Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who started all 13 games as a freshman last season, likely will miss the rest of spring practice because of a case of mononucleosis.
“That’s kind of a dagger,” coach Derek Dooley said. “I told him I always thought you got mono from kissing girls and so usually you get it at a young age. Ja’Wuan kind of waited.”
Notre Dame transfer Alex Bullard, a walk-on, worked with the first team in James’ spot.
“Our hands are tied a little bit at tackle,” Dooley said, adding that he had hoped to give Bullard repetitions at center. “We’re really short at tackles without Ja’Wuan. That’s disappointing.”
Don’t Fence Milton In: Sophomore wide receiver Matt Milton didn’t face contact in Tuesday’s practice because of an unfortunate run-in with a Haslam Field gate earlier in the week.
Running a corner route toward the south end zone, Milton lost track of where he was on the field and banged his head into the fence.
“We have helmets,” Dooley said, “so he’s OK.”
Dooley and Milton’s teammates were able to laugh about the incident Tuesday, but fellow wide receiver Justin Hunter said he was originally “scared for (Milton’s) life.”
“It seemed like everything went in slow motion,” Hunter said. “Everybody was scared for him.”
Hunter said he, too, has had issues with the gates, which run very close to the field on both sides of the south end zone.
“My first time outside I hit my hand on the green wall and almost dislocated my fingers,” Hunter said. “I stay away from that wall now.”
Dooley on Martin: Dooley said he already has met with Cuonzo Martin, UT’s new men’s basketball coach.
“Obviously a very impressive coach and a great background, great story so I’m really looking forward to working with him,” Dooley said. “I think our program is going to be in great hands.”
Schedule Update: The Vols have today off before they return to practice Thursday. Their first scrimmage of the spring is set for Saturday.
Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble