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Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said he remains optimistic that tight end Brandon Warren will be ruled eligible to play this season by the SEC even as the decision stretches another week.
“It should be any day now,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton echoed coach Phillip Fulmer’s statements on Saturday that the SEC has been more focused on starting its own television network.
UT submitted a 190-page document for Warren’s appeal when the former Alcoa High School star enrolled at UT in June.
Warren also needs to win an appeal with the NCAA to become eligible and receive financial aid.
Warren left Florida State in February 2007 to be closer to his mother, who has battled health issues since having cancer in 2005. Warren has taken classes at Pellissippi State Technical Community College in order to be eligible.
Warren said he believes the decision should be a no-brainer and remains optimistic despite the delay.
“When the paperwork and documents are all in hand,” Warren said, “there should be no question.”
Following practice on Sunday, it was clear Fulmer has grown tired of the delays.
“Don’t ask about Brandon Warren,” he said. “I’ll let you guys know. When I hear something, you’ll be the first to know. Probably be painted on the side of that building right there.”
On the field, Warren might like UT’s playbook painted on the side of the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex as he tries to learn two positions: tight end and H-back.
“My brain has been scrambled a little bit,” Warren said.
Despite his freshman All-American season at Florida State, Warren said he’s never seen anything like first-year offensive coordinator Dave Clawson’s offense.
“This is way more complex,” Warren said. “We do a lot of audibling and a lot of checks and stuff.
“At Florida State, it kind of was straight forward, one played called in the huddle and go to the line and run it.
Tight end coach Jason Michael has noticed Warren’s struggles. Michael saw UT’s other tight ends deal with the same learning process in spring practice.
“His head is spinning a little bit,” Michael said. “That’s going too happen. From an athletic perspective, he’s done a good job and moves around well out there.”
Practice Report: The first preseason practice had a rather auspicious beginning. UT’s tight ends had more than their fair share of dropped passes, led by Luke Stocker, who dropped the day’s first pass.
“It was only one drill,” the sophomore said. “After that we were snagging everything. We were snagging everything today, too. It’s not a problem.”
Injury Report: Tight end Jeff Cottam said his leg felt better, a day after his first full effort practice since suffering a fracture in spring practice.
“I feel good,” the junior said. “It was a lot less sore today.”
Gerald’s Game: Junior college transfer Gerald Williams will begin practice at linebacker but expects to see some time at defensive end early in preseason camp.
“I’m playing linebacker here,” the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder said. “Probably third downs, they might end up using me like they did (former Vol) Jerod Mayo (at defensive end).”
The Vols used the same linebacker/defensive end approach with Leonard Little.
Williams said soon after arriving on campus he gave UT’s coaches a glowing recommendation of defensive tackle Edwin Herbert, who played at City College of San Francisco with Williams. Herbert committed to UT on July 26.
“He’s a beast,” Williams said of Herbert. “He’s a good guy. He’s a hard-working guy and I think he’ll make us a better team when he gets here next year.”
More Berrys: Sophomore safety Eric Berry says his younger brothers are even more athletic than he is.
The 12-year-old fraternal twins, Elliott and Evan, are competing in a national AAU track meet in Detroit this weekend, Eric said.
“Elliott is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 200,” Eric said. “Elliott is about 5-10 (140 pounds) and Evan is about 5-6 or 5-7.
“A lot of people think Elliott and I are the twins, and Evan is just our little brother.”
Eric has each of the twin’s names tattooed on his arms.
No Mercy: Berry said this year’s off-season conditioning program under coach Johnny Long was more grueling than ever but he expects to reap the benefits this fall.
“He had no mercy on us,” Berry said. “I feel like I could run through one of those glass windows and not even feel it.”
Although Berry is listed at 195 pounds in UT’s 2008 media guide, he said he weighs 210.
Visitor: UT commitment Josh Nunes has been in East Tennessee all weekend. The quarterback from Upland (Calif.) High School, who committed last month, is taking his first visit to UT.
John Adams contributed to this report.