Tag Archives: Alden Hill

After departure of Alden Hill, Vols still have plenty of options in backfield

Alden Hill goes through a drill this spring (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Running back Alden Hill announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the football program.

The third-year sophomore reserve would likely have found it tough to get reps in the increasingly crowded Tennessee backfield.

The Vols are likely to have five scholarship running backs on the roster in 2014, including seniors Marlin Lane and Devrin Young. Three true freshman, including early arrival Jalen Hurd, are also in the fold. Plus, the Vols have added depth from walk-ons Justus Pickett, Chris Beck and Deanthonie Summerhill.

The Vols have only 11 players remaining from the Class of 2012, the last group signed and recruited by Derek Dooley and his staff.

They are: defensive end LaTroy Lewis, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, linebacker Justin King, linebacker Kenny Bynum, quarterback Nathan Peterman, receiver Jason Croom, receiver Drae Bowles, receiver Cody Blanc and kicker George Bullock. Receiver Alton “Pig” Howard is currently on leave from the program and his future status is uncertain.

Unofficially, the Vols now have 83 players on scholarship.

An updated look at Tennessee’s spring depth chart at the break

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee football team is on spring break, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are in the NCAA tournament and I’m taking a few days off this week.

But the break is a good time to review the spring depth charts we unveiled a couple of weeks ago. The depth charts are still unofficial — and very speculative — but we have a lot more to go on than we did before spring began.

The scrimmage on Friday provided some useful guidance, although I tried not to overreact to individual performances — especially at volatile positions like quarterback.

You can see the full depth charts above. Listen below for my take on the Friday scrimmage.

Read on for a summary of some of the changes I made to the charts.

* Receivers are cross-training at several positions right now, and with only eight on scholarship, they all got significant looks in the scrimmage. The actual order is more difficult to decipher.

* At running back, I bumped Alden Hill and Justus Pickett up a notch. Hill risks being a spring hero for the second year in a row, but perhaps he can translate that spring production into more fall playing time in 2014.

* It’s not clear how serious the injury to Jason Carr is, but his absence leaves the Vols with only four scholarship defensive tackles. (Is it too late to get Gregory Clark to change his mind?) Developing better depth at that position will be crucial this summer.

* Freshman walk-on Colton Jumper soared up the depth chart after he played quite a bit on the second-team defense. That could be due to injuries, message-sending or just the fact that Jumper has had a really good spring. Jalen Reeves-Maybin seems to have a good hold on the third linebacker spot, but he will face challenges from new arrivals this summer.

* The defensive backs depth chart has a little more clarity, as we got a good look at the first and second teams in nickel sets. Brian Randolph will reclaim one of those starting safety roles when he returns from injury.

Departure of 3 players slims Vols’ scholarship roster for new arrivals to come (with updated roster)

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The expected attrition on Tennessee’s roster is already under way.

Running back Tom Smith, defensive back Tino Thomas and receiver Paul Harris are moving on and have been given releases to transfer to other programs.

The only mild surprise among those three players is Harris, who arrived in January to lofty praise from coaches. But he struggled mightily in spring and never was able to turn a corner in the fall. With an influx of new receivers on the way, his best chance at playing time had already come and gone.

Thomas was a grayshirt who signed in 2011 but delayed his enrollment until 2012. He finally played a few games on special teams in 2013, but his contributions were limited beyond that.

Smith actually did quite well in garbage-time opportunities in spring and some early-season games. But his chances of ever having a meaningful role as a running back were slim. And unlike fellow reserve running back Alden Hill, Smith never caught on as a special-teamer.

There could be more departures to come, of course, but the Vols already have plenty of breathing room under the 85-man scholarship limit. By my unofficial count, the Vols have 55 players on scholarship, but that includes some former walk-ons who could be dropped back down to walk-on status.

Even beyond that, there are plenty of other candidates for attrition among scholarship players. But coaches won’t have to press that issue until the summer.

‘Back-to-basics’ day at practice for the Vols

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — In the first of two off-week practices open to the media, Tennessee spent extra time on special teams and other individual drills that might get squeezed out of practices during game weeks.

Head coach Butch Jones spent a lot of time with working the punt teams. He also watched a lot of the receivers. The good news: We saw very few drops — none by scholarship receivers — in drills that might have had a dozen in the spring.

In the “Circle of Life” one-on-one competitions, linebacker Kenny Bynum apparently beat running back Alden Hill, because Jones started calling him “Alden Bynum.”

Later, Jones called Hill “Mr. Personal Foul,” in reference the penalty called on him on the first play of the Georgia game. Hill responded by calling Jones, “Coach Unsportsmanlike Conduct” in reference to Jones’ penalty on the first play of the second half. Just kidding. That second part didn’t happen.

* On the music front, good selections from the Big Tymers and Young Jeezy today.

Stories, video and more coming on GoVolsXtra….

Tennessee football depth chart: A position-by-position glance at the Vols’ depth

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(to view the document above in its own window, click here)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s new depth chart released on Monday didn’t reveal any major surprises, but it did show the Vols’ depth issues with more vivid clarity.

The receiver spot, for example, may lack SEC talent or experience. But it doesn’t lack in numbers. The defensive tackle position has SEC-level talent, but worrisome depth. The cornerback spot? Well, some fear it has all the above.

The chart above is my best interpretation of Tennessee’s complete depth chart, listing every player on the roster. (Some late-arriving walk-ons are not yet listed, as they have not been officially added to the roster. That could happen as soon as today).

A few things I found interesting…

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Tennessee football practice: Vols return after a 2-day break

Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie at practice on Aug. 22, 2013. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie at practice on Aug. 22, 2013. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — After 48 hours away from the practice fields, players returned on Thursday to higher expectations from coach Butch Jones.

“Nice and fresh!” he yelled. “You oughtta be nice and fresh.”

We’ll find out later if Jones noticed any rejuvenation. For now, here are some post-practice notes:

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Tennessee football practice quick hits: Shells on and intensity heats up

Alex Ellis, Tennessee

Tennessee tight end Alex Ellis looks in a pass from the JUGS gun during a practice drill on Aug. 4, 2013 at Haslam Field in Knoxville. (Photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee players wore shells (shoulder pads and helmets) for their third practice on Sunday, so while full-pad hitting is still a couple of days away, there was room for a little more contact.

We’ll talk to players and coach Butch Jones when practice ends this evening. For now, here are some quick observations from the media viewing period.

* The first of several one-on-one competitions at midfield featured running back Alden Hill against linebacker Kenny Bynum. Because these scrums are surrounded by a wall of players, we didn’t see who won.

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Tennessee football scrimmage: Saturday’s view from the sidelines

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The biggest news out of Saturday’s scrimmage came afterwards, when coach Butch Jones confirmed that Lane was out for “disciplinary reasons.”


Jones did not give a timetable for Lane’s possible return.


After Lane missed a practice last week, Jones said he was dealing with an illness in his family. After he missed practice on Thursday, coaches were more evasive about his status, and today’s announcement by Jones seems to cast doubt on Lane’s future with the team.

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