Although it shouldn’t be considered a strong indicator of his future plans, junior safety Eric Berry did not participate in the traditional last tackle drill on Thursday morning.
The rite of passage is usually for seniors, but it was unsure if Berry would take part in the ceremonial drill considering most believe he’ll forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft.
The last tackle drill consists of each senior tackling a blocking pad dressed in Kentucky gear.
UT first-year coach Lane Kiffin said he continued the tradition after conferring with some of UT’s team leaders.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Kiffin said. “Someone brought it up to me so I asked a couple of seniors what they thought of it. They said they wanted to continue doing it.”
Another longtime tradition made UT’s players somewhat hard to recognize, as they switched jerseys before practice.
Kiffin said it’s normal for players to be less focused than usual since many have Thanksgiving and/or travel on their mind.
“I thought practice was OK today,” he said.
One player looked plenty focused, according to Kiffin. Freshman Safety Janzen Jackson was impressive in his third practice after being banned from the program following attempted armed robbery charges on Nov. 12. Those charges were dropped Monday. Jackson returned to practice Tuesday.
“He looks great,” Kiffin said. “He’ll be playing every snap on defense and special teams for us.”
Kiffin said linebackers Savion Frazier (knee) and Greg King had successful surgery on Wednesday. Kiffin said cornerback Marsalous Johnson (thumb) is fine.
Kiffin said cornerback Art Evans (shoulder), receiver Zach Rogers (undisclosed) and defensive ends Ben Martin (hip) and Chris Walker (elbow) will be gametime decisions.