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Observations from Tennessee football spring practice #1

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Here are some of my observations and opinions from Tennessee football spring practice #1 (Friday, March 07, 2014). Keep in mind, we only had a few periods after stretching. They practiced a lot more with the gates closed and no media around.

I’ll be posting post-practice blogs and interviews on this page throughout spring practice, so please share and tell your friends and co-workers.

Practice 1
A number of the freshmen and newcomers looked every bit as fast and athletic as they were billed to be. Jalen Hurd is huge for a running back. He’s so tall at 6’4. Hurd standing next to 5’8-ish Devrin Young in their position group was quite the site. Josh Malone is even bigger and taller than I expected. He looks SEC-ready physically.

Some returning players like QB - Joshua Dobbs, TE - Woody Quinn and others looked bigger and stronger. Quite a few are showing the benefits of a full year with the current strength and conditioning program, along with the resources available with the incredible training facilities at the University of Tennessee.

LB - Curt Maggitt looked good going through warmups and a few drills. I'll key on him more in upcoming practices.

DB - Emmanuel Moseley jumped out to me. He was fast and explosive out of cuts in kickoff returns. He also turned on the jets to track down an intentional overthrow in a ball skills drill. He tracked the ball full-speed and made a sweet hands-catch over his shoulder to full extension. He stayed on his feet as well, which coaches like to see.

WR - Von Pearson looked good high-pointing passes and changing direction on a dime. He, like many of the newcomers, was very engaged and focused. Butch Jones mentioned Thursday that the new guys have worked hard and have been coachable. That was evident to me during practice 1.

Here is how the offense lined-up in a team drill. Truthfully, these really don’t mean much right now in the spring. I’m sure all first units and second units changed even within today’s practice. I know its fun to look at though, so here’s what we saw.

1st Group Offense
QB – Justin Worley
RB – Marlin Lane
WR – Marquez North
WR – Jason Croom
WR – Von Pearson (some slot)
WR – Johnathon Johnson (some slot)
LT – Dontavius Blair
LG – Marcus Jackson
C – Mack Crowder
RG – Kyler Kerbyson
RT – Coleman Thomas

The second unit had more guys in and out, so rather than list everybody in and out in various sets; I’ll just list the offensive line and a few notables.

Some of the 2nd Group Offense
QB – Josh Dobbs
RB – Jalen Hurd
WR – Josh Malone
LT – Jacob Gilliam
LG – Austin Sanders
C – Ray Raulerson
RG – Dylan Wiesman
RT – Marques Pair & Brett Kendrick

Here are the players that practiced returning kicks during our viewing period, in jersey numerical order.

Kickoff Returns
Jalen Hurd
D’Andre Payne
Marquez North
Emmanuel Moseley
Devaun Swofford
Devrin Young
Malik Foreman
Justus Pickett
JaRon Toney

Punt Returns
Josh Malone
Von Pearson
Marlin Lane
Devrin Young
Riyahd Jones
Cameron Sutton
Johnathon Johnson
Jacob Carter

We’ll have more next week on the News Sentinel Sports Page, weekdays 10am - Noon on The Sports Animal!

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