Unheralded names could figure big for Vols

Tennessee defensive back Marsalis Teague stops a run by Kentucky tailback Derrick Locke at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. UT won the game 24-14.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee defensive back Marsalis Teague stops a run by Kentucky tailback Derrick Locke at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. UT won the game 24-14.

Amongst these four Vols, who will have the biggest impact?

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The handful of familiar names have been busy picking up preseason awards.

The newer ones have dominated the rest of the offseason discussion as Derek Dooley builds the Tennessee talent level.

But it's the guys somewhere in between established expectations and hype that figure to determine how successful the Vols can be heading into the coach's second season with the program.

They might already be starters waiting to emerge as all-conference performers or they might simply be trying to win a job. But either way, when the Vols begin sorting through the roster after reporting today for the first practice of fall camp on Tuesday, these four players could potentially help swing the momentum when the season starts.

Corey Miller

Marlon Walls (58) congratulates Corey Miller (80) after he sacked the quarterback during the Orange and White game at UT on Saturday April 17, 2010. The White team won 16-7.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess // Buy this photo

Marlon Walls (58) congratulates Corey Miller (80) after he sacked the quarterback during the Orange and White game at UT on Saturday April 17, 2010. The White team won 16-7.

The Vols have one convenient example to point to if the sophomore had doubts about moving from defensive end to tackle.

All they have to do is point to Malik Jackson, who went from struggling on the edge to wreaking havoc on the inside seemingly overnight after making the move in the middle of last season.

If Miller is able to match Jackson's success in some form or fashion, the rotation at defensive tackle could be a handful with newcomer Maurice Couch and converted offensive lineman Daniel Hood already expected to give the Vols a boost inside.

Zach Rogers

Tennessee wide receiver Zach Rogers runs the ball 72 yards to the end zone for a touchdown against Alabama Birmingham at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010.

Photo by Adam Brimer // Buy this photo

Tennessee wide receiver Zach Rogers runs the ball 72 yards to the end zone for a touchdown against Alabama Birmingham at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010.

The Vols have one dynamic duo in the sophomore class, and they signed another one they expect to add to the productivity as freshmen this fall.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle with Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter returning and DeAnthony Arnett and Vincent Dallas reporting — there's an experienced junior that could lend an important set of hands for quarterback Tyler Bray as well.

Zach Rogers started four games and finished with 14 catches and a touchdown last season — and actually finished the season with three more grabs than Da'Rick Rogers.

That doesn't make him a threat to take a starting job away from the former five-star recruit, but he could play a critical role in support.

Marsalis Teague

Tennessee defensive backs Janzen Jackson, center, and Marsalis Teague,
left, break up a pass in last Saturday’s game against UAB.

Photo by Adam Brimer // Buy this photo

Tennessee defensive backs Janzen Jackson, center, and Marsalis Teague, left, break up a pass in last Saturday’s game against UAB.

Assuming his nagging turf-toe injury is no longer a concern, the junior will enter fall practice as perhaps UT's best returning cornerback.

But since bagging a large supply of talented defensive backs on National Signing Day, the defensive theme since spring has been the "cavalry" coming to help UT in the secondary.

The return of Janzen Jackson to play alongside Brent Brewer leaves UT in good shape at safety, which should allow the Vols to focus their attention on the cornerbacks in what could be a scheme that regularly relies on five defensive backs. Teague will have plenty of competition to keep one of those spots, but his eight starts a year ago might give him an edge.

Channing Fugate

Tennessee fullback Channing Fugate takes part in a drill during spring practice in 2011.

Photo by News Sentinel

Tennessee fullback Channing Fugate takes part in a drill during spring practice in 2011.

The Vols have publicly expressed an interest in getting the ball in the hands of their fullback more often this season. Considering the gaudy statistics he put up as a running back in high school, that surely isn't a bad idea.

A 3,000-yard rusher as a junior in high school, Fugate obviously isn't going to ever come close to matching that output again. But he can provide a possible change of pace for a ground attack that struggled mightily at times last season — and should definitely get more than the zero carries he had as a freshman.

Fugate might be even more valuable to UT as a threat out of the backfield in the passing game, a skill he has really only shown off once with a 17-yard reception last year against Kentucky. But one way or another, if Fugate gets more involved, defenses could have one more headache to deal with.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 27

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

zach rogers isn't a cornerback

lavette12389 writes:

whats the word on big ben martin? its like hes been forgotten by everyone

tree_em_smokey writes:

Austin Ward were you drunk when you wrote this? Some of the descriptions don't fit the individual you're describing. Other than that a good article! GBO!!!

abnermc writes:

confusing

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to lavette12389:

whats the word on big ben martin? its like hes been forgotten by everyone

He tore his achilles didn't he? I know he was hurt during the spring. Not 100% sure it was his tendon though.

wycoller writes:

Who's on first?????

murrayvol writes:

in response to lavette12389:

whats the word on big ben martin? its like hes been forgotten by everyone

Two words actually. Injury prone.

murrayvol writes:

in response to wycoller:

Who's on first?????

What's on second.

HooRay_Vol writes:

Come on guys. Quit holding KNS writers to such high standards!

lavette12389 writes:

in response to tree_em_smokey:

He tore his achilles didn't he? I know he was hurt during the spring. Not 100% sure it was his tendon though.

yeah last i heard during the spring was he could return by September. i was only curious with he will be good to go or just count him off. despite being injury prone i'd like to think if he was able to play he could have a yr like wes brown had. he wasnt able to play everydown but when he was in he made an impact. even if ben could just relieve the other guys for a few plays

JimmyJoe writes:

At least the article wasn't about Randall Cobb....

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to lavette12389:

yeah last i heard during the spring was he could return by September. i was only curious with he will be good to go or just count him off. despite being injury prone i'd like to think if he was able to play he could have a yr like wes brown had. he wasnt able to play everydown but when he was in he made an impact. even if ben could just relieve the other guys for a few plays

We should hear more in a couple weeks. Idk

VolinCalif writes:

Hey! Hey! It's here!!! It's Footbsll time in Tenn.

TheOpinion writes:

I wish this article was about Randall Cobb.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Anybody know how to play LB?

rockytopwestone writes:

I hope to see great things out of all 4 of these young men. I watched Marsalis Teague in High School and I really look for him to step his game up this year if his foot is fully healed. Last year was his first to play on defence and CDD recently called him one of his most consistant players. GO MARSALIS, GO VOLS !

SavTnVol writes:

I would relly like to see more short passes to Channing this year. When Bray finally got in the game last year, he started out with the short, high percentage passes and did really, really well. Then he tried to get deeper and deeper. When he had problems with the deeper passes, he didn't seem to go back to what "brought him to the dance". Pretty sure it was the coaches call, but heck, this isn't a learning season now, it's a building season. If something doesn't work well, then go to the basic that do work. Throw to the men out of the backfield (and not to a guy IN the backfield) and throw to the tight end...EAT EM UP MARCHING WITH THE SHORT STUFF....it always paid off for Joe Pa..it can pay off for CDD too

RoadTrip writes:

There is a good reason excitement is returning to UT football. An excellent coaching staff that knows how to recruit and coach up players. Since that is the case I will refrain from being an armchair coach and just enjoy the ride.

Now as to sportswriting I will comment. C'mon Man! You can't be serious?! This is all you've got?! Wake up KNS, it's heading south.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I was out of the country for a while, and probably missed some developments. But what happened to Eric Gordon? Is he still on the team? He impressed me last year as a mean, vicious hitter that no receiver would want to go up against. I was expecting big things from him this year. Now he doesn't even get mentioned.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's proven . I think he is one oif the best and he wouldn't stil be here if Lane was still the coach. OCC is going to make us very happy.

knoxchatter writes:

Am I the only one with 'tweety-birds' circling my head after trying to read this???

VolzsFan writes:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football...

Rivals top commits list. No Vols. 9 SEC teams. UT only has about 6 scholarships to give.

OwensboroVol writes:

A special note to High School Seniors, Come to Tennessee and be cheered on or go somewhere else and cheer the starters on. You can play here or spend a couple of years cheering somewhere else.

volman67 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football...

Rivals top commits list. No Vols. 9 SEC teams. UT only has about 6 scholarships to give.

not all the ratings are in on three of our players, there ratings should be higher than 1 star. that is what there ranking them now.Not all the rankings are in,, espn shows that we have 4 four stars pluse the j.c. player we got will bring our avg up now if we can just finish strong well be ok. Go Vols

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to StreetBarberWillyBill:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Another ignorant Rodgers basher..Can't even spell his name right..If you stopped to look closer you would see Zach has seriously been hitting the weights since his freshman years..For his size he's added serious bulk and has zero body fat!!He's also got decent speed and knows how to get open in short yardage,The only passes Ive seen him drop were bullets thrown behind him..He's no Randy Moss but is a good 3rd down receiever..If Chaney uses him right he'll fill Gerald Jones shoes well by his senior season

DannyVol writes:

Nice article, Austin. I suppose some of these people have been so blinded by the brilliance of Adams that they have become spoiled to all other writers.

Give me a break people! There was nothing wrong with this article. At least it was informative and not another 'doom and gloom' story or, worse yet, one about another team. You people are downright contrary much of the time. You'll sit there and comment on one of Adams stories without even caring that he just called the entire program a POS; then you'll pick apart an article that actually looks like it belongs in the hometown newspaper.

DannyVol writes:

in response to StreetBarberWillyBill:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hateful post, transparent reason for writing it. Get over yourself, we're all Vols.

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