Tailback Montario Hardesty has rushed for 1,046 yards in his Tennessee career.
That's almost 1,000 more than all of Tennessee's other prospects for the 2008 season combined.
Sophomore Tauren Poole has 86 rushing yards while 2009 signees Toney Williams, Bryce Brown and David Oku have yet to play in a college football game.
Yet, it's Hardesty who so many fans believe will eventually find the bench.
"Fans are fans," the senior said after Friday's scrimmage. "Fans are always excited about new things happening and new things coming in. I just want to let my play on the field speak for itself."
Hardesty's play is speaking volumes. His approach to spring practice screams of his maturity.
"I think he's really one of the leaders of our team," first-year coach Lane Kiffin said. "I haven't talked about leadership much because it will take awhile. (But) he does everything we ask. He comes out here every single day with the same attitude.
"He loves playing ball. He studies, keeps his mouth shut and goes to work."
The leg injuries that plagued Hardesty's career appear to be a thing of the past as the North Carolinian looks as quick and as fast as ever.
"I feel good," said Hardesty, who rushed eight times for 38 yards during Friday's scrimmage. "Just trying to make some plays."
Hardesty is as confident as he's ever been. Sitting behind departed senior Arian Foster was never easy.
Now Hardesty is the veteran trying to lead his teammates.
"I just try to go out there and just go hard every day," Hardesty said. "I want to set an example for the younger guys. I think that's why Tauren Poole is coming on strong."
Onlookers won't see much more of Hardesty this spring. He's proved his worth to a coaching staff with sky-high standards.
"I'm not concerned with how physical he is because I know he can run the ball physical," Kiffin said. "He's showed us that. He doesn't need a million carries.
"He looked quick today. I think you're seeing some of that because he's not getting banged up as much."
Kiffin's final goal for Hardesty this spring is to get the 6-foot, 212-pounder more involved in UT's passing game. Hardesty welcomes the challenge.
"I always feel like if you give me the ball in space, I'll make things happen," said Hardesty, who had two receptions for 22 yards Friday.
Making things happen for his team is Hardesty's primary goal. Sure, he'd like to be the starter and rush for a ton of yards, but that's not the goal Hardesty has in sight.
"All the other stuff could be thrown to the back burner as long as we go to the SEC championship game," he said.
Injury Report: Kiffin said senior defensive lineman Wes Brown's knee injury likely will keep him out of the remainder of spring drills and could require surgery.
The injury is thought to be the same lingering ligament ailment that hampered Brown's production last season.
Tight end Jeff Cottam did not practice. The senior is suffering from a concussion and is "day-to-day" according to Kiffin.
Receiver Gerald Jones had an ice wrap on his right hand after practice. The junior said he injured the hand about two weeks ago.
"I thought I jammed it but it's probably a little more than a jam," Jones said. "I don't like going to the training room."
Jones said no fracture was found during an X-ray. The ailment could have contributed to some recent, uncharacteristic dropped passes by Jones.
Visitors: UT played host todefensive end commitment Jacques Smith from Ooltewah High School and offensive tackle Marcus Stone from Maplewood High School in Nashville.