Managing editor Nathanael Rutherford and staff writer Ben McKee both contributed to this article
It’s been a while since Tennessee’s football program has been able to practice in December, but the Vols took the practice field on Friday for their first day of bowl prep this postseason. It’s the first time since 2016 that UT has been able to practice for a bowl game, and the extra practices are a welcome sight for head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff.
Friday also marked graduation day for several programs at the University of Tennessee, and some of UT’s graduates weren’t at practice because of it. Darrell Taylor, Marquez Callaway, and Jauan Jennings were all absent as they walked across the stage to get their diplomas.
As for practice, Tennessee held practice indoors and went through drills in shells.
At quarterback, Jarrett Guarantano was the first through reps with Brian Maurer and JT Shrout following him. The quarterbacks worked with running backs on hand-offs under center and improving cohesiveness at the mesh point in other drills.
Freshman Eric Gray appeared to be the first team running back in the open portion of practice. Gray’s last appearance in the season was a historic one, as he ran for a true freshman record 248 yards and three scores against Vanderbilt in the regular season finale.
With the other running backs, Tim Jordan’s left ankle was taped up, and Carlin Fils-aime was out on the practice field. Fils-aime has missed the entire season, but he’s expected to return next year.
Defensively, Daniel Bituli and Henry To’o To’o were the first team inside linebackers, with JJ Peterson and Solon Page backing them up. Freshman Aaron Beasley was also in the mix.
Quavaris Crouch worked with the outside linebackers, and Jordan Allen was back out with the group as well.
Greg Emerson, Aubrey Solomon, Matthew Butler, and Kurott Garland were the first four defensive linemen through drills, with Elijah Simmons, John Mincey, Darel Middleton, and Savion Williams following. LaTrell Bumphus and Kingston Harris came after.
Shawn Shamburger and Warren Burrell appeared to be backing up Alontae Taylor and Bryce Thompson at cornerback.
Head coach Jeremy Pruitt will speak to the media following the conclusion of practice today.