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The Stars Were Back in Knoxville for the Tennessee Pro Day (Recap)

Tennessee Pro Day
Jalin Hyatt at the Tennessee Pro Day event on Thursday in Knoxville. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee Football’s 2023 Pro Day is officially in the books.

The event in Knoxville lasted around three hours on Thursday afternoon as many of Tennessee’s former players had the chance to show off what they could do on the field. The NFL Draft is less than a month away, slated for Thursday, April 27, in Kansas City.

All in all, the Vols had 14 players listed on their Pro Day roster:

  • LB Jeremy Banks
  • P Paxton Brooks
  • DL LaTrell Bumphus
  • OL Jerome Carvin
  • TE Princeton Fant
  • DB Trevon Flowers
  • QB Hendon Hooker
  • WR Jalin Hyatt
  • PK Chase McGrath
  • LB Solon Page III
  • DL Maurese Smith
  • WR Cedric Tillman
  • OT Darnell Wright
  • EDGE Byron Young

The Pro Day took place in the Tennessee indoor facility, though I do believe that some things moved outside a little bit later on in the afternoon. While the local media and family were kept to the sideline, NFL coaches and scouts flooded the field to get a better look at Tennessee’s players.

All 32 teams in the NFL had a representative on Rocky Top for Pro Day.

Tennessee had seven players receive an invitation to the NFL Combine in early March: Hooker, Tillman, Hyatt, Wright, Young, Banks, and Brooks. For the players that did not receive that same invitation, like veteran Tennessee lineman Jerome Carvin, Thursday was the day to show off their skills and what they could do.

Here’s a rough outline of what we saw at Tennessee Pro Day on Thursday. Of course, plenty of the events happened either away from the media or behind a Game of Thrones-like wall of scouts and coaches. Regardless, though, here’s a quick look at what we certainly saw on Thursday.

Five players began the day by running the 40-yard dash in the middle of the field: Tillman, Bumphus, Carvin, Smith, and Page III. Each of the five players ran twice.

None of the players had any kind of major slip-up, and each run looked fairly good from behind the camera lens. Cedric Tillman, who posted a 4.54 time at the Combine, looked quite fast as he ran down the field. There was no announcement of the times on the field.

More from RTI: WATCH: Tennessee Quarterbacks Spring Practice Highlights – March 30

After having some hamstring issues during the NFL Combine, Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt did not run the 40-yard dash on Thursday. What he did run, though, was the three-cone drill.

The event that everyone was truly waiting for was up next after the cone drills.

Tennessee’s receivers, Tillman and Hyatt, spent the next 10-15 minutes or so running routes and catching passes from UT Martin quarterback Dresser Winn.

I don’t believe Tillman dropped a single pass while running crisp and strong routes despite some inconsistency in the passing department from Winn. It’s too bad Hooker was still sidelined for this portion. Either way, Tillman looked excellent during the Tennessee Pro Day. A really strong showing on the field after battling an injury-filled 2022 football season.

Tillman’s most impressive catch arguably was a 15-20 yard corner route to the sideline. Tillman caught the ball and kept his feet in bounds despite crashing into a crowd of media and extra people there on the sideline. The crowd would quickly leave the area to give the players more space to work, but it was a heck of a play nonetheless.

Jalin Hyatt, a projected first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft by some, had a good day on the field as well. Hyatt’s routes weren’t necessarily as precise as Tillman’s were, but they still looked pretty good up and down the field. Hyatt made a great catch along the sideline and looked as fast as lightning while streaking up the field, but did have one drop while receiving a pass on a post route from the right to the left.

Hyatt’s most impressive play was simply just using his wheels to outrun the deep throw by Dresser Winn. Hyatt had to sort of turn around once in the endzone to snag the pass.

After the receivers had their time in the spotlight, offensive linemen Darnell Wright and Jerome Carvin had the chance to work through some drills in front of the scouts and coaches.

One of those coaches being Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. Vrabel could often be seen coaching up both Wright and Carvin in between offensive line reps.

As someone who is a 5-foot-10 sports writer, I can’t say that I participated in too many offensive line NFL scouting drills throughout my middle school football playing days. Here’s what was evident, though.

It’s evident that Darnell Wright is going to be a high first-round draft pick. Scouts and coaches were frequently huddled around him, looking at his game as he ran through drills. Both Carvin and Wright did drills to show their speed, their hand-eye coordination, and their footwork. Other drills showcased their raw strength and power, while also focusing on hand placement and even more footwork. Wright looked great.

It’s also evident that Jerome Carvin had a solid day on the field. I was impressed with what I saw. While Carvin may not have a set position that he is dominant at like Wright with the right tackle spot, the former Tennessee offensive lineman is unquestionably one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the class. Carvin has a very impressive ability to slide back and forth between guard and center, something that he says is a frequent conversation point during NFL interviews.

The last event that we saw out on the indoor fields on Thursday was the two linebackers hard at work. Tennessee’s Jeremy Banks and Solon Page III went through drills focusing on their footwork, speed, close-out angles, and hand-eye coordinator when catching the ball.

From a footwork perspective, both players looked good despite a few slips from the turf. Neither player was overly successful catching the ball during interception drills but found a few nice picks here and there.

While it hasn’t been mentioned too much here yet, quarterback Hendon Hooker was back in Knoxville and getting some throws in during Pro Day. Hooker didn’t participate in any of the actual events but spent plenty of time on the far side of the field getting in some throws with his receivers from college. It’s absolutely remarkable to see Hooker up, walking around, and throwing the football just four months after receiving ACL surgery. I’m sure the scouts and coaches in attendance found that remarkable, too.

Hooker also spent a good bit of time with Tennessee quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Joey Halzle during the day. While Halzle isn’t technically Hooker’s current coach anymore, the two looked right back in place working on some footwork moves on the field.

As the linebackers were participating in their field events, a group did move to the outdoor field, to presumably watch the special teams guys (kickers) that were slated to participate.

At the same time, though, Tennessee put Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt, Jerome Carvin, Byron Young, and Josh Heupel on the main stage to speak with the media.

Check out all five of the interviews from the Tennessee Pro Day on Thursday below.

Josh Heupel

Hendon Hooker

Jalin Hyatt

Jerome Carvin

Byron Young

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