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- Coach Derek Dooley on the start of the Vols' fall camp
There was stability unseen at Tennessee for years, but a roster of more than 100 players couldn't escape the summer without a handful of developments heading into the start of fall practice.
Highlighted by the transfer of sparsely used running back Toney Williams, coach Derek Dooley had a lengthy list of internal moving parts to address at his Monday news conference.
Williams, who battled multiple injuries and carried the ball just five times in his two years with the Vols, plans to transfer, but hasn't done so yet. Dooley said he wasn't sure where Williams was headed.
"We wish him the best," Dooley said.
Freshmen defensive backs Tino Thomas and Geraldo Orta won't be with the team when the Vols have their first practice this afternoon. Both players, who are currently enrolled in summer classes, had offseason shoulder surgeries. One of the players could be ready to join the team within a week, but Dooley did not specify who had a better chance.
If all of the Vols who are currently enrolled in classes qualify to play in 2011, one of the signees will be forced to grayshirt.Freshman offensive tackle Antonio Richardson is also recovering from shoulder surgery and will not see contact through the first few days of practice.
"He's not 100 percent," Dooley said. "He can still bench press probably more than 98 percent of the team. We got to ease him in."
Cornerback C.J. Fleming will not join the team until fall semester classes begin Aug. 17. A senior, Fleming has seen the field in six games over the past two seasons.
Defensive end Ben Martin, who is recovering from his second Achilles' tendon surgery, is ready to practice, but will be viewed as a work in progress. Martin last played in 2009, when he had 3.5 sacks and saw action in all 13 games.
"We can't forget that he hasn't played a down since I've been the coach here, so we're going to ease him into this stuff," Dooley said. "We don't want to go out there full go on the first day and something goes bad."
Defensive end Jacques Smith, who underwent two foot surgeries since spring practice, "seems to be full go," Dooley said. Linebacker Herman Lathers, meanwhile, is a "couple months away" as he continues to recover from a broken ankle.
The Vols will trot out 104 players for today's practices, a total that is one shy of the NCAA maximum for pre-season practices before the fall semester. Roster sizes expand to an unlimited amount after the start of fall classes.
Seventy-nine of the 104 are currently on scholarship, a total that is six shy of the NCAA maximum.
"I mentioned (before) that it would take three full recruiting years to get up to 85. That's OK," Dooley said. "We're way ahead of where we were a year ago."
Split Squad: The Vols' young players won't be thrown fully into the fire at today's practice. That will have to wait until Friday.
Over the next three days, UT's freshmen, along with various walk-ons, will practice separately from the veteran players. The veterans will report to Haslam Field at 2:15 p.m., while the newcomers will start at 7:45 p.m.
"It builds them up and lets them get a feel for what's going on," senior running back Tauren Poole said. "I'm pretty sure it's kind of tough going right in from freshmen straight into with the veterans. The vets, we'll be able to play fast, so the game won't slow down with the freshmen in there."