Coach Orgeron and Wes Brown
Throughout spring, Ed Orgeron has told his players he's looking for a "three." He's getting No. 94 instead.
During spring break, Tennessee defensive end Wes Brown decided to approach new defensive line coach about sliding inside to defensive tackle.
So when the Vols resumed practice Tuesday, Brown was working inside as a three-technique lineman instead of his usual spot at end.
"He's been preaching to us, we need a three, we need a three," Brown said Thursday. "I told him I thought about going to him and saying, 'Maybe I can do it. Give me a shot, I'll try it.' If I'm the man, I'm the man. But I'm blessed to be there and happy to be there, and whatever I can do to help the team, that's what I'm going to do."
Rising junior ends Chris Walker and Ben Martin have both come on during spring practice, something that made Brown's move possible.
Brown, who started 12 games at end last season despite playing with a partially torn meniscus that required surgery after the season, has adapted well, Orgeron said.
"Our whole objective in the spring is putting the best players on the field at the best positions possible," said Orgeron. "I think he can play end or tackle. I think he's doing very well for us."
Brown said he weighs between 255 and 260 pounds. If the move to tackle turns full-time, he's confident he can add weight.
"I'm sure I can put on a couple, but right now I feel all right," he said. "I'm just trying to learn it right now. I'm not really worried about my weight."
Brown wasn't the only defensive player working at different position this week, either.
Gerald Williams, who spent much of last season at end, has returned to the position after getting a look at linebacker to start spring practice.
"I'm learning," Williams said. "If I'm going to play a position, I might as well go at it hard."
Practice Report: Coach Lane Kiffin was pleased with how the offense, particularly the offensive line and running backs, responded following a lackluster practice Tuesday.
"They came out and really performed well from the beginning all the way through. Ran the ball extremely well today," Kiffin said. "I thought the intensity through the whole day of practice from the beginning to the end was probably the best practice that we've had."
Tailback Tauren Poole had a pair of long runs, something that's become commonplace for the rising sophomore.
"He's doing really well," Kiffin said of Poole. "Another example of a guy people haven't talked about very much, but has just come out here, kept his mouth quiet and really performed well."
Kiffin was pleased with the discipline on the offensive line, saying he couldn't recall any false starts Thursday.
Offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Chaney had his own take on that.
"We shouldn't have any false starts. We're going on 'one' every time. If we have false starts, we're too dumb to play the game of football," he joked.
Members Only Jacket: Kiffin has talked about using Tennessee's track record for sending players to the NFL as a recruiting tool.
Now it's a fashion statement, too.
Kiffin sported a pullover Thursday with "NFL Vols" embroidered on the front and back.
"We sent this to all our former players here that were in the NFL," Kiffin said. "I was sponsoring it for (UT assistant AD for student-athlete and letterman relations) Condredge (Holloway) today."
Paige Back: Wide receiver Ahmad Paige was a full-go at practice for the first time since crashing into a brick wall inside Neyland Stadium during practice March 13.
"I was scared when I first hit the wall because I got kind of a jolt and I was stuck there for a second," said Paige, who spent nearly 30 minutes on the turf after his injury. "Then everybody came rushing over, and that's when I kind of felt it was a little more serious than I thought it was."
Visitors: UT hosted a pair of unofficial visitors from Wilson Central High School in Lebanon. Offensive lineman Cameron Clemmons and fullback/linebacker Jordan Poole both attended practice.
Injury Update: Cornerback Brent Vinson (sore shoulder) did not participate in contact drills again. Quarterback Nick Stephens (right wrist) was limited, but he continued to make short throws early in practice.
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.