Tag Archives: A.J. Branisel

In new roster release, Vols added 284 pounds: See the gainers and losers

Jordan Williams is up to 272 pounds in the latest roster release (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee unveiled an updated roster over the weekend, which means we can now see “officially” what players have been saying informally for months.

The team, collectively, is considerably bigger than it was this time last year.

Individually As a whole, the Vols gained 419 pounds and lost 135 since the last roster update to net a 284-pound gain. (Although UT may have edited some players, I don’t believe the roster has gone through wholesale weight updates since August of 2013).

What stood out?

* Most of the defensive ends are bigger, including young players like Kendal Vickers and Jaylen Miller who you would expect to put on pounds.

* Coleman Thomas, a freshman who is working at first-team tackle, is up to 311 pounds. If he’s not SEC-ready, it won’t be a size issue.

* Brendan Downs is down 20 pounds to 228. Initially, I thought that might be a typo, but fellow tight end A.J. Branisel also dropped 11 pounds to 224. A strategy to make the tight ends more nimble? A coincidence? A typo? I’ll try to find out. (Update: I’m told the lower weights are, in fact, accurate as listed.)

* Receiver Von Pearson dropped four pounds but gained two inches. So there’s that. I doubt he went on a growth spurt at age 23, so we’ll try to get clarification on that too. (Update: I’m told 6-foot-3 is the official height.)

Other roster notes…

* There are a handful of new numbers. Most notably, freshman cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is now No. 12.

* Two walk-ons — linebacker Taylor Spivey and offensive lineman Jay Heins — are no longer on the roster.

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Vols receiver Ryan Jenkins will miss spring football with injury

Ryan Jenkins

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Redshirt freshman Ryan Jenkins had hoped to shake off an injury-riddled debut season with a fresh start in spring football.

But lingering injuries will keep him sidelined for spring football, which begins March 7.

Jenkins, tight end A.J. Branisel and defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry are all slated to miss the spring season, coach Butch Jones said.

Jenkins redshirted after dealing with persistent setbacks in his first year. He rarely practiced and spent most of time doing rehab. Jones was optimistic in December that Jenkins was improving, but offseason surgery thwarted his plan to return to action.

A graduate of Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga., Jenkins is the son of Lee Jenkins, a UT cornerback from 1980-82.

Tennessee football position preview: Vols will have more options at tight end in 2014

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The fifth in a series of position-by-position reviews of the Tennessee football team with an eye toward the start of spring practice in March.

Tight end Brendan Downs (KNS photo by Adam Brimer)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — By the end of the season, Tennessee’s second-string tight end was a recently converted quarterback.

That former quarterback, walk-on Joe Stocstill, was one of the pleasant surprises of 2013. Even so, coaches have no desire to repeat the scenario in 2014.

Two highly regarded freshman tight ends will enroll next week, which should give offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian some more flexibility this spring.

Everyone on the current roster except for Joseph Ayres will be back in 2014. Ayres suffered a career-ending ACL injury early in the year. He could have been a valuable reserve if he had stayed healthy.

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Tennessee-Vanderbilt pre-game updates (with photos)

The field-level view from Neyland Stadium before the Vanderbilt game (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — As promised, it’s chilly and windy as Tennessee prepares to kick off against Vanderbilt.

Here are a few quick pre-game notes and photos…

* Freshman tight end A.J. Branisel and defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry were both on crutches in the pre-game walk-through. It looks like receiver Cody Blanc will also be out.

Branisel’s absence could leave Joe Stocstill as the next option behind starter Brendan Downs.

* Take one name off the list of seniors to be honored today. Fourth-year junior Gregory Grieco will be back next year, we’re told. That means 27 players will be recognized.

Butch Jones walks with his players before the game (photo by Evan Woodbery)

Pre-game view of Neyland

Graduate assistant Larry Knight (left) and quality control assistant Terry Fair before the game (by Evan Woodbery)

Condredge Holloway visits with a staff member before the game

UT senior associate athletic director Mike Vollmar

GVX Reporter’s Notebook: Butch Jones continues quest to root out ‘softness’ (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones suggested a “fan poll” on Wednesday for the athletic department’s official website: “Who is softer? Player A or Player B?”

(He actually named his culprits, but we’ll leave that part out).

The only meaningful tidbit from our brief viewing period was seeing receiver Alton “Pig” Howard in a green, non-contact jersey. Howard appeared to be going through practice normally, so the jersey was probably just precautionary. Freshman tight end A.J. Branisel and safety Brian Randolph also wore green on Wednesday.

Branisel and Johnathon Johnson caught passes in the team period we saw.

Assistant coaches talk to reporters after practice today. Jones will be on Vol Calls tonight.

Here’s the video from Tuesday’s practice session:

GVX Reporter’s Notebook: Vols physical in Tuesday practice (with video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones delivered on his promise of a physical practice on Tuesday — at least in the brief viewing period open to the media.

The Vols (4-5, 1-4 SEC) play No. 7 Auburn (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: ESPN, noon).

Tennessee lost to Missouri 31-3 last week and Jones said the Vols were dominated on both lines of scrimmage.

Jones referred to the offensive line as “Club 90” on Tuesday for the number of rushing yards Tennessee managed at Mizzou.

He interrupted the pre-practice stretch — “Listen, we don’t need no elaborate stretch!” — for his Circle of Life drills, which are essentially one-on-one blocking competitions in front of the entire team.

“Everybody wants in (to the Circle) until you’re hit in the mouth,” Jones said.

We’d need another two or three entries for all the players who got called out as soft today. But his banter with running back Marlin Lane was most humorous.

After criticizing his weight room efforts, Jones asked running backs coach Robert Gillespie, “Robert, why do you have bigger traps (trapezoid muscles) than your running backs?”

Another line to Lane, a Daytona Beach, Fla., native: “We’re working on a trade to Bethune-Cookman.”

How much actual hitting took place after we left is unclear, but give Jones credit for advancing the storyline effectively while we were there.

* The only players in green non-contact jerseys Tuesday were true freshman tight end A.J. Branisel and safety Brian Randolph. Both players have been wearing green for weeks and still playing in games. Safeties Byron Moore and LaDarrell McNeil and cornerback Justin Coleman were all in orange.

* Lot of good music today, including B.o.B., 2Chainz and apparently unedited Young Jeezy. Song of the day, however, was “Tha Block is Hot” (feat. Juvenile and B.G.), which was on Lil’ Wayne’s debut album in 1999.

Tennessee football: Tight end a big part of the Vols offense


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Butch Jones arrived at Tennessee last December, he started recruiting tight ends almost immediately. In the Class of 2014, he hasn’t stopped.

Tennessee was very plain on offense in the opener against Austin Peay, almost never venturing from their basic set. Even so, it’s clear that the tight end will be a big part of the Vols’ offensive game plan in 2013.

The Vols had 73 snaps on Saturday, and there was little variation:

3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB: 69 (48 run, 20 pass, 1 sack)

4 WR, 1 RB: 1 (1 pass)

2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB: 1 (1 run)

3 WR, 2 RB: 2 (2 run)

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Tennessee football #PracticeGram: Scenes from Haslam Field

 

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — After a physical two-a-day on Monday, the Vols return to the practice fields this afternoon at 3:40 p.m.

There will be another two-a-day on Wednesday before the team’s official media on Thursday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.

We wrote today about Vincent Dallas moving to cornerback and what it means for the Vols’ defensive depth, plus a full complement of notes and quotes. Don’t forget to check out our practice video, too. (Watch it in your highest HD setting for best results.)

Now on to the photos. Click on the image for caption information and follow me on Instagram for immediate post-practice photos.

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Tennessee football practice: Quick review of Monday’s session

Don Mahoney, Tennessee

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney instructs players during practice at Haslam Field on Aug. 5, 2013, in Knoxville. (Photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee did some team work in the early session of Monday afternoon’s practice. The brief window offered few concrete details, but did reinforce how difficult it is for freshmen quarterbacks to win a starting job in August.

We’ll have more after we talk to coach Butch Jones and players later this evening.

* Among the notable plays from our view of the team work was a bad snap by third-string center Dylan Wiesman, a freshman, that sent quarterback Riley Ferguson scrambling after the ball.

Ferguson later threw an interception right in the numbers of safety Tino Thomas.

Co-third-team quarterback Josh Dobbs didn’t fare better, as he dropped a snap that hit off his hands in the last play we saw of the team drills before we had to leave for the evening.

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