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Tennessee Football Notes And Observations: Spring Practice No. 12

Photo By Ryan Schumpert/RTI

Tennessee football returned to the Anderson Training Center on a rainy Thursday morning in Knoxville. It was the Vols last open practice of spring practice ahead of Saturday’s Orange-and-White game at Neyland Stadium.

The first three sessions of practice were open to the media meaning we got to watch approximately the first 20 minutes of practice so, per usual, there’s only so many observations that one can glean.

Here’s our notes and observations from practice the Vols’ 12th spring practice.

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Let’s start with the injuries and absences which are continuing to mount up on each side of the ball with spring practice coming to a close.

Receiver Nate Spillman and offensive linemen Cooper Mays, Javontez Spraggins, Brian Grant and Jackson Lampley were all working off to the side.

Running backs Cam Seldon and Peyton Lewis were out on the practice field watching the Vols’ running backs going through drills while Patrick Wilk was in a red non contact jersey.

Then I was unable to spot offensive guard Andrej Karic, tight end Ethan Davis and receivers Bru McCoy and Braylon Staley. All four have either been inactive or working off to the side in recent practices.

So if you’re keeping track, that’s Tennessee’s starting center, top three guards, two receivers in the two-deep, two of five scholarship running backs and its top tight end. The Vols could be very limited on the offensive side during Saturday’s Orange-And-White game.

Moving on to other offensive notes, both offensive tackles John Campbell Jr. and Lance Heard were going through drills during the open portion of practice while Vysen Lang and William Satterwhite worked at center.

Tennessee’s running backs were working on balance drills with Dylan Sampson and DeSean Bishop leading the way for a banged up running back group.

It was a crisp routes on air portion of practice as the Vols worked specifically in the red zone. I only saw Nico Iamaleava fail to complete one pass, a goal line fade to Dont’e Thornton that he slightly over threw. After Iamaleava threw to Alabama tight end transfer Miles Kitselman on Tuesday, he threw to Notre Dame transfer Holden Staes.

Kitselman did have one drop on a pass from Gaston Moore. It was one of the best routes on air portions of practice of the year from early enrollee transfer Jake Merklinger.


Linebacker Elijah Herring and LEO Josh Josephs were working off to the side during the open portion of practice. I couldn’t spot defensive back Christian Charles.

Linebacker Arion Carter didn’t have an helmet on and was working in-and-out of drills while veteran linebacker Keenan Pili was in a red non contact jersey for the first time this spring.

One group that has remained relatively healthy for Tennessee this spring is the defensive line. That group is perhaps the team’s biggest strength and they could have a big day during the spring game against the banged up offensive line group.

Despite the depth and talent, hard coaching remains a constant for that group. Levorn Harbin was getting on James Pearce after one rep in a drill. Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel was also over on the defensive side of the ball for part of the open portion of practice.

Tennessee’s safeties were working on change of direction drills while high pointing the ball and the corners were working on tackling drills. They came together for a final group of drills towards the final few minutes of the open portion of practice.

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