Expect to see more of Denarius Moore this fall.
It was readily apparent to onlookers during Saturday's scrimmage that Tennessee's coaches want to get the speedy senior wideout more involved, especially as a downfield threat who can stretch defenses.
Moore only had two receptions for 53 yards on Saturday but was a frequent target for downfield passes from quarterback Matt Simms, who struggled to connect with any receiver throughout the scrimmage, completing eight of 25 passes.
Moore, a former high school sprinter who never shies away from discussing his athleticism, said his speed could take some getting used to for Simms.
"That might be a big difference, trying to see where my speed is coming out of breaks," said Moore, who was even more involved Saturday because UT's other projected starter, senior Gerald Jones, was out with an ankle sprain. "It's just something we have to get used to and get our timing down."
Moore led the Vols in 2009 with seven touchdowns and was second among UT's regular rotation of receivers with a 13.5 yards-per-reception average.
Moore has another week of spring practice to work out the kinks with Simms, and summer workouts to further fine-tune their game. Often, skill position players can accomplish as much in the summer as they do during spring practice.
"We're pretty close," Moore said. "We've just got to pick up like we did last year, staying after practice and getting some extra reps, getting our timing down."
If Simms can't work out his chemistry with Moore and UT's other receivers, it could open up the door for freshman Tyler Bray, who has certainly turned some heads with his overall accuracy this spring.
Bray was 10-of-19 for 87 yards, a touchdown and an interception Saturday.
"He's actually coming in doing real good, better than I thought he was going to do," Moore said of Bray.
Another freshman, receiver Matt Milton, also has garnered strong reviews from his teammate.
"To be honest with you, he reminds me of me coming in," Moore said.
At first, the comparison was a bit curious. When reminded that Milton is listed at 6-foot-5 and could be taller, the 6-1 Moore said, "Oh yeah, he's a little taller - a little slower - but still he's got the mindset."
Hit List: Much like former UT safety Eric Berry last year, sophomore Janzen Jackson is lining up in more of a strong safety/linebacker role at times this spring. Jackson played a deep free safety role last season like Berry did during 2007 and 2008, his freshman and sophomore seasons.
The move allows Jackson to deliver more big hits within the tackle box, a role he's well suited for and very comfortable with.
Also like Berry last season, Jackson has no complaints about his new role, nor the coach - defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox - who is molding one of UT's most talented young players.
Jackson said he's grown fond of Wilcox and offered a reason why.
"The fact that he's more player-oriented," said Jackson, apparently comparing Wilcox to last year's defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin. "He's not always into the coverage. He goes around, jokes with all the players and stuff."
Up Front Update: UT head coach Derek Dooley doesn't believe the troubles that have plagued his inexperienced offensive line will continue forever. Eventually, talent should overcome.
"I think we have some talented guys up front so at some point we're going to see progress as long as those guys keep working together," Dooley said. "We had some problems with the snap, which upset me a little bit. That's probably my biggest concern, is the center position."
The Vols have used several different players at center this spring, including Victor Thomas, Jarrod Shaw, Daniel Hood and Cody Pope. Thomas, a converted defensive tackle, started at center during Saturday's scrimmage.
Poole Time: Don't tell tailback Tauren Poole that UT's defense is too multiple this spring. The junior just sees that as a way to improve the Vols' offensive front.
"It's unbelievable," Poole said. "I think that's good for us because we need to see that. We're going to see that in the fall a lot - a lot. I think it helps us to learn and open up communication."