The Vols hit the indoor facility on Saturday morning due to weather preventing them from heading outside for the second consecutive practice. The coaches are working to find the players who they can build upon and the players are still working on building a bond between their coaches. On Saturday it was no different, as the Vols worked their way through another spring practice.
Jabari Small has been one player who has stood out to offensive coordinator Alex Golesh, who spoke to the media after practice on Saturday. He was asked about which two players have stood out to him so far in Spring Practice.
“Jabari Small has been really impressive,” Golesh said. “That’s a guy that I think we were all excited to see what he can do”.
The other running back, besides Tiyon Evans, who could be utilized out of the backfield is Dee Beckwith. At 6-foot-5 and 227 lbs., he has a unique frame and can use his speed to help this Tennessee offense.
“Dee Beckwith, really fascinating body type,” Golesh said. “We spent a bunch of time talking about Dee, our plan right now is to keep him at running back and let him learn a position, let him get comfortable there. I think it’s really hard to evaluate guys if you move them around a whole bunch. He’s shown some promise, shown flashes. Just so different, right, you just have to get used to it as coach seeing a different body type there and seeing a different skill set. It’s our job as coaches to use those skill sets in different ways.”
As much as Golesh complimented the variety of the running back room, he really enjoyed discussing the offensive line, who he complimented numerous times on Saturday. The point of emphasis has been how much this group would have to learn under offensive line coach Glen Elarbee.
“But, to answer your question, two guys that maybe have stood out: Jabari (Small) has been one, for sure,” Golesh said. “And probably that O-line group as a whole, knowing how the operation works, getting on the right people, playing fast. Those two have been really impressive so far.”
Josh Heupel and this staff will look to the offensive line for stability, so I imagine it’s been a welcomed sight for the coaches to see this group put in the hard work. Golesh discussed some of the lineman who’ve stood out to him so far, two practices in.
“In terms of guys there that have been impressive, Cade has done a really good job,” Golesh said. “Been really impressed with him. He really likes to play football. He’s fun to watch. Darnell has been really impressive. Spraggins, for a young guy, boy, he plays his tail off. Cooper at center has done a really good job.”
Yes, it’s only the second practice for this group, but that doesn’t mean the coaches haven’t seen growth coming from off-field work. Since they will be a key contributing factor for the Vols this season, having the offensive line get up to speed on the schemes and formations early on, will only benefit the other players on offense.
“Man, I’ve been impressed with those young guys,” Golesh said. “We’re big. We’re strong. I’ve been impressed. Those guys come off the ball. Again, there’s no pads on right now, but I can’t say enough good things about those guys.”
We all know it will be a work in progress for this offensive group, but Golesh seems impressed with how they’ve composed themselves during this short time period. For the Tennessee offense to be successful this year, they’re going to need the group up front to impose they will and for this running back group to counter the explosive passing game. But for Golesh, they’re just taking it one day at a time.