KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Dark skies and a quick rain marked the opening of what might be Tennessee’s final spring practice at Haslam Field Wednesday morning.
Then the sun came out, the rain departed and it got really hot in a hurry.
Coach Butch Jones wasn’t entirely satisfied with the start of practice. After a sloppy team period, Jones yelled, “Let’s get better at this!” Then, dissatisfied with the way players ran to the next station, he called the entire team to the middle of the field for some choice words (without using the microphone to amplify his voice).
* Tennessee is tentatively scheduled to practice at Neyland Stadium on Thursday. The Orange & White game on Saturday is the final session of the spring.
* “The Hole” — Tennessee’s on-field prison for injured players — was especially crowded today, although I believe the only new additions were cornerback Riyahd Jones and defensive lineman Daniel Hood. (Although Hood was only wearing green, which is not as serious as the yellow jerseys).
* Running back Marlin Lane, suspended due to “disciplinary reasons,” was absent for the third consecutive practice and fourth since players returned from spring break.
* A helicopter camera/unmanned drone was hovering over the sidelines Wednesday, apparently going through some testing with its operator nearby.
I’m not sure if coaches are interested in another angle for film study, or this is strictly for the purposes of getting better shots for the Vols’ video production team.
* Receiver Alton “Pig” Howard had another drop in the team period. Devrin Young was destroyed in the backfield for a large loss, although there was little he could do to avoid it.
The best catch of the day, perhaps surprisingly, was by big tight end Charles Folger, who made a leaping grab and held on despite a big hit.
* Running back Alden Hill was working with the first group in the team period, although I wouldn’t necessarily read too much into that. It’s quite possible that they put Rajion Neal in bubble wrap until August given the lack of running back depth.
* Freshman defensive lineman Corey Vereen was flagged for an offsides penalty in team session. “That’s lack of discipline. That’s losing football,” Jones said.
* On punt returns, Devrin Young and walk-on Winston Williams looked sharpest, while Pig Howard had one hiccup but held onto the ball.
We’ll have more video, photos and more later this afternoon.