Tennessee football took to Haslam Field Monday morning for the first practice of fall camp. The Vols started on the indoor practice field before working outside.
Tennessee allowed the media to watch the first eight sessions as the Vols practiced with helmets and no pads for roughly 50 minutes.
The Vols lived up to Josh Heupel’s word Sunday and were mostly healthy besides Len’Neth Whitehead. Here’s practice notes and observations from Tennessee’s first fall practice.
We’ll start with running back Jaylen Wright who was in a red no contact jersey for individual drills while not competing in any team work.
The quarterback rep order was as expected. Hendon Hooker led the way followed by Joe Milton III, Tayven Jackson, Gaston Moore and Navy Shuler.
We were able to watch Tennessee do a little 11-on-11 work and receiver versus defensive back work.
In the 11-on-11, Small flanked Hooker as the starting running back, Cedric Tillman and Ramel Keyton were the outside receivers while Jalin Hyatt started in the slot.
The Vols’ starting offensive line left-to-right was Jeremiah Crawford, Jerome Carvin, Cooper Mays, Javontez Spraggins, Darnell Wright.
Jimmy Holiday, Walker Merrill and Jimmy Calloway were the receivers in Tennessee’s second group though Bru McCoy and the freshman receivers worked in there too.
Speaking of the freshmen receivers, Squirrel White dominated freshman defensive backs throughout the viewing period. He completely toasted Cameron Miller in one rep and made a nice adjustment to haul in a Milton deep ball.
The freshman also beat Wesley Walker on a slant route and hauled in a Hooker pass. It is easy to see why there’s so much buzz around White.
McCoy physically looks the part. It will be interesting to see how far he climbs up the depth chart over the course of August.
Jalin Hyatt was impressive during the one-on-one portion including creating an abundance of separation on an out route against Wesley Walker.
Calloway also had a nice rep during one-on-ones, beating Trevon Flowers deep and hauling in a Hooker pass for a long gain.
Freshman running backs Justin Williams-Thomas and Dylan Sampson split second team reps behind Small with Wright sidelined. Both had a handful of nice plays in 11-on-11 but take it with a grain of salt considering the lack of full pads.
One final offensive note, tight end Miles Campbell looks extremely well put together and like a guy that could play behind Jacob Warren and Princeton Fant this season. Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Alex Golesh said as much yesterday.
More From RTI: Three Takeaways From UT Media Days
Let’s start with some personnel notes. I mentioned it in the offensive section but freshman Cameron Miller is starting his career on the defensive side of the ball. The Memphis native was a fringe three-star/four-star receiver coming out of high school but was working with the corners on day one.
Let’s stay in the defensive back room where there’s a ton of questions about what position different players are going to play.
To open fall camp Christian Charles, Dee Williams, Kamal Hadden, Brandon Turnage and freshman Christian Harrison joined Warren Burrell working at corner.
Charles joined Wright as the only non quarterback wearing a red non contact jersey.
Freshman Jourdan Thomas, Wesley Walker, Andre Turrentine and Doneiko Slaughter joined Jaylen McCollough and Trevon Flowers at safety.
When the Vols began 11-on-11 drills here was their starting defense.
Tyler Baron, Omari Thomas, Bryson Eason and Byron Young started along the defensive line. Jeremy Banks and Aaron Beasley were at linebacker, Flowers and McCollough were at safety, Burrell and Hadden were at corner and Tamarion McDonald was at STAR.
Brandon Turnage quickly took Hadden’s spot to get reps even while still working against the first team defense. Turrentine and Slaughter were in the second group at safety while Williams got second team work at corner and Walker got second team work at STAR.
Juwan Mitchell and Solon Page III were Tennessee’s second team linebackers. Mitchell looks healthy after missing most of last season.
Along the defensive line, Roman Harrison, Da’Jon Terry, Elijah Simmons and La’Trell Bumphus worked on the second team.
Keyton beat Hadden on a deep ball on the very first play of the 11-on-11 period but Hadden recovered to break up a slightly under thrown Hooker pass.
Speaking of Burrell, the veteran defensive back split reps against Keyton during the one-on-one portion.
Heupel noted that Walker had a nice interception in practice that occurred after the media viewing period was over.
Byron Young was as loud as I’ve ever heard him on the practice field, especially during the drill portions. Lots of encouragement and correction from the senior pass rusher. Young and Baron led the defensive line in every drill.
Freshman pass rushers James Pearce Jr. and Joshua Josephs have impressive speed but still need to fill out their bodies. Both are skinny for defensive lineman but certainly have talent and could make an impact this fall.
Pearce earned some criticism from coaches due to his lack of sprinting during a drill. The North Carolina native repeated the drill.
One final note, director of athletics Danny White watched the Vols practice Monday.