We’ll start with a highlight play that happened toward the end of the 11-on-11 work. Freshman linebacker Arion Carter got on the field as the Vols rotated most of their defense after the first-team lineup got some snaps, and made the most of it, picking off Joe Milton III to fire up his defensive teammates. It looked like Carter was sitting in a zone and came out of it as he read Milton’s eyes and reacted to the throw over the middle.
Mincey was at right tackle for a team tempo period, then switched back to left (where he started seven games in 2022) for the 11-on-11 work when Crawford was at right tackle. Campbell worked at left tackle with the first group for the tempo work and with the second-team offensive line during the 11-on-11 work. Davis was the second-team right tackle, but has proven he can play both sides.
Tennessee is getting its competition at left guard up and going, too. Ollie Lane and Jackson Lampley got first-team work there during team run while Texas transfer Andrej Karic is there working with the twos.
During a zone-coverage drill with the linebackers and defensive backs, freshman Jalen Smith was with the second group, and he also rotated in with the twos in team run. Carter wasn’t the only freshman on the field on his interception as cornerback Jordan Matthews and safety John Slaughter also rotated in to get some reps against the first-team offense.
Sophomore wideout Squirrel White was quiet during team drills, but was untouchable in some release work against the defensive backs – he just glides through his release and past his man. In 1-on-1s against the defensive backs, he got a ton of separation on an out route against Tamarion McDonald for an easy catch and on his next rep he got locked up by Jaylen McCollough, who grabbed a hold and wouldn’t let go at the top of his route – it would have been an easy penalty.
BYU transfer Gabe Jeudy-Lally carries himself like a veteran and made some plays. He was with the second-team defense but it might be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup down the road. He looked good defending releases in the press-man drill, forced two incompletions in 1-on-1 reps against Chas Nimrod and Nathan Leacock and made a good play for a TFL at the end of the team period.
Another defensive transfer popped up in Omarr Norman-Lott. The import from Arizona State batted an Iamaleava pass at the line and later got in the backfield to blow up a run play. He was part of the second-team defensive line and also got some snaps against the starters on offense.
In receiver/defensive back 1-on-1s, redshirt freshman Kaleb Webb had a couple of really good reps on Doneiko Slaughter and freshman Rickey Gibson III, Oregon transfer Dont’e Thornton was able to shake loose from Wesley Walker for a catch on a slant, Jordan Matthews had a PBU, Kamal Hadden and Ramel Keyton each won a couple of good battles before Keyton got Hadden for a chain-moving catch in team and freshman tight end Ethan Davis had a sweet move on a corner route to shake Andre Turrentine and get open for an easy catch from Milton – it drew a reaction from his teammates.
Cornerback Warren Burrell and linebacker Pak Garland donned a red noncontact jersey once again today at practice.
Freshman Ethan Davis is in a red jersey as well but looks as if he’s doing everything as of now.
Defensive lineman Tyler Baron was out on the practice field, going through individuals. The senior did not take part in team periods and likely won’t this spring. Wide receiver Bru McCoy, running back Jabari Small, defensive back Brandon Turnage, defensive back DeShawn Rucker, wide receiver Jack Janzek and freshmen Daevin Hobbs and Nathan Robinson were all off to the side getting work and at times inside the indoor complex.
Freshman linebacker Arion Carter was the star for us on a Tuesday. The mid-state native is fluid with his feet and was in control while going through linebacker drills. He looked miles ahead of some other defenders around him – even some who have been on campus longer.
Transfer Keenan Pili looks every bit of 24-years-old (or however old he is). He’s physically built to play in this league and is moving around (again, in shorts and no pads) well the first two days.
Elijah Herring and Kalib Perry also look more comfortable this go around and are actively leading a new group of linebackers along with Beasley. We thought Caleb Herring looked good with an added 20 pounds on already.
McCollough had a nice pass breakup during one-on-ones, shadowing Squirrel White towards the sideline.
As a group, we all agreed that we were impressed with freshman Ethan Davis. He’s moving around well, running crisp routes and physically looks good for an early enrollee. He made a coupe of catches during the one-on-one period.
Transfer McCallan Castles is also getting acclimated to the Tennessee offense, moving around a bit as an H-back during inside run.
Transfer wideout Don’t’e Thornton continues to impress, hauling in a bullet of a slant from Milton to beat Walker during one-on-ones.
For those asking about sophomore tackle Brian Grant, he still looks too thin in our eyes. Sophomore Masai Reddick has done a nice job changing his body, but still has some work to do.
The first group OL during team looked like this (l-to-r): Mincey, Lane, Mays, Spraggins, Crawford