Vols use Wes Welker as model

Derek Dooley talks after Thursday's practice

When he huddles up his players, Tennessee wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett often rattles off the names of Cris Carter and Randy Moss, the two star receivers he coached for five years with the Minnesota Vikings.

When he's talking to Vincent Dallas and DeAnthony Arnett, the Vols' two freshmen receivers, Baggett switches his role model of choice to another star NFL receiver he coached, shifty slot man Wes Welker.

Baggett sees it as a much more appropriate comparison.

"We're hoping Vincent and DeAnthony can do the kind of stuff Wes used to be able to do, move around and get in those open areas and move the chains, get first downs," Baggett said after Thursday's practice at Haslam Field.

"Both have quickness and both have a lot of ability. I'm looking forward to seeing how far they can come."

Sophomores Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers are locked in as the Vols' two starting outside receivers, but a wide open competition remains in the slot. Dallas, Arnett and oft-forgotten junior Zach Rogers are all in the mix at a position that the Vols consider extremely valuable to their offensive endeavors.

"Anytime you have a pro passing attack, you've got to have a slot guy," Baggett said. "We feel comfortable that we do now and we also have some guys we feel are going to be role players that we can plug in. Some of the young guys really look good. That's exciting to me."

Before any comparisons to Welker surface, the Vols will simply attempt to replace Gerald Jones, who made his biggest contributions on third downs in 2010.

When Jones was out for three games with a broken hand, UT's offense converted just six of 43 third downs and none on third-and-longs. In the final eight games, with Jones entrenched at his spot in the slot, the Vols were a strong 52-for-115.

"When he went out, we suffered a little bit," Baggett said. "We didn't have a guy that could really do things he could do."

For now, Dallas, who participated in spring practice, has the upper hand on Arnett, who arrived the conventional way during the summer. Experience-wise, though, Rogers is ahead of both.

He just has to stay healthy.

Rogers started strong, racking up 183 yards and a touchdown through the first four games, but was largely non-existent during the second half of 2010. Nagging ankle, knee and shoulder injuries along with a concussion derailed most of his sophomore season.

Rogers, whom Baggett said had a "frail body," said he's added a few pounds of muscle as a means of preventive maintenance.

"Hopefully I can hang out a little better this year and keep durable for this offense," Rogers said.

Practice Report: The Vols donned shoulder pads and shorts for Thursday's split practices and will do the same today before a full-pads practice Saturday.

Coach Derek Dooley said Thursday was tougher on the Vols than the previous two days for understandable reasons.

"It's heavy, they're sweating, they're hitting," he said.

"We just got to adjust. That's what your body does. It will adjust to the amount of stress you put on it."

UT's veterans and freshmen will come together for the first time at today's afternoon practice.

"The kids are moving around, the attitude's fantastic, they're working hard," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "They're quiet, which is always a good sign to me. It appears to be a tad bit more mature to me when I'm around our offensive kids."

Roster Moves: Wide receiver Antonio Jones, who teamed up with defensive tackle Maurice Couch at Garden City (Kan.) Community College last season, was added to the roster Thursday.

Defensive end Keensen Chambers, who transferred from UConn last season, and walk-on linebacker Zach Mulitauaopele are no longer with the team.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 19

PlaidinOrangeandWhite writes:

This is a critcal spot for the Vols. It is imperative that they find a slot receiver that can move the chains. We struggled mightily with Jones out last year. Hopefully one of these guys can step up! GBO!

LJS1984 writes:

I was talking about this on GVX247, I fully expect Zach Rogers to play a big role as the "Wes Welker" on this team. I don't think for a second that it's a coincidence that Rogers wears number 83. Hopefully, one of the guys will perform like the aforementioned NFL number 83.

arkyvol writes:

fwiw: welker is as tough as a boot and the one guy other teams never seen to get covered.

bigorange61 writes:

For a guy with no stars, very few college offers, and an undrafted free agent, he has done pretty good. (sarcasm)

Too small for college ball. Too small for professional football. That was the consensus. Goes to show it's not the size of dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

LJS1984 writes:

in response to bigorange61:

For a guy with no stars, very few college offers, and an undrafted free agent, he has done pretty good. (sarcasm)

Too small for college ball. Too small for professional football. That was the consensus. Goes to show it's not the size of dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

I remember watching Wes Welker when he played for Texas Tech, anybody that knows football should have known long before now that he can play. He was ridiculous returning punts for Tech, fearless. Returned eight for touchdowns while at Tech. With the exposure that college football gets in today's world there is no way another Wes Welker flys under the radar and goes undrafted like he did. If he was in college now, everybody would be talking Heisman about him.

bigorange61 writes:

in response to LJS1984:

I remember watching Wes Welker when he played for Texas Tech, anybody that knows football should have known long before now that he can play. He was ridiculous returning punts for Tech, fearless. Returned eight for touchdowns while at Tech. With the exposure that college football gets in today's world there is no way another Wes Welker flys under the radar and goes undrafted like he did. If he was in college now, everybody would be talking Heisman about him.

I agree with you on everything except the undrafted part. 2004 wasn't that long ago. College football was getting plenty of exposure.

I think a person like him would still go undrafted today. I don't think he fits the profile the NFL is looking for, and certainly not for an early round draft pick. Just my opinion. But I think teams would be lined up around the corner to give him a chance at free agency.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I'm pulling for Zach to do something special this year! Big Brother got ripped off with an injury during his senior season! Keep adding that muscle and durability! GBO!

thetrollhunter writes:

Maybe he will be the next Nick Reviez

punkin writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why don't you go to their boards and make some smartazz comment like you do here?

VOLliven2it writes:

Welker is a remarkable receiver. He would be a great one for our guys to emulate. Personally, I am selfish and would love to have two third down go to guys but I will take just one dependable one. As for Welker now being a Heisman candidate, I don't buy that for a minute.

Brillovol writes:

in response to bigorange61:

I agree with you on everything except the undrafted part. 2004 wasn't that long ago. College football was getting plenty of exposure.

I think a person like him would still go undrafted today. I don't think he fits the profile the NFL is looking for, and certainly not for an early round draft pick. Just my opinion. But I think teams would be lined up around the corner to give him a chance at free agency.

Furthering your point, see Mark Mariani, 2010. He got drafted, but in the 7th and 222nd pick of the draft. Not sayin he's the same caliber as Welker, but he ain't that far off either.

hueypilot writes:

Steve Largent was another in that mold who held buckets of NFL records, but was not the speed burner many say you have to be to be a successful receiver. Sometimes Largent would make one more fake, or move and get his defender to nearly fall down.
We have not had precise route running in the past (exception Gerald Jones) because it was obvious our receivers were seldom "wide open". 4-5 years ago former UT coach told me that our receivers rounded off their routes instead of breaking them sharply, allowing cover guys to catch up and cover. Most really good route runners can get separation on the average college cover guy. For years we've had guys covered like a tent as CClausen/Ainge/RClausen/Sims/Bray tried to laser it in there. Hopefully Baggett can instruct these guys in route running.

Volunatic writes:

Sorry to hear that walk-on linebacker Zach Mulitauaopele isn't with the team anymore. Those Polynesian guys tend to be really tough dudes.

IndyVolFan writes:

Meanwhile, D-Mo doing great in Oakland. Sorry, I couldn't figure a better place to put this and the Sentinel won't have anything on it for weeks.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/r...

Cordova_Vol writes:

in response to IndyVolFan:

Meanwhile, D-Mo doing great in Oakland. Sorry, I couldn't figure a better place to put this and the Sentinel won't have anything on it for weeks.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/r...

Nice. Thanks for sharing, Indy.

oskie_score writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Steve Largent was another in that mold who held buckets of NFL records, but was not the speed burner many say you have to be to be a successful receiver. Sometimes Largent would make one more fake, or move and get his defender to nearly fall down.
We have not had precise route running in the past (exception Gerald Jones) because it was obvious our receivers were seldom "wide open". 4-5 years ago former UT coach told me that our receivers rounded off their routes instead of breaking them sharply, allowing cover guys to catch up and cover. Most really good route runners can get separation on the average college cover guy. For years we've had guys covered like a tent as CClausen/Ainge/RClausen/Sims/Bray tried to laser it in there. Hopefully Baggett can instruct these guys in route running.

Careful, huey, you're dating yourself. :-) Seriously, SL is another good example of a solid possession receiver.

Maybe those who criticized Gerald throughout his Tennessee playing days, now will realize his importance to the team. Any player who can be relied on to successfully move the chains that often on third down is invaluable to that team regardless.

As to route running, I agree with you to a point, true, in the past Tennessee receivers have had difficulties in running precise routes, but unlike speed or a players uncanny ability to get open no matter the coverage, route running is a technique and technique is taught...therefore, ultimately, that responsibility falls on the position coach.

Volunatic writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Steve Largent was another in that mold who held buckets of NFL records, but was not the speed burner many say you have to be to be a successful receiver. Sometimes Largent would make one more fake, or move and get his defender to nearly fall down.
We have not had precise route running in the past (exception Gerald Jones) because it was obvious our receivers were seldom "wide open". 4-5 years ago former UT coach told me that our receivers rounded off their routes instead of breaking them sharply, allowing cover guys to catch up and cover. Most really good route runners can get separation on the average college cover guy. For years we've had guys covered like a tent as CClausen/Ainge/RClausen/Sims/Bray tried to laser it in there. Hopefully Baggett can instruct these guys in route running.

Tony Brown was an excellent route runner and was fearless about catching the ball in traffic up the middle, and as a result he was an excellent possession receiver. It always irritated me that Coaches Sanders and Fulmer never gave him the credit he deserved.

givehim6 writes:

I'm really looking forward to seeing Da'Rick play at more of a full speed this year seems like last year he did not get really cranked-up till late in the year, probly due to the fact we had 3 good SR. and he didn't have too.

Theo writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Terrible news about the LSU coach. Glad to find out and wish he and his family the best.
Why, however, given your constant jerkiness on this site, would you think that all of a sudden your posts should be treated with respect. You reap what you sow BV.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features