KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A steamy late afternoon practice at Haslam Field is in the books.
Here are some hastily assembled observations from the open media session. We’ll have more after we talk to players and coaches in a few minutes…
* We saw a lot of veterans trying to help out the younger players. In particular I noticed Jacob Carter helping out some of the freshmen. When freshman Ryan Jenkins messed up on a drill, receivers coach Zach Azzanni said something like, “It’s not your fault,” and implied that players needed to help each other along in the drills.
* Freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs looks a lot more like a football player when he’s in a jersey. He looked incredibly skinny when he was on the sidelines watching practice in street clothes this spring, and he could still add some pounds. But he didn’t look out of place among the other quarterbacks.
* As for Dobbs and fellow freshmen Riley Ferguson, I don’t think we saw enough in Day 1 to register any sort of informed opinion. They weren’t asked to do a lot — at least not while we watching.
* We saw a lot of young guys working on fielding returns, including receiver Josh Smith and defensive back Malik Foreman.
* Walk-on running back Justus Pickett, a Maryland transfer, was working out with his teammates. We’ll see if we get any clarification on his status this weekend.
* Receiver Johnathon Johnson, one of the late additions to the Class of 2013, was speedy, but he’s only 5-foot-9. He could be a slot option.
* I thought Josh Smith looked very athletic in routes. Coaches corrected his blocking on one drill, but he otherwise seemed to do OK. Azzanni spent extra time working with Jenkins on one of the drills, making him go again and again until he got it right. First impression of MarQuez North: He’s huge.
* Butch Jones didn’t mention Daniel McCullers even once on Friday. The big defensive tackle was Jones’ favorite whipping boy in the spring. Today it was tight end Woody Quinn. “Come on, Woody!” Jones yelled several times. “Stick your routes!”
* The only player imprisoned within the fenced-in area reserved for injured players was tight end/linebacker Justin King. Tight end Justin Meredith did not participate in practice, but was not working out in the injured area.
* Among the early-practice music selections was the Rick Ross single “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).”