Tennessee hit the practice field for practice No. 3 of spring practice on Tuesday afternoon. The Vols were in full pads for the first time this spring and it was the first time media members were able to view practice in over a year. Here’s a couple of observations from what the media was able to see during the open portion:
- Everybody wants to talk about the quarterbacks and rightfully so, but the most noteworthy observation from practice was the absence of senior linebacker Jeremy Banks. He was not at practice as he will be limited this spring due to injuries sustained last season. As a result, the inside linebacker position was rather thin. The only participants at the position were Aaron Beasley, Morven Joseph, Solon Page, long-snapper Will Albright and walk-on Enrique Valentine.
- While inside linebacker may have been thin, there were new additions to the defensive line. Tyler Baron, Bryson Eason and Byron Young were all distinctly working with Rodney Garner’s group. Garner’s d-line was working on getting off the ball as well as their hand placement.
- On the offensive side of the ball, all eyes were on Hendon Hooker for the first time. The Virginia Tech transfer was first in line for every drill and carried himself as if he were QB1, which is to be expected considering he’s started college football games before. After practicing rollouts and RPOs, the quarterbacks went through routes-versus-air with the wide receivers. There were no glaring takeaways from the quarterbacks in that regard, as they were throwing simple slant routes, out-routes, in-routes, comebacks and curls. All throws were within the 5-to-10-yard range. Brian Maurer went second in most drills, while Harrison Bailey mixed in with walk-ons Sully McDermott and Spencer Smith.
- At receiver, Velus Jones was the clear and obvious leader of the group. Jones went first in every drill and was very encouraging. There were no strong takeaways, though sophomore Andison Coby had a tough day catching the football.
- Sophomore wide receivers Malachi Wideman and Jalin Hyatt was limited, as was junior running back Tiyon Evans and senior Cheyenne Labruzza. Both worked off to the side. Riley Locklear, LaTrell Bumphus, Jimmy Holiday, Len’Neth Whitehead and Christian Charles were all in black jerseys. Tight end Austin Pope was in full pads and practicing after missing last season due to back surgery.
- Along the offensive line, Glen Elarbee worked his group through drills that focused on pad level and hand placement. Darnell Wright worked on the right side, while walk-on Dayne Davis worked at left tackle. K’Rojhn Calbert also worked at left tackle, while former defensive lineman Kingston Harris worked along at guard, mostly on the left side. There was not a distinct five-man offensive line while the media was in attendance, as they most worked individually or in tandems.
The media will be back at practice on Thursday and Friday of this week. Wide receivers coach Kodi Burns is scheduled to meet with the media following practice, as is defensive coordinator Tim Banks.