Tennessee's top six early enrollees for football

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, right, looks on as quarterback Justin Worley (14) huddles with the White team during the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2011. Worley graduated high school early so that he could enroll at Tennessee in January.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, right, looks on as quarterback Justin Worley (14) huddles with the White team during the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2011. Worley graduated high school early so that he could enroll at Tennessee in January.

Derek Dooley couldn’t escape the post-Orange and White game press conference without at least one question that had nothing to do with the previous two hours.

Hey, when a coach vanishes into obscurity months at a time, reporters have to work ahead on future projects.

The question wasn’t a new one, but it provided some fresh context.

Let me paraphrase it: How awesome is it to have freshmen who enroll early?

The answer, paraphrased: Really awesome.

“I wish all 26 guys would have come in mid-year,” Dooley said. “That would have really helped us. But it does, it gives them eight weeks of running and lifting with the team. It gives them four weeks of spring practice. And then two more weeks of lifting ... That’s 14 weeks of training that they’re ahead of the class they’re in.”

Dooley wants early enrollees at every position, but it was most beneficial to have them in places where the Vols needed them most this spring.

“It’s huge,” Dooley said.

With that in mind, now’s as good of a time as ever to rank the six early enrollees according to who will benefit most in 2011 because of their decision to ditch high school for college before the majority of their peers.

1. OL Marcus Jackson

Within the team’s first few practices, Jackson, who is massive, was already working with the first-team at left guard. After the first scrimmage, he was back with the second team, but quickly reclaimed his spot over JerQuari Schofield in time for the Orange and White game. Odds are he’ll be starting when UT opens the season against Montana.

“I knew he could play. It’s just a matter of time,” offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. “The old days you used to take guys and redshirt them and sit a year to learn then play for two or three years. Not here. You come in and you’re a high school senior and you are playing with the first team.

“The progression for him has to get sped up. He has a lot of work to do in the fundamentals but he’s out there playing.”

2. TE Brendan Downs

- Downs didn’t have much hype when he came to UT, but he had a strong spring and will likely benefit from a depleted depth chart. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney loves to use multiple tight ends, and he won’t let inexperience at the No. 2 spot stop him from doing that. Cameron Clear arrives this summer and is probably the long-term answer at the position, but Downs has the clear edge going into this particular season.

“He has that (physicality),” Chaney said. “The interesting part about it, usually they struggle learning how to play physical football. He has that part, which is the best part. Now he’s got to learn the plays and that’s what takes time. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid that is doing as good as he possibly can.”

3. CB Justin Coleman

- Coleman spent most of the spring humming under the radar, but he broke out in a big way during the Orange and White game. Coleman showed little fear matching up with Justin Hunter, as he deflected two consecutive passes to keep the dynamic playmaker out of the end zone. According to the post-spring depth chart, Coleman is a co-starter on the right side with senior Anthony Anderson. That’s a good place to be with seven new defensive backs arriving this summer.

“I think Justin is going to be a good solid player,” Dooley said. “He’s tough, he’s physical. He’s still light right now, and he doesn’t know the difference between Cover-2 and Cover-3, but that’s OK. He’ll get that.

“He’s got the right kind of intangibles and he’s instinctive. He’s an instinctive player.”

4. WR Vincent Dallas

- Dallas is athletic enough to play all over the field, but UT’s coaches figured he would make the most impact at wide receiver. Dallas was impressive throughout the spring and occasionally was a first-team option when the Vols went three-wide. With DeAnthony Arnett, who is seemingly a perfect fit as a slot receiver, set to arrive in the summer, Dallas got a much-needed head start on the battle for early playing time. He’s also in the mix to return punts.

“The one thing Vincent brings is he’s got a willingness to play well and to do well,” Dooley said. “He’s polished, he was in a good system and he plays with a lot of toughness. Those little intangible qualities give him a leg up early in spring and it’s helped him.”

5. QB Justin Worley

- It can be argued that no one needed this extra set of 15 practices more than Worley, who is learning a completely different style of offense and just a completely different way of doing things. He’s not the star anymore. That’s a tough lesson for some players to learn, but Worley’s got a good head on his shoulders and has been receptive to the criticism levied against him from Dooley and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw. He’s in a safe spot as the team’s third-string quarterback and shouldn’t be considered a threat to Matt Simms for the backup role to Tyler Bray.

“I still feel the same way about Justin as I did when we signed him,” Dooley said. “I think he’s got a great future here. He did some nice things. He’s incredibly intelligent and has a good investment in getting better. He’s gotten a little bit better every day, but he’s got a long way to go to really grasp what we’re doing offensively.

“But he certainly has all the skills you’re looking for to be a good quarterback, and only time will tell.”

6. C Mack Crowder

It doesn’t appear Crowder is in position for much playing time this year, but crazier things have happened. Crowder, who isn’t listed on UT’s post-spring depth chart, looks much bigger than when he arrived and received plenty of snaps in the Orange and White game. He’s apparently done enough to prompt UT’s coaches into moving Darin Gooch out of center and over to right guard, but he’s not quite ready enough to see the field if James Stone goes down with an injury. That’s why Alex Bullard is listed as the backup. But Bullard isn’t guaranteed a hardship waiver from the NCAA, so Crowder could be in better shape than we think.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 32

423vols writes:

Its good to see brendan downs doing well he was great for tn high

snoopbob87 writes:

Justin Worley is an accurate passer and imho was the best passer in the O&W game. I hope he is given playing time this fall.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't worry. Your boy Brantley will be able to set that new fumbling record this year. No problem.

VolunteerLifer writes:

It's nice to have some depth on the offensive line this season. Crowder and Jackson help give us that.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Have you visited firewillmuschamp.com yet? And how's Charlie's diet going?

BillyVol writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Remember I told you this, We have 20 more coming and most are better than these or just as good.

Hope you take your meds carefully.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Have you visited firewillmuschamp.com yet? And how's Charlie's diet going?

I think Charlie ate Muschump!!!
if he hangs out with Jenkins he will have the munchies and explode!!!

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please......................

just grow up a little, you and fellow trolls.
That's a tough assignment, but who knows?

clvolfan writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So what !Nothing at all to do with football.

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So, UT smoked FU in the finals of the SEC last spring and beat them again 7-0 last month and you're crowing about this?

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Makes you wanna smoke a blunt with a gator, doesn't it?

taylorsvolfan writes:

Worley will be the QB next season. Hide and watch !

Voluvr writes:

Last year we were moving forward with half the depth on the line.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Go Vols! I can't wait for football!

absgovols writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How about you and I count our fav SEC school's FB National Championships? Okay, here we go: 1, 2 (you are done - I get to keep going), 3, 4, 5, 6...Come back when you get four more - I do not expect that to ever happen.

VolGrad writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This is the best jab you have? Go lie down.

freevol writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

bet jenoris jenkins wasnt there

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

By the way, Janoris Jenkins was arrested for pot........AGAIN. Just thought you might want to know.

fbmf624#277664 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

they must have held a gun to someones head or sold drugs to the refs we all know florida cant do anything that isnt against the law. Did you get any money from pouncy or are you selling urbies heart meds, and if you are, dont get caught but if you do florida will take you University of Felons are the greatest prison team next to the longest yard prison team

ncvol17 writes:

Troll response sure takes the subject off line. Must be against human nature to just not respond.

orangeman1 writes:

Whats the deal with Schoefield? I thought he was doing good, but now he's being replaced with a true freshman? At least we are getting depth and a good athlete.

orangevolman writes:

in response to amyinsparta:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Early enrollees graduate high school at mid season. they are not ditching high school.

GONAVY writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Honestly, Bray will have his "late season form" the first two games against highly inferior talent- Montana and Cicinnati- most likely get blitzed against UF, and mop up again against Buffalo. The real stretch then comes...looking at the talent level UT has coming in it does not bode well for Bray. His "late season form" last year came against scout team level talent mostly, if we are being honest: Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and UK. UT best hope he doesn't get mauled...he may be the one picking himself up, unfortunately.

kantanuuv writes:

in response to taylorsvolfan:

Worley will be the QB next season. Hide and watch !

I second that emotion, friend.

Mr. Bray will not physically survive his first ever actual SEC game (against Florida).

Mr. Simms, desperate and pressing to improve his draft stock for the Arena League, will be benched during the Georgia game after throwing more completions to Bulldog corners than to his own receivers.

CVDjr's successor will one day loudly proclaim that Mr. Worley is the future of the Voles.

taylorsvolfan writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nope , don't like boogers.

mcvol75 writes:

in response to orangeman1:

Whats the deal with Schoefield? I thought he was doing good, but now he's being replaced with a true freshman? At least we are getting depth and a good athlete.

Isn't Schoefeild the player with mono? If he is, that's the reason he hasn't been on the field. It looks very promising on the OL for the future. The "higher ranked" player haven't reported yet, so let's hope they all add much needed depth to this line.

537081 writes:

Bring on the "The Big Uglys", I've always heard you build a team with the O Line. We had a great start last year. So many freshmen starting or getting lots of playing time. Plug in a few more this year. I think anyone could see that this is what we need to do to get back to the top.

volsnationalchamps writes:

in response to mcvol75:

Isn't Schoefeild the player with mono? If he is, that's the reason he hasn't been on the field. It looks very promising on the OL for the future. The "higher ranked" player haven't reported yet, so let's hope they all add much needed depth to this line.

No, that is Juwan James who has Mono. I have no problem if Jackson is better play him. Schoefield did some good things last yr and will play regardless. Just adds more depth. There is Richardson, Kerbyson, and Clear (TE)and I think 1 more still coming possibly. So OL will be much improved for next few years. Big time talent.

volsnationalchamps writes:

in response to snoopbob87:

Justin Worley is an accurate passer and imho was the best passer in the O&W game. I hope he is given playing time this fall.

I hope he doesn't this fall. I expect big things from this kid in couple years. Red shirt him let him get stronger and get grasp of offense. He did the shotgun every snap in HS so needs to get work in. He can get 2 yrs seperated from Bray with redshirt and no doubt be our qb of future. Hopefully Bray will do great things this year. Will need to for us to win.

tennesseebee writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Crippledcooon, I have been saying this all along. Worley and the Vols would best be served by redshirting him. Let him season for a year. Don't we still have that QB who came out of Ga with Hunter?

givehimsix82 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I like your outlook.... gbo

UsoCRAZY writes:

I wasn't that impressed with Worley in the spring game. Seemed to me he just went out and tried to throw the ball yard, unsucessfuly at that even. I think it may have even been the same route both times. I think he needs more time and a few more plays under his belt before he's anywhere near fighting for the starting role.

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