Knoxville, TN>--(UTSports) Butch Jones led the Vols through their 10th spring practice on Tuesday afternoon. Jones was happy with the Vols first practice in shells this spring.
"I thought today we had a productive day," said Jones. "First shells practice for this football team, again, it is understanding now how do you practice with shells. I thought our players for the most part did a good job of handling that. We will be back in full pads on Thursday. But a lot of fundamental work."
Key to Tuesday's practice was that the baker's dozen Vols who are sidelined from full participation in spring football joined in the session in various ways.
"The great thing about today's practice is we were able to involve 13 of the individuals that are missing spring practice," said Jones. "We were able to involve them in some fashion of practice today. So for them to actually get some physical reps, get some mental reps was great and it is also helpful for our younger players, now to see our older players get lined up in a stance, do some different things. So a very, very productive day."
Sophomore Emmanuel Moseley was back in action on Tuesday after missing time suffering from mononucleosis.
"Emmanuel is back," said Jones following Tuesday's practice. "He has been cleared so they had Emmanuel Moseley back in practice and add to that competitive structure, component that we talk about in our football program. It was great to have him back."
Also, running back Alvin Kamara returned to action after being limited over the last few practices with a thigh bruise.
"It was good to have Alvin Kamara back in practice," said Jones. "(He) gave us some valuable repetitions. Jalen Hurd had a lot of valuable repetitions today. So as many reps as those two individuals can get, the more the better."
KELLY LOCKS IT DOWN
As the Vols re-entered the Anderson Training Center following Tuesday's practice, one Vol was wearing a little extra jewelry. Now the Vols don't allow necklaces to be worn on the practice field, with the exception of one: the lockdown chain, a thick chain with a large master lock.
Sophomore safety Todd Kelly Jr., earned the honor of being Mr. Lockdown following his performance over the last week.
"It's the lockdown chain,"Kelly told the media following practice, "whoever has the most swarm points out of the defensive backfield that's who gets it. You wear it before and after practice. I had a pretty good scrimmage Saturday and I got some swarm points so I was awarded the lockdown chain."
Coach Jones said its important for unit coaches to reward their players.
"That is a motivational tool that Coach Martinez uses," said Jones. "We talk about power of the position. Every coach is a group leader of their position group and it is their responsibility, it is the players responsibility to work to be the best position group to meet their full potential. But we never diminish the team concept. Coach Martinez does a great job with that and it is something the defensive backs came up with and it is something that they are extremely motivated with."
It means a lot to Kelly to wear the heavy-duty chain.
"We take pride in the defensive backfield," Kelly said. "You know we're the last line of defense so we've got to keep it up back there."
Will Kelly wear the chain back to his campus room?
"It's kind of heavy so I'm gonna hang it up in the defensive backfield room once I leave here, but I've got to show it off to the receivers and what not," he said. "At the end of the day it's just a pride thing. Whoever has it we all support them."
DORMADY DEEP INTO VOLS PLAYBOOK
Freshman quarterback Quinten Dormady is making the most of his opportunity to enroll early at Tennessee and begin practicing with Team 119.
"It's huge to come in right now, get in the playbook, get around the guys, throw, go through spring. That's a huge advantage."
The quarterback is focusing on multiple different aspects of the game in order to successfully transition from high school to college football.
"I'm just trying to do what I can as far as getting in the playbook, that kind of thing, getting around the players, talking to them," said Dormady. "I'm just trying to work out the little kinks because obviously this is my first spring with this group of players so there's definitely little kinks to work out."
Dormady has observed that the main difference between college and high school football is the speed, but that's not the aspect of the game that he's working on the most.
"The thing I've been working on the most is my footwork," Dormady said. "You know, moving in the pocket, doing the right drop with the right concept."
Dormady is also getting more comfortable with running the ball, something he didn't do much in high school.
"Coming out of high school I didn't necessarily run the ball a whole lot, but I think that the game is going that way and you have to be able to run."
The quarterback is also getting adjusted to the increase in play calls and a wider variety of defensive coverage.
"Going into high school games, the defense is going to run a couple different coverages. Here, there's more than a couple that they're going to run in a game. I'm just kind of figuring that out."
Despite his quick transition to college football and campus life, Dormady is thankful for the help he's receiving from both coaches and players.
"I think I'm getting more and more comfortable each day. Obviously it's going to take time but I think I'm on the right track right now," Dormady said. "The coaches are obviously helping me, Josh [Dobbs] is helping me. We're all working together and that's how it should be."
VICKERS MAKES MOVE INSIDE
Moving positions isn't always easy, but it seems as though redshirt sophomore Kendal Vickers has found a home as an inside player on the defensive line.
Since last fall camp, Vickers has gone from 265 pounds to 288 pounds. Vickers hasn't lost his speed and he's only improved in the weight room as he can now squat 710 pounds.
His improvements in every area of his game have impressed defensive line coach Steve Stripling as well as the head of Team 119.
"Kendal Vickers right now is an inside player for us. He has handled that move exceptionally well," head coach Butch Jones said. "He has put the added weight on that is needed to play inside. He is becoming more and more comfortable in that role, in that position. You can see the speed of the game slowing down for him. You can really start to see him now use his technique.
"And we talk about toughness and technique and leverage, every player in our program is given a leverage grade after every single practice and you can see the improvements are marked and very visible each and every practice. I have been very pleased with him."
Vickers enjoys the move to the inside and is now comfortable at the position knowing that he can help his team.
"I kind of like playing in the phone booth better," Vickers said. "I've always been good with my hand. Playing inside, I can utilize that a lot more than I did on the outside. "
Vickers notes that despite playing in five games last season, it was a season that he defines as a process to finally get where he is this spring. Vickers credits his teammates for pushing him to improve as well as his locked in mentality.
"Last year was kind of a process. I was underweight when coach moved me to tackle, so I was still doing a lot of the things that I'm doing now but I was still undersized. Now that I'm at the weight I need to be I feel like I'm doing a lot better job."
Lining up against Jashon Robertson and working next to LaTroy Lewis, he feels as though he's getting even better with the great competition.
"It's rough sometimes," Vickers said. "Sometimes I get the best of [Jashon] and sometimes he gets the best of me. One thing is that we compete every day, and when we compete every day, we're making each other better."
One aspect that Vickers has improved on is his mentality. Being all in for Team 119, his consistency has allowed him to focus on daily goals while acclimating to the playbook.
"Maybe before I wasn't as locked in as I am now," Vickers said. "I have no excuse. I'm going 110 miles per hour.
"It's me not thinking so much and just reacting. I can react to blocks. I can react to a lot of things. I'm a lot smarter than I was before. I can see the back field and know what's coming. I've gotten a lot smarter."
DANIEL READY FOR PUNTING CHANCE
During the 2014 season, the Tennessee Volunteers punted 80 times. All 80 of those punts came from the right leg of senior Matt Darr, who posted an average of 42.2 yards per punt and was named a candidate for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation's top punter.
With Darr gone, there is an opening for the starting position on the 2015 team. Enter walk-on redshirt sophomore Trevor Daniel. Daniel, an in-state product from Dickson County High School, has been making a strong push for the job this spring.
"It is a big opportunity for me," said Daniel after practice on Tuesday. "It's a blessing for me because I'm a walk-on, and so I'm really excited about it."
Daniel knows that he needs to keep improving and mentions striving for consistency as his primary focus. He says that head coach Butch Jones has been pushing him, but that he embraces the challenge.
"I love whenever people to push me to be better," said Daniel. "It just makes me work harder and makes me want to try harder. I feel like it improves my punting."
More competition for the starting punter position will arrive during the summer when Vols' signee Tommy Townsend steps on to campus. Townsend was a 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection and received a scholarship from Tennessee. Daniel welcomes the addition of Townsend, but makes it clear that he will fight hard for that starting spot.
"Somebody's got to step up and I'm trying to be that guy," Daniel said. I know there's competition, but hopefully I can be the starting punter."
Here are sound bites from #Team119:
HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES
»(On student appreciation day on Saturday)
"We will mix some special things in for the students. I am excited. I know our players are excited, we could have upwards to 5,000 to 7,000 students. We have some giveaways for them. They will have a photo opportunity to take their picture with the TaxSlayer Bowl trophy. So it will be a great event. Our student body means everything to us, all of our students, our fans, our faculty, our alumni, everything. We are `One Tennessee.' To be able to have practice with our student body, I always look forward to it."
»(On senior wide receiver Von Pearson)
"Von responded like I would think he would respond. He came out here, he was competitive. Von is a smart player, he is a smart individual, he knows the standard, he knows the expectations. Very fitting, he responded the way we would like to see him respond. I was pleased with his practice today. We did challenge him."
»(On the spring game)
"I think it is important for us. But every year is different, every team is different. Sometimes spring games are a nightmare for coaches, you are worried about injuries, it is practice 15, you want to finish strong. Right now our spring game is going to be a great event but it is going to be a challenge managing our numbers. But it will be great to see for our fans because we will do circle of life, we will do some one-on-ones, we will do some O-line, D-line, individual competitive drills. We will make it an event. It is more of a spring event and then we will also play football as well. So I think each team is different in terms of what you need for a spring game. But it is always a challenge as a coaching staff with your spring game and you are always worried about, you have great momentum, because everything is about momentum and moving forward to your next phase of your program which is the summer months."
SOPHOMORE DEFENSIVE BACK TODD KELLY JR.
»(On competing with sophomore defensive back Evan Berry)
"He's a great player, but at the same time I'm trying to work on my craft. I see he's working hard, so i have to work hard as well. At the end of the day I'm gonna try to perfect myself and get better at what I need to get better at. But you know it's always great to see you're teammates get better on the field. We love to push each other and just try to make plays out there."
»(On being talked about as part of the legacy class)
"We came here for one purpose and one purpose only. And that was to play for the University of Tennessee. It's a great privilege that our father and cousins and what not played for the University of Tennessee. And we take great pride in that, but now that we're here we want to focus on that and focus on school and just making a difference for the University of Tennessee."
FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK QUINTEN DORMADY
»(On perfecting his game and his responsibilities)
"You have to focus on the little details and get everything right. Especially with our defense, they're playing their butts off right now. They're doing a really good job mixing things up. You definitely have to be on and the little things and do your job and then you've also got to make sure everyone else is lined up and that kind of thing."
RS SOPHOMORE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN KENDAL VICKERS
»(On the support from back home)
"My family follows me every day. I still talk to my high school coaches to this day. My parents came down last week for Family Day. They're supporting me. I have family here in Knoxville supporting me. I'm just a dude from Havelock trying to make it out."
»(On if he thinks he's getting extra reps)
"It would have been the same If the guys were still in. I feel like when the guys come back everybody is going to be clicking as one. I think it's going to be a lot better when those guys come back."
SOPHOMORE OFFENSIVE LINEMAN JASHON ROBERTSON
»(On competition between teammates)
"Of course there is competition all over the place in this building. We compete in any and every way that we can. There's competition in the weight room, on the field. We enjoy the process and the process of competing. It's just a fun time practicing, playing and lifting. It's all fun."
»(On how nonstop competition helps him)
"You're never content or complacent. You're always driving to be better and to improve on things. Get quicker hands. Get quicker feet. Whatever it is. We have a goal every week. We sit down with our coaches, make that goal and talk about whether or not you achieved that goal the week before. If you didn't you keep the same goal. Through competition, you see your mishaps and you improve on them."
SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER JOHNATHON JOHNSON
»(On Josh Malone and Von Pearson's improvements since last season)
"As far as [Josh] Malone, to me he's really grown up as far as his mentality and his approach to practice. Same with Von [Pearson], he knows the system better and his approach to practice is a lot better as well. They're both progressing."
»(On his improvements)
"One thing Coach Z [Azzanni] told me to focus on coming in this spring is my upper body verse press. So I've been working on that, getting off those presses, getting in the weight room so I'm stronger so I can beat press coverage. That's one thing I've been working on."
»(On the tempo)
"That's something we work on every day. It's definitely getting better. It's not where we want it to be, but we're making progress."
RS SOPHOMORE PUNTER TREVOR DANIEL
»(On the opportunity to punt at Tennessee)
"I've always wanted to play football, especially here. I thought maybe I could give it a shot and see what I could do. I was just real excited to get the opportunity to come here."
»(On the difference in punting in high school and college )
"[In] high school, it was just kick the ball over their head. Now it's op time, ball placement...They want it perfect, pretty much."