By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Here are my observations, notes and opinions on Tennessee football fall practice 2 on Saturday.
My blog here on SportsRadioWNML.com, Vince’s View, is driven by Oak Ridge Nissan.
-No Jeremy Pruitt availability after today’s 2nd practice. We will get a brief opportunity to ask him questions before their team photo at Neyland Stadium Sunday morning
-We are expected to talk to some select players for the first time this fall. That will be at the same time as Pruitt on Sunday.
-Sophomore DB Maleik Gray, who has practiced at both safety and corner during his time at UT, was taking reps at WR during our viewing session. We don’t know if that’s an experiment or full-time. We’ll check with the head coach on that Sunday.
-He impressed one coach by leaping high to make a fingertip catch, but he likely had some inconsistencies beyond when I saw him.
-Gray appeared in only two games in 2017. He did play some receiver in high school, but the college interest in the 4-star from LaVergne, TN was for defense per 247Sports’ Ryan Callahan.
-This coaching staff is very demanding on techniques, even in drills that seem very basic. If you don’t take the proper steps as they direct or you don’t finish, you will be called out.
–Daniel Bituli showed player leadership in a drill when he made a LB teammate go back and do a drill over again to get it right. That’s something you normally see from coaches. That’s a nice sign that he may be taking steps to fill the role of the “alpha dog” that Pruitt and coaches have been asked about several times already. Player leadership is a clear area of need for the Vols. Bituli is a good enough player to be that guy. He just has to stay healthy.
–Darrin Kirkland Jr. has the ability and experience to fill that leader role also, but he’s been farther back in line in drills and has been pretty quiet in the brief times I’ve been nearby. He does look like he’s moving around ok though after missing all of last season due to injury.
-There’s a ton of competition at all four LB spots that goes 3-deep with 12 scholarship guys.
-The outside linebackers competing for the Jack & Sam LB spots are: Jonathan Kongbo, Darrell Taylor, Austin Smith, Dillon Bates, Deandre Johnson and Jordan Allen.
-The inside linebackers competing for the Mike and Will (or sometimes just called left and right) LB spots are: Daniel Bituli, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Quart’e Sapp, Will Ignont, Solon Page III and Shanon Reid.
-Some LBs will crosstrain in different groups because Pruitt likes his LBs to be versatile “4-for-4 guys” (meaning they can play all 4 positions)
-It will be interesting to see where true freshman JJ Peterson practices at mostly whenever he arrives. It’s likely hurting his chances of getting on the field early by not being on-campus and practicing. I thought when signed, he had a chance to be an instant impact player for this team, so it is a set-back to this point.
-Sunday is an open practice for the fans and the media for Fan Day. The players won’t be in pads for this 3rd fall practice, but it will be our one extended look at the players before the season. Practice begins at Neyland Stadium at 2:30pm.
-Watch some footage from Practice 2 here
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