Video: The best linebacker hits of Tennessee practice this week


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.


My favorite part of Tuesday’s practice starts at about the 1:50 mark of the video above. Most, but not all, of the battles are won by the defense, much to the excitement of linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen. 


Let’s run down the top five linebacker stops.


1. LB Justin Thomas vs. TE Charles Folger

Notable: Thomas seems to overcommit at first, prompting Thigpen to groan, but he recovers with a nice tackle and strip. Then he has the presence of mind to pick up the ball and run. The spike at the end is a nice touch. Bonus points to Marlin Lane, who tried to make a late tackle.

Thigpen Excitement Level: 6


2. LB A.J. Johnson vs. TE Brock Collier

Notable: Clean, hard hit.

Thigpen Excitement Level: 8


3. LB Channing Fugate vs. TE Joseph Ayres

Notable: Not sure he planned it that way, but nice WWE flip to bring down the big tight end.

Thigpen Excitement Level: 7


4. LB Christian Harris vs. TE Justin King (I think)

Notable: Harris was not going to take “the play is dead” for an answer. He was hanging on until someone physically pried him away. The trash-talking by Thigpen here is great.

Thigpen Excitement Level: 9


5. LB Gregory Grieco vs. RB Alden Hill

Notable: Grieco takes Hill down by undercutting him, a risky strategy if Hill is able to elude at the last moment, but Grieco makes it work.

Thigpen Excitement Level: 5


Check out our previous videos on YouTube and subscribe to get the latest. We’ll have more from the final practice before spring break on Thursday. (We’ll also some pro-day videos that have been delayed due to technical difficulties).


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