KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — For all the talk of a “bidding war” or “arms race” for top college football assistant coaches, Tennessee’s shakeup at running backs coach last month appears to have few financial ramifications.
New assistant Robert Gillespie will make $300,000 at UT in 2013, which is exactly what he would have made at West Virginia.
Former running backs coach Jay Graham was scheduled to make $260,000 at UT and had been offered a raise to $300,000 before leaving. Florida State has not released his new salary, but it’s expected to be in the same ballpark as UT’s offer.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — As I watched Tyler Bray effortlessly zip passes to his receivers during Tennessee‘s pro day last week, I turned to a media friend and said, “Some NFL team is going to get really lucky, especially if he slips past the second round.”
He agreed. In fact, it’s hard to find someone who has been around the UT football program who doesn’t agree. Bray is a special talent. He’s a rare physical specimen with a great arm. He’s a natural athlete.
Yet there’s a surprising amount of vitriol directed at Bray — and much of it comes from Tennessee fans.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The best way to find out who is catching the coaches’ attention in practice?
The media had our weekly visit with assistant coaches after Thursday’s practice, the final one before spring break. (You can read other coverage from today here and here.)
When coaches are given an open-ended question about players, the first name out of their mouths is the one I go with. Given enough time, coaches usually hit the entire roster in the name of diplomacy.
So who is standing out? Here are some names we heard:
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s sixth football practice — and the final one before a weeklong spring break — was just as physical as the last two.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones set the tone during the early stretching session, yelling into the mic, “The soft guys will get exposed!”
Jones was particularly active on the mic today, calling out and challenging players — sometimes playfully, sometimes not.
“We’re fighting for blades of grass today,” he said several times.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee‘s pro day included an interesting mix of players fighting for millions of dollars in the first couple of rounds of the NFL draft, and players just fighting to get a chance.
We tried to cover both sides in today’s pro day coverage. Check out the links below.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — We’ve talked all spring about how new Tennessee coach Butch Jones likes to foster competition in every practice.
The result is a lot of intensity from players and — as you can see in the video from Tuesday above — from coaches.
It also makes practice infinitely more interesting for those of us watching on the sidelines. (Open practices are great and all, I used to joke, except for those two hours when you have to actually watch practice).
Whether it’s the newness of Jones’ system, the promise of new wrinkles on both sides of the ball or the looming personnel questions for the Vols in 2013, practices this spring have ranged from from mildly interesting to riveting. That’s not bad.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s pro day began in the weight room, as players hit the scale and lifted in front of dozens of NFL scouts and executives.
It finished with familiar sights: Tyler Bray throwing passes to old teammates Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Mychal Rivera.
We’ll have video and interviews from today’s pro day later this afternoon.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Butch Jones like competition in practice, and Tuesday morning’s session offered plenty of it.
Our videos feature tons of hits and pad crunches in a tackling drill between linebackers and offensive players. You’ll also see some one-on-one matchups between receivers and defensive backs.
You can catch up on all of our video here, or just subscribe to my Youtube page to get updates as they happen.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Three days after the first scrimmage of the season, the Tennessee football team was back indoors, but there was still plenty of pads crunching.
During one scrimmage-like team session on Tuesday morning, head coach Butch Jones was so thrilled with the way the defense swarmed to the ball, he made an impromptu decision.
“When you swarm to the ball, you get rewarded,” Jones yelled into his mic. “For the next three plays, the quarterback is LIVE.”