Tennessee took the practice field again on Friday, but this time it wasn’t during the mid-afternoon heat. The Vols practiced as the sun began to set in Knoxville, marking their first evening practice of fall camp.
Here’s eveything staff writer Ben McKee observed during the open portion of practice on Friday.
Much has been made about Jarrett Guarantano this offseason, and rightfully so. No. 2’s leadership was on display during Friday’s night practice, but it was senior safety Nigel Warrior’s whose leadership shined through the most.
Warrior was not pleased with the way his fellow safeties were conducting themselves through a back-pedaling drill. He was extremely vocal, encouraging his teammates to pick up the effort up and clean up the mistakes.
Senior inside linebacker Daniel Bituli was also vocal during drills. After the group worked on shedding blocks, the inside backers went through a drill in which they back-pedaled and then worked back to the football. Bituli was quick to give praise to J.J. Peterson following the drill with a compliment about Peterson’s “nice feet.”
Speaking of Peterson, the redshirt freshman has looked better in the open portion following a slow start to fall camp, though Kevin Sherrer wasn’t very pleased with one of his reps early on during today’s practice.
Following Daniel Bituli, the order through inside linebacker drills were Solon Page III, Shannon Reid, Henry To’oto’o, Deontae Beauchamp, West Shuler, Ethan Rinke, and Peterson. To’oto’o and Reid both turned in some impressive reps.
As for junior Will Ignont, he was back at practice after not being present for the open portion of Thursday’s practice. He did not go through drills, however, as he worked with the strength staff.
At outside linebacker, the group worked on their pass rush. Darrell Taylor and Deandre Johnson were first through the drill, and Roman Harrison and Kivon Bennett went second. Quavaris Crouch and Nyles Gaddy were third through the drill.
The primary focus for the defensive line was getting off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. Guys were all jumbled up in terms of the order in which they went through the drill, so it was hard to understand the order of the totem pole.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker was particularly pleased with Aubrey Solomon, Darel Middleton, Elijah Simmons, and LaTrell Bumphus.
On the offensive side of the ball, there was a small tweak to the first set of offensive linemen through drills. K’Rojhn Calbert had been the first man working at right guard during the open portion of practice to begin camp, but on Friday, it was Jerome Carvin.
Surrounding Carvin, the lineup was Wanya Morris at left tackle, Trey Smith at left guard, Brandon Kennedy at center, and Marcus Tatum at right tackle. Morris received praise for some of his reps from offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
As for Smith, he continues to progress to more and more contact during the open portion of practice.
The second group of linemen to go through the drill, from left to right, was Jahmir Johnson, Jarious Abercrombie, Ryan Johnson, Calbert, and Darnell Wright.
The third group consisted of Jake Yelich, Riley Locklear, Jackson Lampley, Airin Spell, and Dayne Davis. Chris Akporoghene worked with the strength staff.
While Warrior was vocal with the safeties and Guarantano was vocal with the quarterbacks and wide receivers, Dominick Wood-Anderson was vocal with the tight ends as the group worked under a chute and with the two-man sled.
Going two at a time during the drills, Wood-Anderson and Jackson Lowe were the first two through. Andrew Craig and Princeton Fant followed, with Jacob Warren and Sean Brown going third. Hunter Salmon and Austin Pope went last. It didn’t seem as if Pope was a full participant during drills.
The wide receivers worked on working back to the football with Tee Martin to begin practice, but then they teamed up with the quarterbacks to work on end-zone throws.
Brian Maurer and JT Shrout continue to take the majority of the reps during the open portion, though Guarantano takes the first rep with each route they work on. This is likely in an effort to determine a backup and bring the youngsters along as quickly as possible.
Guarantano was very impressive with his back-shoulder throws, while Maurer made some pretty throws while rolling out. Shrout made some nice throws as well. Overall, the quarterbacks had a nice day – at least during the portion of practice that we were allowed to see.
Senior wide receiver Marquez Callaway and freshman Ramel Keyton both made ridiculous one-handed catches in the back of the end zone.
As for the running backs, they continue to work on protecting the football and keeping their pads low during practice. Ty Chandler, Tim Jordan, Jeremy Banks, and Eric Gray has been the rotation through drills, while Carlin Fils-aime has not been present for a couple of days now. Gray has been impressive.
The group also worked on screen plays.
Tennessee will hit the practice field for practice No. 7 tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. ET before having a closed-door practice on Sunday and having Monday off.