it was routes versus air. Both the wide receivers and quarterbacks were to blame.
Guarantano, Maurer, and Shrout all made several nice throws, but they each had at least one throw they would have liked to have had back.
To wrap up the open portion, the wide receivers and defensive backs teamed up for a drill. The receivers worked on their release while the defensive backs worked on press coverage.