Tag Archives: Brian Randolph

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.

Tennessee football position preview: Defensive backs will face fresh competition for jobs

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

Justin Coleman warms up before the Kentucky game (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee is returning all of its starters and more than 90 percent of its snaps at defensive back in 2014, which might normally be construed as good news.

But as the Vols’ defense has struggled at times over the last two years, the defensive backs have taken a heavy load of the blame.

While not all that criticism was fair, Tennessee’s lack of speed and depth were factors at times in 2013. That should ensure that no one’s job is safe in 2014.

Well, almost no one.

Cameron Sutton, who played a team-high 746 snaps on defense as a true freshman in 2013, can probably be safely penciled in as one of the cornerbacks.

Justin Coleman could be an option to shift to nickel if the Vols’ can find another Sutton waiting to blossom among their crop of new players.

Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil could also face added competition. At the very least, all the starters should have backups that coaches feel more comfortable giving playing time.

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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 #PracticeGram: Scenes from this weekend’s scrimmage and practices


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Vols have pushed back Monday’s practice until the evening. Butch Jones has said it will be one of the most critical practices of camp, as Tennessee is only days away from shifting from training camp mode to game-prep mode.

We’ll have news, notes and quotes late this evening after practice. Then check back for video and photos.

The photos below include shots from Saturday evening’s scrimmage at Neyland Stadium and the Sunday practice at Haslam Field. Click on the photo for caption information.

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Tennessee football practice: Scenes from Sunday’s special teams work (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — There was more harping on the punting unit in Sunday’s practice, although I managed to find a few “attaboys” in the video to balance out the negative stuff.

Will it be an adventure the first time Tennessee has to punt the football? I don’t think so. Most of the problems are on the second team. Butch Jones is a stickler for details on special teams, so even the second unit probably isn’t as bad as it might seem.

Also included in the video are comments from Jones and Brian Randolph, some outstanding hip-hop selections from the Haslam Field DJ and photos of puppies. But you have to make it to the end for that.

Tennessee football practice: Observations from Saturday morning scrimmage


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — There’s a nice symmetry to August. A bad performance by a unit one day is usually followed by a bounce-back performance the next afternoon.

Sometimes the coaches orchestrate the ups and downs. But on Saturday morning, the defense’s dominance appeared genuine.

In a wide-ranging, hour-long situational and special teams scrimmage at Haslam Field, the Vols defense clearly won the day.

Or at least the morning. There will be another scrimmage this evening at Neyland Stadium. Don’t be surprised if the offense looks better.

Plenty of meaty observations today…

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Tennessee football 2013 spring preview: Defensive backs


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s first spring football season under new coach Butch Jones begins Saturday.

In the days leading up to the start of practice, we’ll take a position-by-position look at the Vols as they embark on a new season.

The defensive backs are in desperate need of a fresh start after last year’s defensive disaster. This group can’t possibly be as bad as it appeared at times in 2012, and a good mixture of veterans and talented newcomers could surprise people in 2013. After last year’s performances, it’s tough to project many starting jobs, meaning spring will be critical for impressing new coaches.

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