Adams: Receivers could use lift from new system

John Adams

In a 5-7 season, a team often loses sight of whatever good fortune comes its way. So the reasonably good health of UT’s 2008 football team is easily forgotten amid all the mishaps.

But it came to mind Tuesday when it was announced that three wide receivers were injured.

Austin Rogers will miss the season with a torn knee ligament. Denarius Moore has a broken bone in his foot, which could sideline him for a couple of early games. Gerald Jones’ recovery from wrist surgery hasn’t gone as well as expected and he likely will miss preseason training camp.

An outbreak of injuries invariably raises the question: “Who’s next?” You see it with various teams from time to time, when one injury leads to another until an entire season is portrayed as “injury-riddled.”

Since the Vols are uncharacteristically lacking in proven depth, they are ill prepared to overcome a rash of injuries. But they’re certainly capable of weathering this week’s medical storm at wide receiver.

First of all, you have to keep the attrition in perspective. It’s not as though UT lost a Julio Jones or A.J. Green. Rogers caught only 14 passes last season, and Moore caught 11. Moreover, both Moore and Gerald Jones, who led the Vols with 30 catches, don’t figure to be long-term losses.

Their absence in preseason training camp will provide more reps and a greater opportunity for four freshman wide receivers, as well as a couple of veterans seemingly in danger of falling by the wayside last season. UT wide receivers coach Frank Wilson addressed those issues on the The Sports Page radio show Tuesday morning.

Wilson said quarterback Jonathan Crompton just told him how impressive freshman wide receivers Nu’Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague have been in preseason workouts. Both are small, fast, athletic players whom new UT coach Lane Kiffin and his staff snared away from Florida in the 11th hour of recruiting.

There had been speculation about Teague playing cornerback at UT, but Wilson said he has been working at wide receiver in the off-season, even before injuries shook up the depth chart.

UT fans might be skeptical about freshman wide receivers having an immediate impact. Under the previous coaching regime, quarterbacks were more apt to distinguish themselves than receivers as freshmen.

“Our offense is receiver friendly,” Wilson said assuredly.

Appropriate UT fans response: Hallelujah!

The “receiver friendly” offense already has a convert in Quintin Hancock, who was honored as the most improved offensive player in UT’s spring practice. Hancock looked like a future star in preseason scrimmages before the 2007 season, but those performances didn’t carry over into the regular season. He enters his senior year with only 18 career catches after going 0-for-Clawson last season, which was Dave Clawson’s first and last as a UT offensive coordinator.

Brandon Warren, a former Alcoa standout who excelled as a freshman tight end at Florida State, didn’t fare much better, catching 10 passes for 85 yards. When he was moved to wide receiver this spring, he wasn’t an instant hit.

But Wilson says, “We have high expectations for him as a receiver.”

Even before this week’s injury update, this receiving corps was more about expectations and potential than production. You could say the same for the overall passing game as well. The receivers, quarterbacks and offensive line were all inadequate last year.

Now, they have a new coaching staff and a new offensive system in which to redeem themselves.

A few injuries don’t have to slow the redemption process. In fact, in a best-case scenario, they could expedite it.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 32

smashmouth98 writes:

put the best playmakers on the field regardless of their age!!! I hope we can bring in more stud WR this signing class!!!

qspr91iz writes:

I hope Eric Berry knocks Marlon Brown's screws loose. Some of these athletes don't have any loyalty. I just don't understand how a kid is born and raised in TN and chooses to play for Georgia or Alabama. I guess they didn't grow up with a father who watched TN football every Saturday like I did.I hope Teague a TN kid makes an early impact in our receiver rotation.
GO VOLS!!!

dvhill100 writes:

There is always a silver lining. The injuries are unfortunate, but if they allow the younger talent to excel, then it isn't all bad.

amstelman writes:

I'm starting to believe! Come on kick off!

gohawks1 writes:

What's the cause of so many injuries during the off-season?

teampenny#658108 writes:

Usually the results are not good when you have to start a bunch of freshman, they maybe our best chance to win. When a coach tells a high schooler you can come to UT an start, we have fallen a long way. Gonna take a few years to be competitive in all games. Go Vols

TnScooby writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

Usually the results are not good when you have to start a bunch of freshman, they maybe our best chance to win. When a coach tells a high schooler you can come to UT an start, we have fallen a long way. Gonna take a few years to be competitive in all games. Go Vols

Many high school coaches have told their players they can come to UT and start....as freshmen...doesn't mean UT has fallen a long way, just means the skill level of some of these players means they can contribute immediately....and play right away...wouldn't want an all-freshman team but don't see how having enough talent as a freshman to start at UT reflects the state of the program...JMO

Go Vols!!

SWAVol writes:

The only difference is that these new receivers will have more game breaking ability than most of the current guys. A guy like nuke can make a guy miss and be on his way to the house. I hate to see Austin hurt as he was a tough kid but he just does not have that kind of game breaker talent. I see other SEC schools put the freshmen on the field and they have been killing us with them. We had to season their rumps with the proper amount of pine before Phil might let them on the field. Phil was always worried about what they might do wrong and not what they might do right!

TnScooby writes:

Amen SWAVol...good post

Hounddog writes:

Let's play football. Hounddog

hotrodvol writes:
givehim6 writes:

Just need to have a few good receivers so that can give our running game a break.

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to hotrodvol:

Check out this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-8t2l...

great video

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to TnScooby:

Many high school coaches have told their players they can come to UT and start....as freshmen...doesn't mean UT has fallen a long way, just means the skill level of some of these players means they can contribute immediately....and play right away...wouldn't want an all-freshman team but don't see how having enough talent as a freshman to start at UT reflects the state of the program...JMO

Go Vols!!

This is the SEC. A bunch of freshman starting usually does not get it done. Plus we are very short players-we have about 75 scholarship players right now. I like our talent coming in, but they need time too. Go Vols

lomas98 writes:

in response to qspr91iz:

I hope Eric Berry knocks Marlon Brown's screws loose. Some of these athletes don't have any loyalty. I just don't understand how a kid is born and raised in TN and chooses to play for Georgia or Alabama. I guess they didn't grow up with a father who watched TN football every Saturday like I did.I hope Teague a TN kid makes an early impact in our receiver rotation.
GO VOLS!!!

With that logic nobody would ever leave their home state. These kids do not owe it to TN to come to school just because they grew up there and the family watched TN football every Saturday. You are a fan, but they are watching out for their future and where they think they are a better fit. Some kids will mesh better with other coaches. Loyalty went out the window years ago. I have people in the business world that have no loyalty either. A kid going to college has nothing to do with who they prefer to cheer for growing up. That Teague TN kid you refer to also committed to Florida before Kiffin came on board. Just an example of what a different approach and working with another coach can do.

ssukonic#254241 writes:

Chris W---

Thanks for posting that Youtube video. If that doesn't get you pumped, what will? On the other note, you hate to see any of our players get hurt, but more reps for the young guys can certainly pay dividends later---that's certainly happened before. Come on Sept. 5th!!!

GainesvilleVol1 writes:

in response to lomas98:

With that logic nobody would ever leave their home state. These kids do not owe it to TN to come to school just because they grew up there and the family watched TN football every Saturday. You are a fan, but they are watching out for their future and where they think they are a better fit. Some kids will mesh better with other coaches. Loyalty went out the window years ago. I have people in the business world that have no loyalty either. A kid going to college has nothing to do with who they prefer to cheer for growing up. That Teague TN kid you refer to also committed to Florida before Kiffin came on board. Just an example of what a different approach and working with another coach can do.

Good point, also how hard did the old staff go after "In State" talent?

As for the incomming freshman, with the training and pratice of today's players, they are not your "old school" freshman, and can make immmedaiate impacts.

GO VOLS!

qspr91iz writes:

in response to lomas98:

With that logic nobody would ever leave their home state. These kids do not owe it to TN to come to school just because they grew up there and the family watched TN football every Saturday. You are a fan, but they are watching out for their future and where they think they are a better fit. Some kids will mesh better with other coaches. Loyalty went out the window years ago. I have people in the business world that have no loyalty either. A kid going to college has nothing to do with who they prefer to cheer for growing up. That Teague TN kid you refer to also committed to Florida before Kiffin came on board. Just an example of what a different approach and working with another coach can do.

You're right, I'll never be able to control where kids want to go and I do have a son that I take to Knoville every year to enjoy UT football. If he decides to play football for Alabama he would never get another dime from me!
GO VOLS!!!!!!

NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop writes:

It's sad that the best time to be a Vol fan has become post Spring and pre Fall. This is the time of year that we can all still pretend that we are relevant in the SEC because sadly CFP has left this program so void of talent that it will surely take CLK and Co. at least 3 years just to be able to compete in the SEC again. Never thought I would say this but right now we are S. Carolina. My advice to all of us...enjoy the next 6 weeks.

RockinTop writes:

Lamaison is coming: http://athletics.mtsac.edu/

TSNSD4UT writes:

in response to hotrodvol:

Check out this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-8t2l...

Great link Hotrod if that dont get your blood flowin it aint ORANGE.

ETNTigerFan writes:

in response to qspr91iz:

I hope Eric Berry knocks Marlon Brown's screws loose. Some of these athletes don't have any loyalty. I just don't understand how a kid is born and raised in TN and chooses to play for Georgia or Alabama. I guess they didn't grow up with a father who watched TN football every Saturday like I did.I hope Teague a TN kid makes an early impact in our receiver rotation.
GO VOLS!!!

So Eric Berry, from Georgia and plays for Tennessee, should knock someone's screws loose for not being loyal to their state school. That's funny.

cc623 writes:

Thanks RockinTop and although I have not seen any video of the kid the article had great things to say of his Freshman season.

He may not be a "blue chip" QB but,like I have said many times before CLK's offense is QB friendly and a consistant kid in the position is all we need.Don't get me wrong it would be nice to have a "blue chip" QB but,considering we won a NC with a relative unknown and didn't win one with PM then it won't be the end of the world if Scroggins goes to USC.

In the case of all the injuries to our WR's:
This staff has done what they can to get great WR's here as freshman and I have always expected them to make an immediate impact at the position.These kids were going to and have gotten reps at the position since they are true "star" athletes.The injuries have just cemented another few shots to win the spot for good.

lomas98 writes:

in response to qspr91iz:

You're right, I'll never be able to control where kids want to go and I do have a son that I take to Knoville every year to enjoy UT football. If he decides to play football for Alabama he would never get another dime from me!
GO VOLS!!!!!!

Good parenting advice. What if he ends up marrying a FL grad? Guess you wouldn't go to the wedding either.

qspr91iz writes:

in response to lomas98:

Good parenting advice. What if he ends up marrying a FL grad? Guess you wouldn't go to the wedding either.

I earned two degrees from UT and I bleed orange and I'm proud of it. UTK can offer my son the support he needs in academics or athletics and there is no need for him to go to Alabama. He can marry who he wants but I will never send a dime of my money to Alabama!!!
GO VOLS!!!!

TnScooby writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

This is the SEC. A bunch of freshman starting usually does not get it done. Plus we are very short players-we have about 75 scholarship players right now. I like our talent coming in, but they need time too. Go Vols

Nobody expects "a bunch" of freshman to start and ...we know its the SEC...doesn't matter what league you play in, if you're good enough to start and play as a freshman then what's the problem? Experience at the college level is not as big a factor at WR as at other positions. We may be a little short roster-wise but you can only play 11 at a time...that's why freshmen with talent will see the field right off.....CPF had an aversion to Freshmen and IMO it hurt the development of some kids who SHOULD have started and/or played as Freshmen...sheeesh, try to be positive for once....

Go Vols!!!

Psychovol writes:

in response to 1stAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good one!

GhostofRobertNeyland writes:

in response to NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop:

It's sad that the best time to be a Vol fan has become post Spring and pre Fall. This is the time of year that we can all still pretend that we are relevant in the SEC because sadly CFP has left this program so void of talent that it will surely take CLK and Co. at least 3 years just to be able to compete in the SEC again. Never thought I would say this but right now we are S. Carolina. My advice to all of us...enjoy the next 6 weeks.

I will never stoop so low as to compare our beloved VOLS to the gamecocks. You should be ashamed. GO VOLS!!!

mbradshaw1#655539 writes:

in response to hotrodvol:

Check out this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-8t2l...

Awesome baby!! I had to watch EB nail Knowshon a couple of extra times, I just loved that.

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Scroggins would be a bone head to sign with USC...At best he'll ride the pine for at least 2 years and end up being another disgruntled transfer..Unless USC's latest wonder boy screws up big time..They are 3 deep with 5 star QB's; including the kid who transferred from arkansas.. Boston College must have one great line of BS too have landed Rettig..Our staff and facilities are 10 times better than BC. Signed a confused vol fan in FLA

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to TnScooby:

Nobody expects "a bunch" of freshman to start and ...we know its the SEC...doesn't matter what league you play in, if you're good enough to start and play as a freshman then what's the problem? Experience at the college level is not as big a factor at WR as at other positions. We may be a little short roster-wise but you can only play 11 at a time...that's why freshmen with talent will see the field right off.....CPF had an aversion to Freshmen and IMO it hurt the development of some kids who SHOULD have started and/or played as Freshmen...sheeesh, try to be positive for once....

Go Vols!!!

Your right..Our player development under Fulmer was AWFUL!!! Look how long it took them to get Meachum on the field.

ibvolman writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

This is the SEC. A bunch of freshman starting usually does not get it done. Plus we are very short players-we have about 75 scholarship players right now. I like our talent coming in, but they need time too. Go Vols

I know you want to think you know something about football, but then you actually put a post on like this one. THINK a little bit. Nick Satan has NO problem playing a bunch of true freshmen. Didn't seem to hurt his team much at all last year, now did it?

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