Tennessee’s football team took the practice field again on Wednesday, and the media was allowed to see two periods of the Vols’ fall camp practice session.
Here’s everything RTI staff writer Ben McKee observed during practice on Wednesday.
The offensive line was off limits to the media during practice No. 11 of fall camp, so along with scouts from the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins, I spent most of the two open periods watching the Vols’ defense on Wednesday afternoon.
Along the defensive line, Tracy Rocker led his group through a drill that focused on their footwork before striking a blocker – or in this case, a dummy. For the second day in a row, Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon was last to go through the drill.
Matthew Butler was first through the drill, followed by walk-on Bryan Aiken and Savion Williams. Darel Middleton, Greg Emerson, Ja’Quain Blakely, LaTrell Bumphus, Elijah Simmons, Kingston Harris, and Solomon were next to go through the drill.
Note: I wouldn’t put any stock into the order in which the defensive line is going through drills. It’s been a different order each day.
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt usually begins practice working with the safeties. On Wednesday, he let defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley work the secondary while he observed multiple defensive line drills. Ansley and the defensive backs worked on high-pointing the football.
At outside linebacker, the group continued to work on pass-rushing drills with Chris Rumph. Darrell Taylor was first through the drill, followed by Kivon Bennett, Nyles Gaddy, Ethan Rinke, Quavaris Crouch, and Deandre Johnson.
Roman Harrison worked on a bike instead of going through drills.
The inside linebackers worked on tackling the ball carrier and wrapping up, as well as working back to the football in coverage. Daniel Bituli continues to be the vocal leader of the group and first through drills. Will Ignont, Solon Page III, Henry To’oto’o, Shannon Reid, J.J. Peterson, West Shuler, and Deontae Beauchamp followed the senior.
Bituli continues to take Peterson under his wing. He’s encouraged and coached Peterson in multiple drills this fall camp. Wednesday was no different. Even Peterson was dishing out instructions and encouragement when he helped Shuler through a drill, and then dapped him up following the rep.
With the offensive line off limits, the media was given a closer view of Tennessee’s running backs. David Johnson led the group through drills working on handoff exchanges with the quarterbacks, as well as a contact drill focused on holding onto the football.
Ramel Keyton and Tyler Byrd also went through the contact drill with the running backs.
Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan were first and second through drills, while Jeremy Banks and Eric Gray were third or fourth. Senior running back Carlin Fils-aime was nowhere to be found once again.
As has been the case all of fall camp, Brian Niedermeyer led his group through multiple blocking drills. Along with the two-man sled, Niedermeyer used trash cans as the tight ends worked on scheme-blocking. Focused on pulling, finding the correct gap, or chipping a defensive linemen before locking on with a linebacker, the tight ends worked one tight end sets and two-tight end sets.
During the one-man tight end drill, Dominick Wood-Anderson was first through the drill. Austin Pope, Princeton Fant, Jacob Warren, Jackson Lowe, and Sean Brown followed. Andrew Craig and Hunter Salmon held blocking pads.
During the two-man tight end set, Wood-Anderson and Pope paired together. Then, Lowe and Warren paired together before Fant and Brown went through the drill.
Even the wide receivers were concentrated on blocking drills. Tee Martin’s group worked in motion before simulating a crack-back block on a defender.
In routes-versus-air, the quarterbacks and wide receivers had a pretty clean day. The quarterbacks overthrew the wide receivers on a couple of deep balls, however.
The only noticeable observation I could make along the offensive line was that Brandon Kennedy was receiving some work at left guard alongside Wanya Morris, who was working at left tackle.
From a distance, it didn’t seem as if Jim Chaney and Will Friend were too pleased with the O-line for a second consecutive day.