Sawtelle can handle criticism

Fulmer says backups at offensive line 'still soft'

Darris Sawtelle knew something was amiss when he first saw his teammates early Wednesday morning.

"You knew something hit the fan," the Tennessee redshirt freshman said Thursday.

Sawtelle hadn't read the News Sentinel that morning but the other Vols had and they weren't pleased.

Coach Phillip Fulmer called UT's second-string offensive linemen "soft". Fulmer's ire was mostly directed at Sawtelle, Cody Pope and Ramon Johnson.

Motivation by media or not, some players were upset. Not Sawtelle.

"I appreciate it actually," he said of such criticism.

As strange as that may seem, remember that Sawtelle is now at least being coached - not just the self-described All-American blocking bag holder he was a year ago. Sawtelle will take all that Fulmer can dish out.

"He may say some mean things that you don't like but you have to take in stride," Sawtelle said. "The only thing you can do is take it as constructive criticism and prove him wrong. I think that's what he wants. To be proven wrong."

Sawtelle said UT's second-string offensive linemen met this week to re-focus on improving as a group, instead of just striving for playing time. The message was received.

Offensive line coach Greg Adkins has seen a positive response.

"They know it's all for the betterment of them and the betterment of the team," Adkins said of the public criticism. "Most of those guys got better from it."

That doesn't mean Adkins is ready to declare his offensive line a finished project. He shares concerns with Fulmer about his second stringers. He's also a bit worried about his starters, who are still learning a new offense.

"I think we're doing a little bit too much thinking instead of just playing the game right now," Adkins said.

As for Fulmer, he's seen some recent improvement with his backups but ultimately declared, "Still soft."

Cottam Fractures Fibula: Tight end Jeff Cottam suffered a right leg fibula fracture during practice. The junior will miss the remainder of spring drills but is expected to make a full recovery by fall.

The projected starter is slated to replace departed seniors Chris Brown and Brad Cottam, Jeff's brother.

Major Matchup: UT and Ohio State have agreed to a two-year series. The Vols will host the opener on Sept. 1, 2018 at Neyland Stadium, with the return match set for Sept. 7, 2019 at Ohio Stadium.

"We're looking forward to a series with another one of college football's storied programs," athletic director Mike Hamilton said in a release. "I know our fans will enjoy going to the Horseshoe (Ohio Stadium) as much as their fans will enjoy coming to Neyland Stadium."

Quipped Fulmer, "I'll be right here waiting on them."

The Vols and Buckeyes have met only once previously, a 20-14 UT win in the 1996 Florida Citrus Bowl. UT has never hosted a Big Ten Conference opponent.

Practice Report: UT held a 35-play scrimmage as part of their 2 1/2-hour workout. Despite a turnover, Fulmer said he was pleased with junior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, the heir apparent to departed senior Erik Ainge.

"Jon has the upper hand and has certainly done nothing so far than pull himself further to the forefront," said Fulmer, who also complimented the play of quarterbacks B.J. Coleman and Nick Stephens.

Fulmer cited a run by sophomore tailback Lennon Creer as one of Thursday's top performances.

More Orange: Fulmer said redshirt freshman Josh Hawkins will be moved to linebacker once he recovers from a foot injury. The former Loudon High School star began his UT career at tailback. … Receiver coach Latrell Scott said junior Quinton Hancock has been the "go-to" receiver this spring. Scott said he's also been impressed with sophomore Gerald Jones.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 19

smashmouth98 writes:

I guess now it's football time in Tennessee!

DenmarkVol_aka_Mbumburu writes:

Good news about Hancock and G. Jones.

bigorangesob writes:

Still no Kenny O'Neil sighting huh?

NJVol writes:

Hancock was all the rage last Spring as well. Lets hope he makes a name for himself in the Fall.

seaplane#216536 writes:

Anyone heard about that Warren kid from Alcoa? He's the transfer from FSU that's suppose to be a top notch tight end.

Volchaz writes:

Let the football banter officially begin, Bring on the Spring Game, boys....

cmoore7 writes:

Somebody get the Cottam's some milk. They could open a prosthetic brace & crutches outlet with as many bones as they have broken. I wonder how their teeth are.

FlushTheJohn writes:

Anyone who has ever played football at even the High School level knows that all good football coaches yell and scream and tell you what a worthless piece of phooey you are all of the time. It's kind of like boot camp, especially in the spring and August. You have to be mentally strong to play this game. If you can't take a little public criticism, then you are not tough enough to play this game. This isn't kindergarten and you don't just pat these guys on the back. Fulmer want's to piss them off so maybe they will grow some "sack" and get after somebody.

Football is a Man's game, so grow up boys!

Go Vols!

John Adams, please jump off of a bridge (a very high one) !!!!!!

RockyTop1_old writes:

The Bridge would need to be memoralized as a true VOL fan...think not! Adams another attempt to bring contempt....GO VOLS!!

BOASoldier writes:

Adams why did you take a bite of that stupid apple... or were you the serpant in the tree?

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Coach will judge wheh it's time to 'turn on the light' for these boys. Most coaches will know when it's time to quit fussing and start showing confidence. For each player, that time is different.

Most of these young linemen are here because they know UT puts players in the pros, especially linemen. It's funny how that works: Scott Wells, a 'nromal' lineman, plays in the NFL, while Munoz had what he considered no chance.

Scott was tough as a cement truck, Munoz was a big, smart guy with injuries, and while he had a nice college career, he knew he didn't have the quicks for pro ball.

My rambling, unclear point? If you are a lineman at ut, listen to the coach, because you might be sruprised at where it can take you. You don't have to be the most heralded recruit to earn a pro career.

volchiq writes:

sjt - I figure it was more of a surprise to them that they were being called out publicly. I am sure that they were aware that CPF wasn't happy with them, but you never like to see it announced to everyone. I am sure they thought he would never name their names for print, after all, that is mean and might hurt a fragile ego. ;)

thesavageorange writes:

Hubbs said it was interesting to watch the offense.He said they lined up in multiple formations including the 1 back,power I, and even the split back pro set.He also mentioned that Creer had more than 1 nice run.

Just a few side notes:Xavier Nixon of (NC), a 6'6 275lb 4* OL, was on campus Thursday to check things out.Also John Martinez of (UT)6'4 265lb 4* OL, and Xavier Su’a Filo also of (UT)6'4 270 4* OL,have been offered by the Vols.Su'a Filo and Martinez know each other (different HS's), and both also know JT Mapu and his family.They are saying Mapu is helping us out w/ these 2.Thanks JP!

Clawson must be comfortable w/ adjusting to his players by watching the QB's he's courting.He is recruiting a couple classic drop back passers, but of the other 4-5 ,I noticed they all run atleast a 4.7 40, and are all 6'3 to 6'4.(ala JC)
The only other one outside that mold is his latest offer, Tate Forcier out of San Diego.He's only 6'1, but runs a 4.5...

raynochonspeed#212632 writes:

Posted by BOASoldier on March 28, 2008 at 2:31 p.m.: Adams why did you take a bite of that stupid apple... or were you the serpant in the tree?

BOASoldier: "serpant"?? At least Adams probably has a college degree.

VOLinDAWGland writes:

Good stuff savage...thanks!

CoverOrange writes:

mparker, the one that surprised me was Anthony Herrera making it in the pros. Speaking of lacking in quickness, he got end run so many times.

I wonder if I can make reservations now for tickets in Columbus in 11 years. Probably not.

LiveFaith writes:

I hope Fulmer is around in a decade. As coach or in the ''front office'' it means 10 years of stability, which translated meanai winning. Not a lot of SEC football programs that I would choose over the Vols since 92'. After living through the mid-70's until the mid-80's, it's much easier to tolerate a slump from a proven winner. The right players here or there plus a little ''luck'' and CPF can easily be hoisting another NC trophy.

I often wonder what would have transpired from 2003-2006 had Chris Leak kept his commitment to UT. It usually comes down to a few key playmakers and chemistry to go undefeated.

CPF can easily do it again, so I'm hoping he's around with another trophy or 2.

Bigger_Al writes:

I'm surprised Adams hasn't called for Fulmer's head for having the gall to call players soft. Fulmer, Spurrier, and Paterno all do that, and all of them have players that get in trouble sometimes. That messes with their inner child.


DadwasaVol writes:

Hey guys, this article was written by Hooker, not Adams.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.