The first impression isn't the only one that counts.
It might be a little more important than some others though.
Tennessee's opening scrimmage of training camp Tuesday afternoon at Neyland Stadium won't provide the team with an official depth chart when it's over. But it will provide an early indication of how prepared some of its young talent might be for expanded roles, which could play a significant part in shaping what a two-deep might look like even after just one week of practice.
"It has a big impact in who we start investing our time in personnel-wise," Vols coach Derek Dooley said after practice on Monday. "Who we can start shaping the plays around? It's not just one day, it's a body of work, I've said that since I've been here, but it does carry a little more weight and we certainly want our guys who have been productive in the past to play well.
"We also need some of these young ones to go out there and say, 'Hey, coach me up. I'll be ready for the first game.' That's what we're hoping."
The Vols obviously have plenty of youthful candidates to supply that optimism, and the scrimmage setting will provide a critical, early evaluation for the coaching staff to figure out what to do with all of them.
Particularly on defense, UT has been tinkering with various players and positions for a unit currently without a single returning starter healthy in the front seven. Even a secondary stocked with options is undergoing some experimentation to find the best possible rotation, which has led to different positions for both newcomers like Byron Moore and veterans like Janzen Jackson.
The offense appears to be a bit more settled with experienced players filling up nearly every position, though competition for jobs at left guard, running back and perhaps center appear to be evolving thanks to some fresh faces on the other side of the ball as well.
"The main thing is evaluating players more than plays," Dooley said. "We have so many young guys in the two-deep right now, it's just important to see what they are going to look like compared to what they looked like in the first six practices.
"And then some of the old guys, how much different do they look compared to last year? This is a big, early evaluation of our players — it's an important evaluation."
Jonesin' To Play: Walk-on wide receiver Antonio Jones will finally be able to dress like his new teammates today.
Jones will don full pads for the first time in his UT career, as he will finally be eligible to do so after missing the first two days of practice. NCAA rules stipulate that a player must wear just a helmet and shorts during the first two practices, and a helmet-shoulder pads combination for the third and fourth.
A teammate of defensive tackle Maurice Couch at Garden City (Kan.) Community College last season, Jones was forced to sit out because his transcript didn't arrive in time, he said.
"Big relief," Jones said. "I sat right there just watching, ready to play."
Jones, who didn't play at all last season because of an injured shoulder, looks the part at 6-foot-4 and weighing 215 pounds. That's about all Dooley knows about him at this point of the preseason.
"We're glad he's here," Dooley said.
No Word Yet: Freshman defensive back Tino Thomas watched the end of practice with his left shoulder held in a sling. His status on the roster, and that of fellow shoulder-saddled freshman Geraldo Orta, remains uncertain.
Dooley said he would have an answer by the first day of classes, Aug. 17, at the latest.
If all of the 25 signees from the class of 2011 currently practicing with the team qualify and escape NCAA Clearinghouse issues, either Thomas or Orta will be forced to grayshirt the 2011 season. Under NCAA rules, the Vols are allowed to put 25 players on scholarship in a given calendar year. Because they were able to back-count to the previous season, they were able to have 26 in 2011.
Practice Report: Dooley said he complained 18 months about the drainage system at Haslam Field, which typically needed days to recover from a thunderstorm.
After $255,000 of offseason maintenance, the practice field faced its first big test when a severe storm rolled through the area at the beginning of practice.
Dooley was so pleased by the turf's performance, he mentioned it in his opening statement to reporters.
"Big progress today with the grass," Dooley said. "That was a huge. Unbelievable.
"It would be just like this and we couldn't practice. So, we stepped up big departmentally."