A pair of suspended players are back in.
An incoming signee is already out.
The status of four other newcomers still hasn’t been determined.
The numbers game was never going to look as good as Derek Dooley wanted heading into his first fall camp with Tennessee. It also might not be as bad as the first-year coach anticipated when he took over. But either way, with the Vols reporting on Tuesday for their first practices this afternoon, in some ways UT’s roster remains a work in progress.
“I think it’s probably less (turnover) than what it was a year ago,” Dooley said. “But I don’t know, you always have a lot of attrition when there’s a coaching change, and it’s just part of it. There was a time in the spring when I was really concerned, but we’ve done a pretty good job of getting everybody (in for camp).
“It’s good to finally get to the season. It’s certainly been a long six, seven months.”
Dooley’s first six or seven months clearly haven’t been boring, and business might have even picked up during preparations over the last few days for the start of camp.
The lack of developments or charges against defensive tackle Marlon Walls and linebacker Greg King led to the decision to reinstate the players from suspensions for their roles in the Bar Knoxville brawl on July 9.
Cornerback Dave Clark, a junior college signee, was ruled academically ineligible for the season, leaving another hole in the defensive backfield after the dismissal of safety Darren Myles following his arrest in the bar brawl. That combination helped prompt a different sort of roster move — the switch from offense to defense for receivers Marsalis Teague and Ted Meline.
And the continued uncertainty about four other signees — defensive tackle John Brown, defensive back Eddrick Loften, defensive back Marcques Dixon and linebacker Martaze Jackson — left some questions heading into the fall about the complete roster, which sits 10 scholarships under the limit of 85 with only two more spots left open for those four players due to NCAA rules capping additions.
“There are four guys who still are in the process of doing some things, whether it’s procedural or administrative or work, that they have to do before they come to be a qualifier,” Dooley said. “But we have 17 new players and seven mid-year guys that were here this spring, so that’s kind of where we are on the initials.
“We anticipated having several of these issues, we knew it when we signed them, so none of them are a surprise.”
Dooley obviously wasn’t expecting to deal with issues for King or Walls heading into the season, though barring another surprise the matter appears to have been resolved for the sophomores.
Both players were allowed to report to the team after being indefinitely suspended by Dooley despite not being charged by police in the hours after the brawl last month, and neither will be forced to miss any playing time when the season starts against UT Martin.
“It’s still a little tricky because there hasn’t been full closure by the legal process, so I can’t talk much on it,” Dooley said. “But I can tell you this: I’m extremely comfortable with what the facts are and with what happened and their role in it. It’s been consistent since Day One, and there’s been no new information that would lead you to believe otherwise. I’m very comfortable with the discipline that we have put on them, and I’m comfortable with the attitude and the remorse that they feel like they’ve had, and I’m confident they’re going to be two great ambassadors for our program.
“So I have no qualms whatsoever in bringing them back now. The only thing that could possibly change is some new information that I had no idea was out there. I don’t anticipate it happening. I’m always a little reserved until you get full closure legally.”
Dooley also is still waiting some closure academically. But with or without it, he and the Vols are going to work with what they’ve got.