Wilson sees opportunities for receivers

Hope springs eternal in the days preceding the opening of preseason camp.

So when Tennessee receivers coach Frank Wilson was asked about losing three of his receivers to injury, he found a silver lining.

As UT’s offensive players try to get a feel for each other during summer workouts in head coach Lane Kiffin’s new offense, less players means more repetitions for those who aren’t gimpy.

“It sounds like an ole cliché but experience is a good teacher,” Wilson said on The News Sentinel’s radio show, The Sports Page. “The more times they can see it, the more times they can do it, the variety of looks they get from the defense will only enhance their awareness.”

Sure, Wilson would love to have a deep receiving corps. Kiffin would love to have four scholarship quarterbacks instead of two. But that’s not reality as they try to rebuild a program that finished 5-7 last season.

“It’s the hand we’ve been dealt and we’re going to compete and go after it and get it,” Wilson said. “We feel confident we’ll be able to get the job done with those guys.”

Senior Austin Rogers is out for the season with a torn knee ligament. Junior Denarius Moore will be shelved for two months with a broken bone in his foot. And junior Gerald Jones will be limited in preseason practice with a sore wrist — if he’s able to practice at all.

So who needs to step up?

“Every one of them,” Wilson said. “We’re so bleak at the position. Right now we’ve got to keep on hammering away and ask each and every one of them to come in and play a role this season.”

Converted tight end Brandon Warren and senior Quintin Hancock top the list of fill-in candidates. Hancock was a standout in spring practice. Warren began to better understand his role toward the end of spring.

Wilson said he is pleased with Warren’s progress and has high expectations for him this season.

“We do consider him a receiver,” Wilson said of the junior who was a freshman All-American at Florida State as a tight end in 2006. “We don’t consider him a ’tweener.”

Then the Vols’ depth chart gets really young. Freshmen receivers Nu’Keese Richardson, Marsalis Teague and Zach Rogers have an open window of opportunity.

That trio has already hit the ground running — literally and figuratively. All of UT’s receivers were sent playbooks to study soon after they signed their national letter of intent in February.

As is customary, most of UT’s freshmen have been on campus working with their new teammates this summer.

As per NCAA rules, Wilson can’t coach his freshmen yet but he can quiz them on their knowledge of UT’s new offense.

“At least mentally in talking to those guys, they’re up to par,” Wilson said. “We’ve just got to make sure we can make that transition once camp starts.”

Part of that transition for the newcomers will be learning to understand disguised defenses and attacking defensive backs in order to get separation downfield. The athleticism that made UT’s freshman receivers so coveted won’t be as prominent on the collegiate level.

“You’re not just that much faster than everyone else,” Wilson said.

While college receivers often struggle to produce in their first year, Wilson calls UT’s offense “receiver friendly” and said the Vols’ coaching staff will adjust to suit each player’s strengths.

“It’s not very difficult for our receivers to adjust to,” Wilson said of UT’s offense. “… We will do things to exploit their talents and put them at an advantage.”

Wilson said the Vols might consider other players to lend a hand at receiver, although no decision had been made as of last week.

Safety Eric Berry’s athleticism would make him an interesting candidate. Berry played offense for UT sparingly as a quarterback and caught one pass for three yards last season at receiver under former UT coach Phillip Fulmer.

Wilson didn’t speak directly about Berry but has plenty of respect for the player for whom UT will launch a Heisman Trophy campaign. Wilson believes defensive players should get more consideration for college football’s most coveted award.

The last time a defender won the award was in 1997 when Michigan’s Charles Woodson bested UT quarterback Peyton Manning.

“There has been great defensive players since then on the collegiate level that have not even been considered for the Heisman,” Wilson said. “It’s just tough because they have the ball in their hands less and it’s less glamorous.

“Unfortunately those guys don’t get the same attention as the offensive guys.”

Giving Berry a shot on offense could help his chances.

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Comments » 37

stayingorange writes:

G Jones worries me most because that wrist seems like a lingering thing. I like reading in all these coach's comments this idea to make the game fit the personnel as opposed to the idea that talented players should sit because they don't master certain secondary skills to their primary talents.

joshvols writes:

im excited to see what we have in the receiving corps. i think BDub and Hancock on the outside with GJ, Nu'keese, and Teague inside is definitely as athletic as anyone in the league. just bc they didn't have a bunch of catches last year makes no difference to me. if the quaterback can put the ball where they can catch it without breaking stride i think we have a chance to be real good in the passing game.

DennisVols writes:

The "Baptisum of fire" my drill sgt use to call it. You get thrown into a situation quicker than you thought.
I think the 3 freshmen thought they would have the opportunity to prove themselves starter ready but may be a bit surprised at the lack of competition due to injury.
This ain't HS with 10 to 15 thousand fans on both sides of the field. This is the real deal and Most NFL teams will never see the size of crowds that attend college games. That can be a challeging effect on the young ones.
Got to coach em up and build confidence in the new ones and rebuild confidence in those returning.

ROCKYTOP10ECVOL writes:

Don't be moving #14 anywhere, let that man do what he do. If anyone on the Defensive side should get a look on Offense it Brett Vinson, he may or may not start at CB, played Receiver at Hargrave already and has good size. I REPEAT, Don't be moving #14 anywhere, let that man do what he do. To much risk for injury.

chad_t31 writes:

I have concerns about Moore and jones coming back once the season has started. Yes, experience-wise it'll be great but missing so much time will hurt. Sure they'll be able to keep in shape in some aspects but there's nothing like practice shape, game shape, etc.

tngivem6 writes:

When does fall camp start?

NoogaVol55 writes:

Did I miss something...what happened to James Green...did he ever make it on campus? Nobody seems to ever talk about him.

vol_chaz writes:

Even with a depleted WR corp, we can't do worse than we did last year..Hancock will have his breakout year, and Bwarren will show his worth really early on. This could be a great chance for the true freshmen to show what they have. Let's just hope we don't see alot of bounce passes..

EricBerry4Heisman writes:

That's I'm saying get that campaign started now.

GerryOP writes:

in response to DennisVols:

The "Baptisum of fire" my drill sgt use to call it. You get thrown into a situation quicker than you thought.
I think the 3 freshmen thought they would have the opportunity to prove themselves starter ready but may be a bit surprised at the lack of competition due to injury.
This ain't HS with 10 to 15 thousand fans on both sides of the field. This is the real deal and Most NFL teams will never see the size of crowds that attend college games. That can be a challeging effect on the young ones.
Got to coach em up and build confidence in the new ones and rebuild confidence in those returning.

Dennis, in theory you're right, the Frosh aren't ready for the SEC. But, in reality, these kids will get exactly what the claimed they wanted ... the opportunity to play. It may get a bit messy this year, but their "trial by fire" will pay off in the long run ... if they survive!

GerryOP writes:

in response to tngivem6:

When does fall camp start?

August 4

bosscat writes:

This has nothing to do directly with this article, but I heard today the early line on the UT-Florida game is UT +27 points. If that's true, then that's bulletin board material.

olozbal#646632 writes:

Can someone tell me the straight scoop on Brandon Warren? Was the FSU year a fluke? What talent does he have? Not trying to bash the guy but from what little I saw of the guy I don't see the big deal.

Txvol57 writes:

Dont forget...Kiffin will probably line up Bryce Brown and Oku in the slot like he did with Bush at USC...Brown would be a nightmare match up for linebackers....nasty!!!

Txvol57 writes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCEPOu...

By the way...check out the video on Bryce catching passes...you will see him in the slot this year...fo sho!!!

SWAVol writes:

Brandon Warren is the real deal. He is a play maker that is big enough to make a db's life tough. Just check the film from FSU. At UT he has only caught the 3yrd turn around or has had to dive to the ground in an attempt to snag the bounce pass.

mtvols writes:

We shouldn't be so worried about the WR situation. It's not like the returning receivers were all SEC or even close. It may be a good thing to finally get Hancock and Warren on the field and give these freshman a chance.

Bufforange00 writes:

They should give Berry a shot at WR. I seem to remember an All-SEC db named Carl Pickens that worked out pretty well at WR for UT.

DennisVols writes:

UT has a reputation of still having a JV team. Meaning that Freshmen only get to play if there are no other players with a pulse left to put in. Even Manning only got to play because everyone in front of him got hurt.
CLK has stated everyone including the freshmen get a shot. The class of 2010 will be looking closely at this years team to see if that is true. Admittly the 3 freshmen receivers will get their opportunity based on injuries in the eyes of many, but when Jones and Moore come back it will be interesting to see if they will still be playing. Brown would have to set on the bench for at least a year under Fulmer. We know we will see him this fall.
I hope this freashmen class lives up to it billing. With the injuries and the lack of depth at some positions these guys had better hit the field running.
New blood, new coaching staff, new offensive and defensive schemes, heck we can't change the color on the uniforms it is the only way we can reconize it is still UT.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

ravensearay writes:

This team will turn some heads and surprise many folks. The cupboard is not bare. They will score from many differenrt positions. 46 days till "It's Football time in Tennessee!!!!!" - I can't wait!!! GO Vols!!!!

GerryOP writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If UF doesn't cover the spread, will you count it as a loss? Just curious...

47 -- Fear The Kiffin...

CheckerboardPhilosopher writes:

Everybody, we're really working hard on a series over at 3rd Saturday in Blogtober, counting down the top 50 Vols off all-time. Please come over and tell us what you think.

http://www.3sib.com/2009/07/16/a-spec...

http://www.3sib.com/2009/07/18/the-li...

http://www.3sib.com/2009/07/19/the-li...

http://www.3sib.com/2009/07/20/the-li...

McMinnVol writes:

in response to Bufforange00:

They should give Berry a shot at WR. I seem to remember an All-SEC db named Carl Pickens that worked out pretty well at WR for UT.

Good comparison, but Pickens was playing WR first and then they put him at DB (if my memory is correct). This would be the reverse situation - a DB adding WR responsibilites. I am not sure which position is considered harder to pick up. It probably depends on coaching schemes and philosophy.

ColeTrickle writes:

I do not think I like the ideal of putting Berry at receiver. Too much risk of injury. He is the staple that holds our defense together. He is the team captain and by far the best DB to ever wear orange and white. We can not afford to lose him. He has so much ahead of him in the NFL. I could understand using him a few times through out the whole season but he should not be listed on the depth chart as a receiver. JMHO

*however, on NCAA 2010 for my 360 I have Berry returning kicks and punts and the # 4 receiver for shotgun formation. lol but thats just a video game

VolFanNC writes:

Hancock and Warren will be fine and Nuke and Teague will definitely get looks. Don't forget we can line up Oku in the slot as well. Beyond that, if the O&W game is any indication, we will use TE's and FB's catching passes a lot more.

Anyway, not worried yet unless Warren or Hancock get injured.

transplantiam writes:

in response to Vol_RobE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First, what are you doing on this site? You're not a Vol fan, if you were you wouldn't cut on the greatest qb in the NFL. PM made a couple of mistakes, they all do, just as Woodson did.Just because the press put down UT every chance, more especially ESPN at that time, shouldn't have cost PM the Heisman. Originally the Heisman was given to the best offensive player. I could be wrong but I think CW was the first ever defensive player to receive the award. Everyone knows ESPN had an extremely big grudge against UT. I never knew the reason for that, but that's what cost PM the Heisman. CW was good but not that good! GO VOLS!!!

spencer1989#206886 writes:

in response to SWAVol:

Brandon Warren is the real deal. He is a play maker that is big enough to make a db's life tough. Just check the film from FSU. At UT he has only caught the 3yrd turn around or has had to dive to the ground in an attempt to snag the bounce pass.

I agree with you. In response to the original poster, I recall last year's coaching staff couldn't figure out how to work him into the offense. I don't think that will be a problem this year.

GerryOP writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good! I'm glad you're hearing those chants already. A win would certainly be a moral victory for us!

47 -- Fear The Kiffin...

GainesvilleVol1 writes:

If Majors has kept Pickens on both sides of the ball his last year, he may have won the Heisman. I say let Berry play where he can help this team. Not every down mind you, but if he's on the offense, the defense has to pay attention to him.

GO VOLS!

PMC2726 writes:

I keep reading these vague references about the Eric Berry Heisman campaign that's in the works. You could have fooled me! Although every pre-season preview guide gives Berry props, he is not included on the Heisman watch list, nor the "dark horse" Heisman watch list either? I would think that if UT is really interested in giving Berry a shot at the Heisman (which I think Kiffin would push hard for since it would bring publicity to the program), the ball would have started rolling already. The only folks I'm hearing talk about Berry for Heisman is UT fans. If he doesn't get on the field offensively in some manner this year, I SERIOUSLY doubt Berry is even a semi-finalist for the Heisman. What gives?

dvols writes:

where can i get a play book? cool

GreenDevilVol writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GreenDevilVol writes:

in response to Vol_RobE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Rob; your SHIAT is getting old with Payton so I tell you like your butt-lick fl fan....

STFU !!!!!! or you get out there and do better yourself..

tgw#509824 writes:

Has anyone else seen that a linebacker from Mount San Antonio JC B.J. Irving is Tennessee bound. He may be coming with Lamaison, but I've not seen anything else on thehim yet. I'm not "IN" on this J.C. site so I just got the teaser.
http://jcfootball.scout.com/a.z?s=87&...

MattDillon writes:

in response to Vol_RobE:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are a sick man

Go4Two writes:

in response to SWAVol:

Brandon Warren is the real deal. He is a play maker that is big enough to make a db's life tough. Just check the film from FSU. At UT he has only caught the 3yrd turn around or has had to dive to the ground in an attempt to snag the bounce pass.

I would say it's 50/50. He's to small to play TE in the SEC got to run block. Maybe to slow to move out wide. Hope he works out good kid.

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

in response to ROCKYTOP10ECVOL:

Don't be moving #14 anywhere, let that man do what he do. If anyone on the Defensive side should get a look on Offense it Brett Vinson, he may or may not start at CB, played Receiver at Hargrave already and has good size. I REPEAT, Don't be moving #14 anywhere, let that man do what he do. To much risk for injury.

I agree. Keep Berry at safety. We have a slew of athletic freshmen to help at receiver .

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