The blog has been largely neglected in recent weeks with much more focus put into stories that went into the main site. But we’re ending (at least briefly) that neglect with a few links here to stuff we found interesting today that might not make the cut for the paper.
Tennessee senior offensive tackle Jacob Gilliam was named to the Associated Press All-Bowl team for his performance in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Gilliam was playing in the game with a torn left ACL and a busted left hand, but of course, the Vols rolled Iowa 45-28 and scored touchdowns on their first possessions to get the route rolling quickly.
Josh Smith, who suffered a high ankle sprain at Oklahoma on Sept. 13 and never returned to the field posted on his Twitter account that his recovery is beginning.
Smith had a strong performance in that Oklahoma game, catching five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. The receiving corps got hit hard by injuries all year, but if Smith and fellows sophomores Marquez North and Jason Croom return healthy for 2015, the group can be very deep.
Our partners at 247Sports.com had a couple of scoops today. It wasn’t a huge surprise, but linebacker/defensive end Curt Maggitt is returning for his fifth year. Maggitt had 11 sacks this season, finishing among the SEC’s leaders in the category and earning second-team All-SEC honors in the process. Maggitt was essentially Tennessee’s defensive captain after A.J. Johnson was suspended and he’ll spend the whole season in that role next year. He’ll also have a year under his belt as a true hybrid player and won’t need the adjustment period he needed to the defensive end spot last year.
Also, as you saw, the Vols added Sheriron Jones, a four-star quarterback from California and a former Florida commit, to the 2015 signing class. This gives the Vols three quarterbacks in the 2015 with Quinten Dormady and Jauan Jennings having already enrolled for the spring semester. It’s a move that has a chance to be fascinating going forward. Jennings played safety in high school and he could certainly be moved, but considering how much better the offense became this season when senior Justin Worley’s season-ending injury forced them to replace a pocket passer with a dual-threat quarterback, it would seem short-sighted to remove a player with Jennings’ athleticism from the quarterback discussion. So all three will probably get a shot, though most likely, someone will end up displeased with the long-term result.
There will also be an effect on backup Nathan Peterman who, remarkably, graduated in December just 2 1/2 years after his high school class graduated. Peterman’s name was not found in the student directory on Wednesday when classes began, sparking rumors that he had offered to take the graduate student exemption and transfer, but he is taking grad school classes at UT according to an athletic department spokesman. He could change his mind about Tennessee between now and the summer and could transfer without the penalty of sitting out a year, or he could also stick around to be Joshua Dobbs’s backup and mentor the younger players. He could be beaten out by the freshmen, but he will be the only quarterback other than Dobbs with playing experience at Tennessee and could at least hold on to the backup role.
Also as you’ve seen, Jordan Williams, Justin Coleman and Marlin Lane all have spots in all-star games in the next two weeks. It’s unlikely that any of them will be drafted, but all could find free agent contracts and training camp opportunities.