Practice notes were written by RTI contributor/photographer Jake Nichols
In its preparation for UT-Chattanooga, Tennessee took to the practice field once again on Wednesday afternoon.
While the nation’s focus is on the September 11 attacks that took place 18 years ago today, the biggest news surrounding Tennessee football came at 3:00 p.m. when Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced that defensive back Bryce Thompson would be allowed to return to practice after being suspended due to a preseason arrest.
Thompson’s impact didn’t alter the flow of drills at all, but he did make a decent catch off a throw from head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who rotated between the defensive line and defensive backs (mainly cornerbacks) during the open portion of practice. Pruitt didn’t seem to offer much praise for Thompson, at least not loudly, during the defensive backs’ one-on-one drills.
Pruitt didn’t say much in general when working with the DBs, but he was much more vocal with the Vols’ defensive line. As the group moved through bag drills, Pruitt yelled “Get down!” at almost every player.
The second-year head coach did seem encouraged by Matthew Butler in drills, however.
Rather than instructing the drill himself, Pruitt referred to defensive line coach Tracy Rocker multiple times, asking “What’ve we got next, coach?” as the group moved between activities. Moreover, Pruitt appeared much more encouraged during the defensive front’s block-shedding work than he did during the sidestep bag drill, as their posture still wasn’t low enough.
While tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson was not spotted during drills on Tuesday afternoon, he was back with the group on Wednesday, as Brian Niedermeyer worked the group through one-on-one drills.
Much like Tuesday afternoon, Aaron Beasley remains with the safeties after working with running backs last week. Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley did stop to offer specific advice to Beasley on multiple occasions during a drill, saying “move back” as his group worked through backpedaling before working on hip rotation and tracking balls through the air.
The Vols’ offensive line worked through one-on-one drills Wednesday, with Will Friend becoming more animated with each group.
Quarterbacks and receivers went back-and-forth on routes versus air, with Jauan Jennings leading the receiving corps and Jarrett Guarantano still under control behind center. Guarantano, Maurer, and Shrout each worked on bootleg passes as well, rolling out to the right from shotgun before firing to running backs.
During linebacker drills, Kevin Sherrer appeared encouraged by Henry To’oto’o, but during a gap lesson, he took several minutes offering assignment help and answering questions from J.J. Peterson. Jeremy Banks remained with linebackers Wednesday, but he was one of the last in an orange (non-scout team) jersey to go through the drill.
Jeremy Pruitt will have media availability Wednesday at roughly 5:45 p.m. before going to Calhoun’s for his weekly “Vol Calls” appearance. Tennessee takes on UT-Chattanooga Saturday at 12 p.m.