Tag Archives: Alton “Pig” Howard

Butch Jones putting Pig Howard decision in hands of ‘player staff’

Alton “Pig” Howard (photo by Michael Patrick)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones seems to have put the future of receiver Alton “Pig” Howard squarely in the hands of his player committee.

During a caravan event Monday night in Atlanta, Jones suggest that the 13-man “player staff” would meet with Howard before making a final decision.

I’m told Howard has appeared before the player staff at least once before and was given some forceful feedback about his commitment to football. The group even referenced a few messages on his Twitter account that they didn’t feel reflected positively on him or the team.

Even so, Jones said Monday night that he “just” got off the phone with Howard, and he seemed far more open to his return than he did this spring.

“He will go before the 13-person player staff and they will meet with him and make a decision,” Jones said. “It’s an honor and privilege to play at UT.”

Howard started 10 games in 2013, catching a team-high 44 passes for 388 yards.

Updating the (very) early Vols’ depth chart after a weekend of practices

Marquez North faced reporters for the first time on Saturday (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee won’t even put pads on for the first time until Tuesday, so our early spring depth chart is premature at best.

The depth chart is best viewed as a constantly evolving document rather than a permanent fixture. It’s certainly not the “official” depth chart — to the extent that such a thing even exists right now. But it does reflect our best guess based on watching a limited portion of practice and talking to players and coaches.

This depth chart also includes updated numbers and weights from the newly refreshed official roster.

The full numerical roster is on the main tab. Click each tab to the left to see the projected depth chart at each position.

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A few notes on some of the changes:

* I moved Von Pearson up the ladder after he appeared in the “first unit” during drills and had a very solid few days of drills.

With only eight healthy scholarship receivers, all eight would likely play in a hypothetical game if the season started today. The actual depth chart will become more clear as UT decides how it’s going to handle the slot receiver position in the absence of Alton “Pig” Howard. Pearson is getting a look at the spot, but Johnathon Johnson is also likely to play a lot there.

* We now have at least a framework for the offensive line. Dylan Wiesman could still push Kyler Kerbyson for a guard spot, or push Coleman Thomas for a starting job, which would slide Kerbyson to tackle. But because of his versatility, Wiesman would be a good “sixth man.”

* I think we’ll see plenty of cross-training in the secondary this spring, which will make it difficult to sort out where all the pieces will fit until August. I get the sense that coaches really like Emmanuel Moseley, but he will have to gain some pounds this summer.

I did this pre-spring rundown (linked below) with Vince Ferrara a few days ago, but most of it has held up pretty well since the start of spring.

A fresh look at Tennessee’s spring roster with new faces, new positions

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Consider the roster a handy guide for Tennessee spring football, which starts on Friday.

As we wrote earlier today on GoVolsXtra, receiver Alton “Pig” Howard will miss spring ball due to what were described as personal reasons. Additionally, Vols coach Butch Jones confirmed that freshman Neiko Creamer would start the spring at linebacker, while Devrin Young would be listed as a running back.

The net result, at least on paper, is that the receiving corps won’t look as robust as it might have a few weeks ago. But that should provide plenty of opportunities for Josh Malone and Von Pearson, who will be two of the most-watched players of spring camp.

The roster above includes updated numbers (Creamer moved from No. 82 to 31) but not new weights. Click on each of the tabs to see a breakdown by position, listed in a very, very rough depth chart.

Tennessee spring practice 2014: The receivers

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With spring practice less than a week away, we’re revisiting some of our projections from the post-season. Today: the receivers. 

Receivers coach Zach Azzanni (right) talks to offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian during practice. (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — There have a few changes which could alter the spring depth chart. First, here’s what I wrote a few months ago.

Marquez North emerged as a big-play threat in his freshman season with the Vols.

In an offense that struggled to throw downfield, he was sometimes the only big-play threat.

The good news is that North was still raw for much of his debut season and he should improve after a year of coaching.

Alton “Pig” Howard should hold down the slot position if he stays focused on off-the-field responsibilities. Coaches thought he turned a corner in maturity in the 2013 season, but they still have some lingering concerns about his ability to lead by example.

Jason Croom and Josh Smith shared the third receiver spot, although Croom began to pull away as the season progressed. I’m told there are no plans to move Croom to tight end, where he had worked some earlier in his career.

Only two players are leaving (see below). Vincent Dallas departed mid-season, while Josh Harris was the most surprisingly of the three players who were given their release earlier this month.

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Dallas had bounced between receiver and defensive back during his career. Harris was only a freshman, but his best chance to make an impact may have already come and gone during 2013.

There are reinforcements coming.

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Tennessee football position preview: Receivers will face competition from new faces

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

Receivers coach Zach Azzanni (right) talks to offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian during practice. (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeMarquez North emerged as a big-play threat in his freshman season with the Vols.

In an offense that struggled to throw downfield, he was sometimes the only big-play threat.

The good news is that North was still raw for much of his debut season and he should improve after a year of coaching.

Alton “Pig” Howard should hold down the slot position if he stays focused on off-the-field responsibilities. Coaches thought he turned a corner in maturity in the 2013 season, but they still have some lingering concerns about his ability to lead by example.

Jason Croom and Josh Smith shared the third receiver spot, although Croom began to pull away as the season progressed. I’m told there are no plans to move Croom to tight end, where he had worked some earlier in his career.

Only two players are leaving (see below). Vincent Dallas departed mid-season, while Josh Harris was the most surprisingly of the three players who were given their release earlier this month.

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Dallas had bounced between receiver and defensive back during his career. Harris was only a freshman, but his best chance to make an impact may have already come and gone during 2013.

There are reinforcements coming.

Continue reading

Devrin Young’s quiet — but remarkable — 2013 season

Devrin Young warms up before a game earlier this season (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Wide receiver Devrin Young‘s junior season at Tennessee was slowed by a hand injury.

The Knoxville native had a hard time cracking the rotation at slot receiver, where he was behind starter Alton “Pig” Howard and impressive newcomer Johnathon Johnson.

Most of Young’s playing time came as a punt returner.

But a review of the News Sentinel’s snap-by-snap database shows that Young maximized every snap he played on the field.

Snaps per game
Auburn 3
Austin Peay 9
Kentucky 13
South Carolina 3
Vanderbilt 3
Total 31

Young played only 31 offensive snaps in 2013. When Young was on the field, the Vols collected 336 yards. That’s an average of 10.84 yards per play. No one else on the roster was even close to that mark.

Obviously, the small sample size is important here. And this statistic is more a curiosity than anything meaningful.

But it’s still amazing the way that Young had a knack for being on the field when the Vols’ offense made a big play.

Young was on the field for gains of 32, 43, 40 and 37 yards.

But it wasn’t only big plays that skewed his numbers. Young was on the field for 13 plays of 10 yards or greater. 

One more crazy stat: Young finished the year with six catches for 79 yards.

That means he caught a pass on 19 percent of the snaps in which he participated. He was on the field for only 14 pass plays, meaning he caught a pass on 43 percent of those snaps.

What does this mean for Young’s future? Perhaps not much.

Young will be a senior in 2014, and with an influx of new receivers arriving this spring and summer, Young will have to fight for every snap he gets in his last season.

But he deserves credit for making the best use of every moment he was on the field in 2013.

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:

Vols prepping for ‘the red team’ in practice Tuesday (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s Alabama week — err, red team week — at Tennessee, and Tuesday’s practice clips should offer little doubt.

(For best results, watch in your highest available HD setting.)

Why are the Vols seeing red? Here’s an excerpt from my story in Wednesday’s News Sentinel:

The Vols chanted “RED!” as they wrapped up their stretching with jumping jacks on Tuesday.

When coach Butch Jones referred to Alabama by name on the wireless microphone that he totes around in practice, he quickly corrected himself to “the red team.”

Afterward, Jones downplayed the motivational ploy, saying it was “no big deal.”

But players said it was a way of tearing down some of the mystique that surrounded the nation’s top team, focusing players’ attention on the things they could control.

“Mentally, just by their name, when team’s hear that name, they’re mentally beat already before they step on the field,” said Tennessee receiver Alton “Pig” Howard. “I give them credit, but we’ve got warriors on our team as well. We’re ready to go to war.”

Vols’ depth chart changes for Alabama game

Devrin Young (News Sentinel photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — There were some minor changes to Tennessee’s official depth chart released on Monday morning.

Devrin Young is now listed as the backup slot receiver behind Alton “Pig” Howard, supplanting Johnathon Johnson.

Freshman defensive end Corey Vereen is now listed as the third Leo end behind starter Jacques Smith and Jordan Williams.

Linebacker Curt Maggitt, who hasn’t played all year as he recovers from ACL surgery, is no longer listed as a backup on the depth chart. Christian Harris, John Propst and Greg King are all in the two-deep behind starters A.J. Johnson, Dontavis Sapp and Brent Brewer.

Evan Woodbery

October 8, 2013

WR Pig Howard on how he knew he would have a bigger role: “(The coaches) didn’t tell me. Practice told me.”