By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Let’s review what we learned from week two of Tennessee football fall practice in my blog, “Vince’s View.”
-Positive COVID-19 tests pause practice
Friday’s practice was canceled because of “a few more” positive tests within the football program per Jeremy Pruitt. Everyone was retested and, to be safe, Pruitt decided to pause practice until they get test results back and they feel right about resuming practice. The number of positives were not given. Pruitt said they have plenty of time to get in their 18 remaining practices with just under a month to go before the season opener.
-Team organized march Saturday
The UT football team had practice shifted, so the team could participate in the peaceful march promoting racial equality on UT’s campus
We must work even harder to create a campus where everyone matters and belongs. Volunteers step forward in leadership and service. Let’s step forward and show the world what kindness, equity, and inclusion for all people can look like. #VolIsAVerb pic.twitter.com/GkyN0z5ZMU
— Donde Plowman (@DondePlowman) August 29, 2020
-Vols complete 7th fall practice Saturday
UT was back on the practice field Saturday. This was a great sign considering everyone was retested for COVID-19. There were no photos or videos of this practice made available to the media. The Vols are now more than a quarter through preparations for the 2020 season that begins September 26 with UT at South Carolina.
-Pads are popping
Tennessee began full padded practices in Week 2 with practice #5. UT has completed three of those so far.
-Matthew Butler’s leadership
The players have talked about the watch-dog roles they have to have to make sure everyone’s making the right decisions. The senior DE Butler mentioned how they stay on guys to do all the standard social distancing and safety things. He even mentioned not just wearing masks, but staying on guys to cover their nose and mouth with the masks. I thought that was an impressive and encouraging bit of attention to detail. Seems basic, but how many people do you see doing the chin-only mask nonsense? Not good enough, especially for what’s at stake for them. Player leadership this season is paramount.
-Harrison Bailey draws compliments from Pruitt
The true freshman 5-star QB “really kinda shined” in one period of the 6th practice according to Pruitt. That’s an encouraging compliment, especially considering he missed the first week of practices.
-Jarrett Guarantano’s camp
He’s had “six really good days (practices)” according to the head coach. Pruitt has consistently stood by the much-criticized senior starting QB while still wanting more out of him. Guarantano has added about 15 lbs of muscle and is up to 230 lbs, per the roster.
-Trevon Flowers shifts safety positions
The junior moves from free safety to Nigel Warrior’s spot the last few seasons, strong safety. Flowers needs to stay healthy and be more consistent. SS is his more natural position and it keeps sophomore Jaylen McCollough at free safety where he started in the latter part of last season.
-Depth in the secondary
DC Derrick Ansley said there are a lot of options in the secondary. He mentioned redshirt senior CB Kenneth George Jr. and sophomore CB Warren Burrell as guys that are having good camps among the backups fighting for bigger roles. He said true freshman talent Key Lawrence was a young guy making a push for playing time. He feels the secondary needs to be the strength of the defense.
-DL coach Jimmy Brumbaugh impacting coaches and players
Ansley called new assistant coach Jimmy Brumbaugh the best D-line coach in the country. DE Matthew Butler said Brumbaugh “meticulous about the details” of the game. Butler knew how good he was when after about two days, Brumbaugh showed the players a breakdown of last year’s Georgia game with some things they overlooked that could have changed the game and the outcome. He was impressed and has remained so.
-Cade Mays fitting in nicely
It’s no surprise that Cade Mays has made an impression with Jim Chaney, Jeremy Pruitt and teammates. Chaney coached him at Georgia and knows how good he can be, Mays from Georgia wasn’t a finished product. He’s a first-round draft talent, but his play can be even better with a talented group around him. Yo, NCAA…about that appeal from UT.
-Freshman OL Javontez Spraggins packs a punch
In a few drills I’ve seen of the true freshman offensive lineman from East St. Louis, Illinois, Spraggins was physical and punched with authority like coaches want. Most guys, especially newcomers, have a tendency to go through the motions of the drill. You hear “violent hands” on the practice field all the time from coaches. Spraggins, in a small sample size, has done that. Spraggins was the biggest weight loser on the team per the updated football roster, as I outlined in my roster by the numbers analysis blog. He lost 37 pounds, going from 352 to 315. He’s not likely to be pressed into action, but he seems to be off to a good start. Look for number 76 in practice videos at 991TheSportsAnimal.com.
-Tight Ends competitive and “special”
Sr. WR Josh Palmer was very complimentary of the tight end room saying they were “special.” Jim Chaney seemed pleased with the group that does include starter Austin Pope, who has returned from back surgery. Don’t get it mixed, even if some progress with Jacob Warren, Princeton Fant and others has been made, this is an unproven group that’s a question mark on this team.
-WR Deangelo Gibbs opts not to play in 2020
Jeremy Pruitt announced that the redshirt Jr. Gibbs has decided not to play this season to focus on his academics. There was no mention of COVID-19 in Gibbs’ decision. He sat about last season after transferring from Georgia. This drops UT to just 10 scholarship wide receivers. 5 of them are true freshmen. See below.
-All freshmen wide receivers will be needed to play
Jeremy Pruitt said they will need all freshmen wide receivers to play this year. The five are…Jalin Hyatt, Malachi Wideman, Jimmy Calloway, Dee Beckwith and Jimmy Holiday. Now, that can include special teams, not necessarily meaningful snaps right away at wide receiver right away. A few will get to that level. The question is, who will get to that meaningful snap level quickly? I think Hyatt will be one. We have 17 practices to figure out the others.
Find more of my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net.