Tag Archives: Daniel Hood

Tennessee football position preview: Defensive line will be deep, but very inexperienced

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

Jordan Williams will be the most experienced returning player on the defensive line (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee is losing six seniors who accounted for roughly 70 percent of the team’s snaps on its defensive line.

Some of the team’s most visible leaders are included among that group.

But while the outlook for 2014 is challenging, it’s not entirely hopeless. A large crop of newcomers will be pushed to compete for playing time immediately. Just as important, a group of inexperienced returning players will be asked to seize a fresh opportunity for playing time.

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Among the departing players, Daniel Hood and Daniel McCullers might be among the most difficult to immediately replace. Big tackles usually don’t just arrive on campus. They are grown and develop over time. 

Jacques Smith, Corey Miller and Marlon Walls also capped their careers with solid senior seasons in 2013.

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Tennessee football practice report: Butch Jones invites coaches to join in competition (photos)

Butch Jones directs Daniel Hood (97) to place a ladder near the end zone for a practice drill. Jones had several players race each other at the Nov. 20, 2013, practice. (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones added a new twist to the ladder runs that are a staple of his practices on Wednesday evening.

He called for competitions between prominent players and even got coaches into the act. Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen raced quality control assistant Terry Fair (and lost). Special teams coordinator Mark Elder started stretching out of concern that he might be next. With one coach already on the shelf due to injury, you can’t be too careful.

More practice photos are below. Watch in your highest HD setting for best results.

Tennessee recruiting: Vols have needs but also flexibility on defensive line

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Butch Jones watches practice last week (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s aggressive recruiting efforts show no signs of slowing, even as the Vols push past the 30-man limit in their class.

Cory Thomas was the latest player to verbally commit to the 2014 class.

Here’s a look at Tennessee’s class within the context of its current roster. Be sure to check out the disclaimer and details below.

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I’ve tweaked the breakdown above, adding a section for roster non-contributors. These are players who are in at least their second year in the program and have not contributed and don’t appear close to contributing right now. I didn’t want to single anyone out, but in order to provide a clear picture of the recruiting efforts, those numbers needed to be considered.

The usual caveat applies: This is a speculative exercise and may not match UT’s goals, strategy, etc.

The only major issue remains at defensive tackle, but that’s somewhat misleading, as many defensive tackles start their career at end.

Daniel McCullers (facing camera) chats with Trevarris Saulsberry before the Auburn game.

Even so, with Daniel McCullers and Daniel Hood graduating, the Vols would love to have more depth inside — both on the current roster, and in the 2014 class.

Who could grow into a defensive tackle? Anyone, really, including several options on the current roster. But if you’re looking for a big run-stuffer in the mold of McCullers, the options are more limited.

Dimarya Mixon (6-3, 265) is the only player listed as a tackle among the current group of commitments.

DaVonte Lambert (listed at 6-3, 275), Derek Barnett (6-3, 265), Thomas (6-6, 270) and DeWayne Hendrix (6-5 254) are all big ends, while Joe Henderson (6-3, 228) is in the lighter, weak-side mold.

Obviously, all heights and weights should be taken with a grain of salt, but compare those numbers to Hood (6-4, 277), McCullers (6-8, 351) and reserve tackle Trevarris Saulsberry (6-4, 291). Except for McCullers, the differences aren’t immense.

Marlon Walls (6-2, 272) is mainly an end now, although he’s played tackle before and frequently will move inside on passing downs when speed rushers come in.

Vols freshman tackle Jason Carr (6-5, 285) played briefly this year but will have a chance to earn more playing time in 2014.

Long story short, will defensive tackle be a concern in 2014? Probably. A crisis? Perhaps not.

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 #PracticeGram: Vols prepare for 2-scrimmage day

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee football team will have its first two-a-day session on Saturday, later than most of its SEC peers.

The academic calendar at UT pushes the summer session well into camp, which makes two-a-days almost impossible until classes and exams wrap up.

Butch Jones and the Vols will make the most of their opportunities on Saturday, going with a special teams scrimmage in the morning session and a situational scrimmage at Neyland Stadium in the evening. Read all about it here.  We’ll have full coverage on the blog and GoVolsXtra.

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Tennessee football practice: Vols back on practice field, as Butch Jones preaches defense

Mark Elder, Woody Quinn

Tight ends coach Mark Elder talks to tight end Woody Quinn during practice at Haslam Field on Aug. 9, 2013, in Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones challenged the defensive line on Friday after early-practice struggles during team work.

When the offense plowed into the end zone on a running play, Jones bellowed, “We can run all day! Soft!”

Later, he challenged nose tackle Daniel Hood to exhort his teammates and insisted the unit raise their fists after a third-down stop.

“We’re going to stop the run around here,” Jones said.

We’ll have some more later tonight and Saturday morning after post-practice interviews.

* We saw some punting on Friday. As expected, Michael Palardy worked with the ones, while Matt Darr worked with the second group. They called out the “get-off time” for each punt, which the Internet says should be about 2 to 2.1 seconds. I heard UT’s time range from 1.98 to 2.01 seconds. My sense is that Palardy is well ahead in this race.

* First-team quarterback Justin Worley had a scheduled non-throwing day, going through the motions but resting his arm. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman took reps with the first team, while freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson worked with second and third teams.

* Jacques Smith sported a hard-cast from hand to elbow, protecting his surgically repaired right thumb. The Vols’ senior defensive end still donned a jersey, working the sidelines as a cheerleader. Jones is expected to address the injury to Corey Vereen after practice today.

* Running back Tom Smith, linebacker Curt Maggitt, tight end Justin King and strong safety Byron Moore all wore green non-contact jerseys. Receiver Paul Harris and tight end Alex Ellis worked on the sidelines.

* Media heard a new addition to the motivational stylings of Butch Jones. Following 11-on-11 action, the UT coach uncorked this one: “Taking someone’s soul – that’s how you play football!”

* A few walk-on roster moves: Longtime walk-on fullback Austin Bolen of Farragut has moved on. New additions are quarterback Tyler Page and defensive back Tyler Coombes. Both were with the unit in the spring and had planned to join the team when rosters expand in two weeks. Instead, they’re here now.

Reporter Brendan F. Quinn contributed to this blog.

Tennessee football: Naz Oliver’s departure leaves Vols with 3 members of 2009 class

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee confirmed the departure of senior defensive back Naz Oliver Wednesday night, although it was lost amid a flurry of significant injury news.

Naz Oliver (UT photo)

Naz Oliver (UT photo)

If nothing else, Oliver was a survivor. It’s tough to last to a fifth year in the SEC, and even tougher when you are beset by injuries and hardly play at all.

Oliver will graduate and leave UT with a degree, coach Butch Jones said. He thus could be eligible to play immediately at another school, and Jones said UT wants to help him find an opportunity if he chooses to pursue a final season.

Oliver’s departure leaves UT with three remaining signees from the Class of 2009, the only class signed by former coach Lane Kiffin. They are: defensive linemen Marlon Walls and Daniel Hood and linebacker Greg King. Tight end Joseph Ayres, a former walk-on, is also a fifth-year player.

Oliver’s departure leaves the Vols with an estimated 82 players on scholarship, including at least four former walk-ons who we think are currently receiving athletic aid. When the new semester starts in two weeks, coaches could hand out additional scholarships to walk-ons should they choose to do so. The NCAA maximum is 85.

So what does Tennessee’s scholarship roster look like now? For one thing, it no longer has a New Jersey representative. Oliver was the lone Garden State native.

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Tennessee football 2013 spring preview: Defensive line


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 line will have a different look as the Vols transition back to the 4-3, but there are plenty of veterans in this group and it should be drastically improved from 2012. Coaches will be able to experiment with personnel this spring, particularly to see if any linebackers from 2012 are better fits as ends in 2013.

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