The Tennessee Vols wrapped up their first week of practice in pads on Saturday night. This comes just one day after Jeremy Pruitt called off practice, due to COVID precautions.
Here are some practice notes from people we’ve spoken with around the program.
Jarrett Guarantano continued taking snaps with the 1’s. “He’s really settling into the position and isn’t making many mistakes. Him taking control of the offense is what his teammates are really benefiting from,” said one person. “He’s not making the mistakes that you might have seen in the past, the WR’s are definitely enjoying it.”
JT Shrout continued to split the 2’s with Brian Maurer, as Shrout continues to improve. “A completely different QB over the last two weeks, he understands the offense, the receivers trust him. He continues to play good football.”
Now, it’s only week two, but the competition for the second string is a great thing to have. They will continue to push each other.
Harrison Bailey started practicing with the team on this week. One person told me during the week, “He was a bit rusty during the first two practices, but man, he also really had some dimes during Wednesday’s practice, which he continued to work on during the week.”
Bailey returned to practice last week after having to quarantine for precautionary reasons
Bailey was splitting reps with Shrout and the 2’s on Saturday night, along with Maurer in other periods.
The WR position seems to have a fight for playing time on their hands, which is never a bad thing. “Jalin (Hyatt), Malachi (Wideman) and (Josh) Palmer really had a solid week,” I was told.
“For a position that some thought could have a slight setback when it comes to production, it might actually be the opposite, that group has some playmakers.” said one industry source
Tennessee OC Jim Chaney spoke highly of Ramel Keyton and Cedric Tillman this past Thursday, on a zoom meeting with reporters.
The RB group continues to build depth, with Tee Hodge battling for that third spot. Eric Gray continues to put in hard work, with one source adding “One of the few bright spots at practice was Gray, It’s hard to bring him down, just crazy shifty.”
Ty Chandler continues to press forward, as he will see a good chunk of playing time this year, with Gray.
The TE position continues to be an “Up in the air spot.” Austin Pope is steadily rehabbing and practicing as Pruitt was hopeful he’d be ready by the South Carolina game. But, until then, it’s Princeton Fant, Jacob Warren, Dee Beckwith and Jordan Allen getting the reps.
The OL continues to work through different rotations as they prepare for a season potentially without Cade Mays. Jerome Carvin and Jahmir Johnson continue pushing for spots along the 1’s. Will Friend is trying out multiple different scenarios, with the uncertainty of Mays. Darnell Wright is a player that many are hoping can step up and be a bit more consistent.
Matthew Butler and LaTrell Bumphus are two names I continue to hear about on the defensive line. This is a group that will need the depth, and could greatly benefit from players like Elijah Simmons and Kurot Garland.
Morven Joseph and Tyler Baron continue to push their teammates and have shown flashes of their ability this past week. I’ve been told that Morven is more of a finesse and agility type player, while Baron is more power.
You have to feel good about the promise of these young freshman, even if it’s just two weeks into practice, at least some depth can be built upon.
Jeremy Banks continues to soak it all in. “He plays with a controlled aggression that is unmatched”, as one source put it. He was also splitting reps with Quarvaris Crouch this week, in different settings. Henry To’o To’o continues to push the defense to get better, becoming that vocal leader, as he tries to duplicate what Daniel Bituli brought last season.
Tennessee DC Derrick Ansley said this week about the battle between Banks and Crouch “Those guys are battling tooth and nail for that starting position”
Also of note, Tennessee has moved J.J. Peterson to outside linebacker, according to Jeremy Pruitt.
In the secondary, besides the usual suspects, Doneiko Slaughter and Warren Burrell had some bright spots this week, according to a a few folks. There are going to be some battles in the secondary for starting positions over the next month, as Pruitt and Ansley have mentioned recently.
As for COVID, there were multiple players out Saturday night, with one position group being a little thin. This is something to keep an eye out on as they push forward.
The Vols are also battling a few injuries, so we’ll see who practices this week.
Keep tuning into Fox Sports Knoxville for continuous coverage of Fall Camp 2020.
All Images Courtesy Of Tennessee Athletic Communications