More carries for ‘young buck' Neal with Poole hurting

Tailback Rajion Neal catches a pass before the second scrimmage of fall camp Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Wade Payne

Tailback Rajion Neal catches a pass before the second scrimmage of fall camp Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010 at Neyland Stadium.

  • What: Tennessee vs. LSU
  • When: Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, time TBA
  • Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Cost: Not available
  • Age limit: All ages
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Given such a small sample size and considering the opponents, Tennessee still doesn’t know exactly what it has in Rajion Neal.

It’s not going to waste any time trying to find out more about the true freshman running back though.

With or without a healthy Tauren Poole in the backfield, Neal figures in coach Derek Dooley’s game plan more heavily this week. And getting a feel for what he can do against tougher competition won’t be a problem against No. 12 LSU (4-0, 2-0 SEC) and one of the stoutest defenses in the nation on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) at Tiger Stadium.

“We’ve got to get the young buck going a little bit,” Dooley said. “We’re going to play Rajion, we’re going to give him some touches and see how he handles it.

“Every back is different when they’re a freshman, and I’ve coached a lot of freshmen. Some backs come in with a different tempo, a different mindset than others. Rajion has been good, he’s been good. But getting him to understand the pace and getting him to understand the physicality of running the football in this league, it’s a little bit of learning.”

The best way to learn is by doing it, and the opportunity is there for Neal after impressing again in limited action last week against UAB. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder only had four carries in relief of Poole and David Oku in a double-overtime win, but one of them went for 11 yards and he finished with 20 to give UT (2-2, 0-1) a second encouraging performance to evaluate.

Neal debuted with nine attempts for 79 yards in a season-opening blowout of UT Martin, but against stiffer competition over the next couple weeks he barely even stepped on the field. So that’s left the Vols really without an idea of what kind of impact Neal can have early in his first year with the program, but that’s obviously about to change.

“I was excited for him to get in there,” UT quarterback Matt Simms said. “I looked over at him on the sideline right as he was about to go on the field with us (last week), and I was like, ‘You ready, little man?’ … He just ran out there and he didn’t look nervous at all. It’s pretty amazing, these freshmen. They take the field and they act like they’ve been there forever.

“He’s a really good runner. He reads his blocks very well. The coaches get on him because they want him to run a little bit harder at times, and kind of lower his shoulder and finish runs the way that Tauren and David do. But it’s tough for him because he’s so young, he’s just trying to see stuff instead of just finishing it. That’s going to come with time and with more reps, and he’s going to get more reps this week. He’s got to be ready.”

How much work Neal might need to be ready for is contingent on the health of Poole, who was limited against the Blazers and again in practice early in the week with a thigh issue. It’s also partially tied to what the Vols can get out of Oku, who’s shown occasional flashes of being a productive back but has also appeared hesitant with the football at times.

That sort of uncertainty also appears to have been the biggest hurdle for Neal in getting more action over the last couple weeks, and if it’s a problem against the Tigers, he’s probably not going to get very far.

But the Vols are curious to find out firsthand.

“They’re used to gliding and making guys miss and you can’t do that up here,” Dooley said. “You’ve got to make your cuts and get those pads down and bull for some yards. You watch the freshman at South Carolina (Marcus Lattimore), that’s what he’s doing. He’s getting his pads down and he’s humming. He picked it up pretty quick.

“Everybody’s a little different, they go at their own pace. It’s not really an indicator of where they’ll be two or three years from now.”

UT can’t be entirely sure where Neal is in Year One until he gets more action. But that’s coming soon.

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Comments » 56

allntl1#565211 writes:

Did he really call him a young buck, wow.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

"It’s also partially tied to what the Vols can get out of Oku, who’s shown occasional flashes of being a productive back but has also appeared hesitant with the football at times."

Yeah, he's hesistant to run into a pile that's supposed to be a hole. Zone blocking was successful last year. Did Chaney change back to man?

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

Did he really call him a young buck, wow.

David Keith made a movie called "Tennessee Buck." He starred in it, also I think wrote and produced.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

in response to FirstAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The team needs to get much better...tomorrow...as in Thursday for the game on Saturday.

jobrando#216494 writes:

I'm hoping we will see one back get more carries instead of the constant rotation. Also, think Matt will have to have some relief at qb in the next 4 games.

nocleats writes:

Hold on to the ball, just hold the ball,

american_pitvol_terrier writes:

He might just be a spike or a fork horn right now, but he will be a Boone and Crockett qualifier when it's said and done. Write it down, take a picture...whatever. Just wait and see.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

I really like Matt Simms. The guy talks like a leader AND a coach, which maybe be will be someday.

Matt is not the greatest talent, but he's a good man as far as I can tell. We are very fortunate to have him.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

Did he really call him a young buck, wow.

was a term of fear and respect when I was a kid. the insinuation was 'muscular, aggressive'.

where I lived, was used just how Dooley used it, with no regard to race. All of us where 'young bucks'; many of us hauled hay in the Tennessee sun in August...tough as nails.

volsfannsc writes:

So Poole is obviously banged up but no one is saying that. If that's the case, let him heal completely instead of throwing him in for a dozen touches every game. We need Poole healthy, and if that means throwing the 'young bucks' to the wolves for two weeks, let's do it.

VOLinDAWGland writes:

in response to steamboatticket#484773:

"It’s also partially tied to what the Vols can get out of Oku, who’s shown occasional flashes of being a productive back but has also appeared hesitant with the football at times."

Yeah, he's hesistant to run into a pile that's supposed to be a hole. Zone blocking was successful last year. Did Chaney change back to man?

The issue is more about all the Fresh and Soph on the line versus zone or man. We're just going to have to live through this learning curve. There's no short cuts or magic techniques, just reps and hard work.

allntl1#565211 writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

was a term of fear and respect when I was a kid. the insinuation was 'muscular, aggressive'.

where I lived, was used just how Dooley used it, with no regard to race. All of us where 'young bucks'; many of us hauled hay in the Tennessee sun in August...tough as nails.

Sounds good, my thing is I used this term on my job and it was not taken as a complement by the city leaders where I live now. I too grew up in Tenn. and remember loading that hay.

EHScyclone writes:

in response to givim6:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I,too, wonder what ever happened to Tony Williams ? Last year, before getting hurt, he was running like the next Jamal Lewis and now he is nowhere to be seen..

Southland writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

Did he really call him a young buck, wow.

and what pray tell is wrong with that phrase? I am white and if someone called me that when I was 18 I would feel good about it, shoot I am over 50 and I would feel real good about it. Political correctness doesnt know when to stop and ends up being hypersensitive and downright stupid

nola_vol writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

Sounds good, my thing is I used this term on my job and it was not taken as a complement by the city leaders where I live now. I too grew up in Tenn. and remember loading that hay.

As a Public Service, could someone update an old buck on the new connotation the term "young buck" has?

I'm clueless, and certainly would hate to insult anyone unintentionally. (I mean, what's the fun in insulting people when you don't realize you're doing it?)

I played a lot of street ball in the '70s & '80s where I was often the only white guy. Back then, the term for a younger, inexperienced, but respectable player was "young-blood." Guess that's old school now.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to nola_vol:

As a Public Service, could someone update an old buck on the new connotation the term "young buck" has?

I'm clueless, and certainly would hate to insult anyone unintentionally. (I mean, what's the fun in insulting people when you don't realize you're doing it?)

I played a lot of street ball in the '70s & '80s where I was often the only white guy. Back then, the term for a younger, inexperienced, but respectable player was "young-blood." Guess that's old school now.

it differs....in some parts of the South, 'buck' only referred to black males. where I grew up, it referred all young active males.

I never thought it a derogatory term as some outsiders might.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to allntl1#565211:

Sounds good, my thing is I used this term on my job and it was not taken as a complement by the city leaders where I live now. I too grew up in Tenn. and remember loading that hay.

Just depends on where you are at and who the audience is, I think.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

yup.

JoeBobThibodaux writes:

Doesn't anyone in Tennessee hunt anymore?
A young buck is inexperienced, and sometimes makes mistakes, and when you are the hunted, that can be a problem. I think that is all he was trying to say. Of course if this offends anyone, then "Young Buck", Young Buck, Young Buck. Now in deer hunting, after you survive being a YOUNG BUCK then you become a trophy.

iowavol writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

was a term of fear and respect when I was a kid. the insinuation was 'muscular, aggressive'.

where I lived, was used just how Dooley used it, with no regard to race. All of us where 'young bucks'; many of us hauled hay in the Tennessee sun in August...tough as nails.

who said anything about race? I've used the term my whole life. Saw a young buck with two young does yesterday on the golf course. He was all proud and everything. It's a compliment to call someone a young buck.

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to VOLstuckINky:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't know anyone who bashed his signing, but then I don't bother with the jock sniffers in the GQ. However, he has done NOTHING so far. So his 3 stars and Da'Rick's 5 stars mean very little until they can break into the regular rotation and show us they can play in the SEC.

mloaks#222092 writes:

use 'buck' round here in DC and see what happens...
just saying.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Oku and Neal practice daily behind our green OLine; hopefully they are learning how to run where there is no hole..

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to givim6:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I was thinking the same thing. He sure was lookin good before he hurt his knee.

Agee_Vols_82 writes:

in response to EHScyclone:

I,too, wonder what ever happened to Tony Williams ? Last year, before getting hurt, he was running like the next Jamal Lewis and now he is nowhere to be seen..

I also wonder about him, I figured he would have been our 2nd back on the depth chart once he got healthy. I've not heard anything about him this year, he looked like a workhorse in practice last year... Anybody have any info regarding Toney Williams and why he isn't contributing?

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

Just depends on where you are at and who the audience is, I think.

To paraphrase the Bandit: How stupid you sound depends mainly on what part of the country you're standin' in.

Volunatic writes:

When I saw Rajion Neal's recruiting highlight reels, it made me a lot less concerned about Bryce Brown's decision to quit.
I think Rajion will be a great SEC RB.

hodocka writes:

in response to Agee_Vols_82:

I also wonder about him, I figured he would have been our 2nd back on the depth chart once he got healthy. I've not heard anything about him this year, he looked like a workhorse in practice last year... Anybody have any info regarding Toney Williams and why he isn't contributing?

I heard that he has been hurt the whole season.

jboyle5555#228112 writes:

Good to hear Neal is going to get some reps, Oku tiptoes too much into the line as well as kick offs. Lets see what the Freshman can do.

monsterman writes:

Neal has breakout game, Vols overcome the tigers in the bayou 24 - 17. It is time for it all to come together.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to nola_vol:

As a Public Service, could someone update an old buck on the new connotation the term "young buck" has?

I'm clueless, and certainly would hate to insult anyone unintentionally. (I mean, what's the fun in insulting people when you don't realize you're doing it?)

I played a lot of street ball in the '70s & '80s where I was often the only white guy. Back then, the term for a younger, inexperienced, but respectable player was "young-blood." Guess that's old school now.

People still use "young blood" all the time.

WhitePineVol77 writes:

I don't care of it takes bucks, does, coyotes, feral pigs, or skunks...go beat LSU, or at least give them one heckuva game. Let them know they have been played...all you young bucks.

volfan2002 writes:

Our offensive line just has to get better every week and as they progress so will this football team. I have confidence in Sims finding an open man If he has time and also the back If they get any kind of blocking at all. Were gonna get better. A lot better as the year progresses.

nothinglastsforever writes:

Rajion Cajun! Go git 'em on Saturday!

TennVol01 writes:

Since we the fans all know that this year and next year are rebuilding years, let all the freshman get tons of experience. When they become juniors they will have two years of battle under their belts. Then look out Florida and Alabama. They should let Bray play QB a minimum of one quarter in every game. Just because he is number 2 in practice, give him real game experience to get better. His high school stats were awesome.

rudy123 writes:

in response to VandyGrad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As I recall, it was Dooley who landed Da'rick Rogers, who is a 5* and also James Stone was headed to Alabama when Kiffin was here. Now he is a Vol. Seems to me that Dooley can land 5* recruits.

PEYTONFORHEISMAN1997 writes:

in response to VandyGrad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are pretty confident considering Vandy has only beaten us 1 time in two decades. I don't know why you are even on this site. I guess you are just bitter and have nothing and to do other than go on our fan site and bash our team. I would be pretty bitter considering the record you have had against us and knowing your best team couldn't beat our worse. I believe Darrick Rogers was a 5 start recruit. Am a right?

utfutbolfan writes:

Give him the rock...

james#216392 writes:

in response to Timed_vol:

was a term of fear and respect when I was a kid. the insinuation was 'muscular, aggressive'.

where I lived, was used just how Dooley used it, with no regard to race. All of us where 'young bucks'; many of us hauled hay in the Tennessee sun in August...tough as nails.

Maybe it is a typo saying "back not buck". Who knows with KNS.

tennrich1 writes:

You know, there was a time when interlopers made me laugh with clever post that had a touch of truth, just enough to be funny. Not any more. Now they're kinda like a kid brother. Just not funny and not enough truth or fact to make it believable.

ellerbee123 writes:

in response to PEYTONFORHEISMAN1997:

You are pretty confident considering Vandy has only beaten us 1 time in two decades. I don't know why you are even on this site. I guess you are just bitter and have nothing and to do other than go on our fan site and bash our team. I would be pretty bitter considering the record you have had against us and knowing your best team couldn't beat our worse. I believe Darrick Rogers was a 5 start recruit. Am a right?

I tell you why he is on our site. He wishes he was "one of us". This is the only form of communication he has with "us" and the only way he can half-way speak with "us"......................

murrayvol writes:

in response to ellerbee123:

I tell you why he is on our site. He wishes he was "one of us". This is the only form of communication he has with "us" and the only way he can half-way speak with "us"......................

I tell you why he's on our site. It's in his job description.

8ball writes:

HAS VANDY EVERY HAD A 5* (OR 4*)

Agee_Vols_82 writes:

in response to VandyGrad:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Vandy Grad, how many 5* recruits have ever signed with Vandy? 0. How many 4 star recruits have ever signed with Vandy? 1. If UT is becoming the next SMU then what does that make Vandy? LMAO can't wait to hear your answer if you have one.

Agee_Vols_82 writes:

in response to 8ball:

HAS VANDY EVERY HAD A 5* (OR 4*)

Vandy has never had a 5* and there only 4* signed this past signing day. That's pretty sad...

VolOG writes:

Young Buck is fine, just means a young strong guy rearing to go. Athletes use it all the time.

OrangePsyched writes:

I hope we give Neal enough carries to get in some sort of feel for the game. He is explosive and just needs a crease. We need to establish some sort of a running game or Simms is dead.

illinoisvolfan writes:

I wish I was still a young buck...

GBO!!

bigorange61 writes:

Neal was a 4 star on Rivals, 3 star on Scout.

Groundedvol writes:

Im 30 and raised in east tenn and never new that "buck" was racial slang. Ive been called that countless times growing up. And im white as self rising flour. I love this kid and think he might break out before years end.GBO

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