Tag Archives: Josh Malone

Vols bounce back to practice with fast tempo, big hits (video, photos, .gifs)

Running backs Marlin Lane (left) and Devrin Young (photo by Evan Woodbery).

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee senior running back Marlin Lane was back at practice on Tuesday after using the spring break to rest his injured left wrist.

Coach Butch Jones said Lane would still be limited in the remaining spring sessions, but his presence alone was a positive sign.

Jones also plenty of good things to say about freshman receiver Josh Malone, who made some big plays in Tuesday’s practice.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Jones said. “You can see the speed, burst and acceleration that we saw on film when we recruited him.”

Full coverage from Tuesday is available for subscribers on GoVolsXtra. Check out six minutes of practice highlights below and some photos after the jump… 

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Tennessee spring football Saturday roundup (photos, video, .gifs)

Butch Jones at practice on Saturday (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones started his tenure last spring with several practices forced indoors by chilly weather.

So perhaps the two brilliant days on Friday and Saturday are a good omen for his second season.

Jones didn’t talk to reporters on Saturday, as he handled Junior Day duties. But we did have interesting interviews with Corey Vereen, Marquez North, Cameron Sutton and others.

You can read all our coverage on GoVolsXtra, although some content is for subscribers only.

You’ll want to check out at least the beginning of today’s practice video for some solid one-on-one footage.

Here’s some of what I wrote about Sutton, who has been victimized by the Von Pearson show so far in spring camp:

Tennessee sophomore cornerback Cameron Sutton made some nice stops during drills on Saturday morning, but he’s having hard time forgetting one play on which he was burned badly Friday night.

In that play, junior college newcomer Von Pearson caught a pass near the sidelines, juked left and then turned upfield, all but buckling the knees of Sutton, normally one of the Vols’ fastest and most reliable defensive backs.

Why can’t Sutton forget it?

Because it’s playing on a loop over and over again in the Tennessee football football facility as part of the daily practice highlights.

“He’s shifty,” Sutton said of Pearson.

When Jones said the 14 early-enrolled newcomers would elevate the level of competition in spring camp, this is what he had in mind.

Not only will players like Pearson and highly rated freshman receiver Josh Malone create new competition at receiver, they’ll also be providing tougher daily tests for the secondary.

I also wrote about Vereen, who lived up to Butch Jones’ billing as a serious and studious worker. Here’s a snippet from his interview, and a little bit of Marlin Lane.

Offensive graduate assistant Nick Sheridan on Saturday (photo by Evan Woodbery)

The Vols didn’t have much coaching staff turnover during the offseason, but they did welcome a new offensive graduate assistant in Nick Sheridan, who will work a lot with the quarterbacks.

Sheridan is a former Michigan quarterback who last worked at South Florida.

Check out more photos and .gifs after the jump. Or click here for a link to the full gallery.

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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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After new ratings, Josh Malone moves to top of Tennessee’s 2014 class

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Running back Jalen Hurd has been the highest ranked player in Tennessee’s 2014 class since he verbally committed to the Vols last March.

But a small tweak in the ratings has moved another in-state offensive star ahead of him. Receiver Josh Malone now has a 0.9818 rating in the 247Sports Composite, which combines the rankings of all major recruiting services into one poll. That’s just ahead of Hurd’s 0.9793 rating.

Hurd is no longer a consensus five-star player. He just misses the cutoff, ranked the 36th best player in the country according to the Composite index.

With recruiting in the home stretch, there are likely to be few if any changes between now and National Signing Day. Of the Vols’ 34 commitments, there are 15 four-star players and 19 three-star prospects.

In the newest update, in-state lineman Charles Mosley jumped up a couple of spots to 14th in UT’s class with an 0.8948 rating. Linebacker Kevin Mouhon moved down a tad and is now just below the four-star cutoff in the Composite. Cory Thomas moved ahead of two future teammates and is now the 23rd-rated prospect in the class.

Here’s the full list of UT verbal commitments.

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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.

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WR Josh Malone chooses Tennessee

Josh Malone makes his decision on NBC Sports Network.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Elite receiver prospect Josh Malone ended a fierce recruitment by verbally committing to play for Tennessee in a ceremony at his high school on Wednesday.

“Finally, after several family discussions and hours of prayer, I have decided to play football for the University of Tennessee,” Malone. “I felt like I had a better opportunity there. I put no emotion in it. Distance wasn’t a factor.”

Malone selected the Vols over Clemson and Georgia. He had signed aid agreements with all three schools, allowing coaches unlimited contact in the final days before his decision.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff had several lengthy in-home visits with Malone, a high four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite ratings.

“Josh is a very, very talented young man who has a bright future ahead of him. He’s a complete football player,” Jones said.

(Coaches are allowed to comment about players who have signed aid agreements).

Malone, of Station Camp High in Gallatin, plans to enroll in January and participate in spring practice. He’ll be expected to contribute immediately in the Vols’ rebuilding receiving corps.

“I feel like the opportunity to come in early was better at Tennessee,” Malone said. “I talk to the coaches all the time about the quarterback situation, and I feel comfortable with that.”

The Vols now have 33 verbal commitments. Jones has said he would like to have 14 early enrollees in January.

Malone is the second highest-rated player in the Vols’ class of 2014, according to the 247Sports Composite.

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The Vols still wouldn’t mind adding a defensive tackle or offensive lineman (perhaps of the junior college variety), but most of their needs have been met. Even the weaknesses might not be so great, as some of the bigger ends could shift inside to tackle.

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Josh Malone’s decision is 24 hours away: Will it be Tennessee, Clemson or Georgia?

Josh Malone (photo by 247Sports)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Elite receiver prospect Josh Malone will make his college decision on Wednesday at 1 p.m. noon at his high school in Gallatin.

Some say the race is a dead heat between Tennessee, Clemson and Georgia. Others give Tennessee the edge. (That’s the opinion of the 247Sports Crystal Ball.) Some think Clemson has made a late push. A recent article ($) in which Malone referred to Tennessee’s offense as a “work in progress” and Clemson’s as an “established system.”

Malone has signed financial aid agreements with all three schools, allowing the coaches to have unlimited contact with him in the days leading up to his decision. (The aid agreements also allow coaches to comment publicly about him and how great he is).

Tennessee and its coaching staff have all but camped out at Gallatin over the last few weeks. If they don’t get Malone, it won’t be due to lack of effort. I’ve heard that Butch Jones and his coaching staff have spent more time on Malone than any other player, ever.

Why is Malone important? Coaches hope he can be Marquez North, version 2.0. That is, an instant-impact receiver who elevates the speed, talent and depth of Tennessee’s struggling receiving corps.

Malone is a five-star prospect on Rivals. He falls just short of five-star status on the 247Composite ratings, which use input from all major recruiting services.

What do you think? Vote below. The polls close at noon on Wednesday.

A look at Tennessee recruiting at midpoint of 2013 season

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The recruiting class committed in August is rarely the same one that signs in February, and the defection of a prospect this week is the first sign of it.

The Vols seem to have lost junior college receiver Eric Lauderdale, a Georgia native now playing juco ball in California.

Lauderdale had just picked up an offer from Florida and is intrigued by the prospect of being a Gator. Tennessee has four committed receivers in its 2014 signing class and is likely to add at least one more, so Lauderdale’s departure won’t hurt from a numbers standpoint. Whether the Vols miss his future production won’t known for years, as is often the case in recruiting.

The Vols are coming off a big recruiting weekend, are at the midpoint of the 2013 season and finally get a break on Saturday. So it’s a good time to review the Vols’ 2014 recruiting outlook.

Who’s in the fold: The Vols have 24 verbal commitments. They can sign 29 — I think — by “back-counting” some early enrollees.

Running back Jalen Hurd is the prize of the class and the only consensus five-star, although safety Todd Kelly and linebacker Dillon Bates are very close to that designation.

See the sheet above for the full list of commitments.

Where are they from? Interestingly, the geographic midpoint of the 2014 class sits in Ten Mile, Tenn., only about 45 miles southwest of Neyland Stadium. So the geographic diversity of the class is spread fairly evenly.

Five of the commitments are from Tennessee; five are from Georgia; Texas, Florida, Ohio and Maryland have two each.

What do they play? In keeping with Butch Jones’ goal of increasing the team’s overall speed, many of the prospects fall into the “athlete” category, so there’s some flexibility in their college position.

Using our best guess, there are five linebackers, five defensive backs and four receivers, two running backs, two tight ends, three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen. And a kicker.

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What do the Vols still need? To answer this question, I broke the usual “roster needs” chart into deeper categories. The “goal” in the first column is flexible and not meant to be set in stone. But it provides a good ballpark estimate.

This chart also includes a “new column” for non-contributors. This is for players who, because of injuries or other reasons, seem unlikely to break into the playing rotation in the future.

The chart shows only one pressing need left for the Vols’ 2014 class — defensive tackle. UT might also like to snag another offensive lineman.

So who’s still on the board? Lots of players. Even though there are officially only five spots left in the class, plenty can change in four months. Here are a few names to watch:

Four-star defensive tackle Charles Mosely of Brighton visited Knoxville this weekend and would be an important addition to the class.

Another in-state prospect, Josh Malone of Gallatin, is an elite receiver prospect. He visited Knoxville this weekend, too.

Twins Evan and Elliott Berry — would provide a boost in the secondary.