Competition doesn't scare UT freshmen

Oku-Brown, Richardson-Teague ready to play

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Talent comes in twos at Tennessee.

Competition is ongoing between two pairs of former highly rated prospects at two key positions as the Vols prepare for their second week of preseason camp.

At tailback, there’s Bryce Brown and David Oku. At receiver, there’s Nu’Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague.

Oku lived vicariously from the sideline through Brown on Thursday, when Brown took at least three hard hits and suffered a slight concussion.

“I think I did a prayer real quick and crossed my chest,” Oku joked Sunday at UT’s media day when asked about the hits. “I was like ‘Oh, my gosh.’ That’s college football for you. It was crazy. I was just like ‘Please don’t let me get hurt.’ ”

Oku and Brown shared a similar experience in recruiting. Both were considered two of the elite prospects in the nation. Both announced their decision long after National Signing Day.

Brown was rated the No. 1 prospect in the country. Yet he said that status didn’t make him any more of a target to UT’s returning defenders.

“Once you step foot on this campus, all that stuff in the past doesn’t matter,” Brown said.

Perhaps. Brown, however, knew he would be tested when the Vols donned shoulder pads.

“Before I got here, the guys said they were going to see how tough I am,” Brown said. “I told them I expect that. That’s what I want. I can’t go into the game without going all out.”

Oku smiled when asked to compare himself to Brown.

The 5-foot-10, 184-pound Oku said he’s a bit quicker and has better vision, which allows him to avoid those big hits. Brown, who is 6-foot and 215 pounds, has more power but Oku isn’t afraid to run over a defender — if he has to.

“I can probably lower the shoulder but you won’t catch me doing it that much,” Oku said. “He (Brown) can do it all the time.”

Oku admitted that he was surprised to find out that Brown is the faster tailback despite the size difference.

“That dude can move, man,” Oku said. “But I can change direction quicker than he can. I got him there.”

Oku said he and Brown learned that they need to limit the freestyle aspects of their game. A juke and a spin move (which Brown was fond of until his tough Thursday) just slows them down and allows defenders to tee off.

With a week’s worth of preseason practice behind them, both are ready to continue their battle for playing time.

“If you don’t like competition, you shouldn’t be playing football,” Oku said. “Competition makes you get better as a player when you don’t even know it.”

As for Richardson and Teague, they’re tougher to compare, partly because they’re so similar.

“We’re both small,” Teague joked.

True. Richardson is 5-10 and 165 pounds. Teague is 5-10 and 180 pounds. The two split victories in agility drills. Neither knows who is faster.

“We don’t know yet,” Teague said. “We’ve never raced each other.”

They share another common bond; they continually make plays in practice.

“I just felt comfortable out there,” Teague said of preseason camp. “You have to feel confident out there. If you don’t feel confident, you second-guess yourself.”

Richardson also has handled the speed of the game well.

“I’m real comfortable,” he said.

Richardson and Teague walked a similar path in recruiting. Both were committed to Florida before signing with the Vols.

Richardson’s signing can be especially helpful. The Pahokee, Fla., native could help lead prospects to Knoxville.

“Being from Florida and coming to Tennessee, it can help in a big way,” he said. “A lot of Florida players will be looking at it.”

Richardson said he’s not worried about the aftermath of head coach Lane Kiffin’s critical remarks about Pahokee High School and the surrounding community.

“There’s still talk every now and then,” Richardson said. “But I’m here now so it doesn’t matter.”

Richardson said he doesn’t believe the comments will hurt UT’s recruiting in the Pahokee area because his opinions on Kiffin and the Vols will hold more weight.

Teague said for all their differences, the roommates share a common bond.

“We’re two different people, but we both have the same goal; that’s helping this university win a national championship,” he said.

Well Positioned: Greg King has been moved to strongside linebacker from middle linebacker. … Nyshier Oliver said he has worked exclusively at cornerback since arriving on campus. Some schools recruited Oliver as a safety. … Jerod Askew is working exclusively at weakside linebacker after playing the middle in high school.

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Comments » 19

SmokeyWazHere writes:

1st

Yippie!:D

vol_chaz writes:

in response to SmokeyWazHere:

1st

Yippie!:D

................fail

paden312 writes:

Whats the status of these LBs?...haven't heard much about them. Also, any word on clearinghouse issues with Marlon Walls or Mike Edwards?

rich182x writes:

I thought freshman weren't allowed to talk to the media?!?!?!

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

in response to ShaversChoice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, that's great. Let them get it worked out before September!

elsinoresam writes:

Freshmen get 1 day to talk to the media. These are the stars of the future, all of them.

Slimjim_Vols writes:

in response to paden312:

Whats the status of these LBs?...haven't heard much about them. Also, any word on clearinghouse issues with Marlon Walls or Mike Edwards?

Mike has cleared...... so far Marlon has not

blitzshoot writes:

I hope the OL can block for them or it could be a bumpy season for both.

smokymtman writes:

I hope they are as good as they proclaim themselves to be.

PennVol writes:

Welcome young RBs! Learn the system, learn the speed, and make the most of your talent!

sitinhere writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If Crompton can rise to the occasion, that just makes Dave Clawson look even worse. I did notice that Nick Stephans looked better before he started being "coached" last year.

pms151 writes:

Neither one of these kid RB's will start until mid season. There are two powerful and experienced SEC RB's in front of them. You don't go to The Swamp and start freshmen. Now at WR we just have no choice. SEC DB's are going to eat their shorts for a while, but what choice do we have. We can't throw to RB's all day long. Of course that depends on if we can throw at all.

Kevinyaheard writes:

I can't help but be skeptical of Brown. Ever since I read the article of how his brother was so highly rated, but when he got to Miami he was OVER rated by everyone's account. I brushed off the anylsts when they said the competition in Kansas was way below average, allowing Brown to have inflated numbers, but now I wonder a little. He runs so up right and it seems every practice he is getting the snot knocked out of him. I just hope he lives up to half the hype is all. GO VOLS!!

bUTchVFL writes:

There are plenty of RB's that start as Fr. in the SEC. That is old Fulmer mentality(see Jamal Lewis). I remember a RB named Hershal Walker that came into Neyland as a Fr. and played pretty well. Here's to playing the best athletes not the most senior athletes. Go Vols!

cc623 writes:

If these kids can take the mental aspect of being freshman and overcome it they will start/play without issue.That was the basis for CLK's plan.If the kids can play and outwork a senior member on this team then they deserve to play because it does nothing but,make everyone better having competition.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to cc623:

If these kids can take the mental aspect of being freshman and overcome it they will start/play without issue.That was the basis for CLK's plan.If the kids can play and outwork a senior member on this team then they deserve to play because it does nothing but,make everyone better having competition.

Agree,but these frosh are gonna have to earn it.Coach Kiff aint gonna give it to em just because a recruiting service gives em a dozen stars.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

as far as starting at RB in the swamp, that would be a problem if it is the first start, otherwise I would start Montario and bring the freshman in at the half. If the freshman has a start before the Fl. game, the butterflies should be gone for the Fl game.

I still feel Hardesty and Poole will get 85% of the snaps the first 5 or 6 games, then who knows.

WytheVol writes:

Hardesty, Poole, Brown and Oku... We have enough depth, it doesn't really matter who gets the starts at RB. All four of them will get plenty of opportunities this year. And I'd bet right now that come the end of the season, Poole will be our RB hero. This will be his break out year.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to pms151:

Neither one of these kid RB's will start until mid season. There are two powerful and experienced SEC RB's in front of them. You don't go to The Swamp and start freshmen. Now at WR we just have no choice. SEC DB's are going to eat their shorts for a while, but what choice do we have. We can't throw to RB's all day long. Of course that depends on if we can throw at all.

Both backs will proably see mop up time against WKU..UCLA maybe; Gators? Things might get desperate; It will be hard for any back to run on the Florida D ,,How hard is it to take a handoff and run off tackle; high school or college? Hardly rocket science. I do know if Brown gets past the linebackers he has the speed to take it to the house!!!

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