Montana cornerback provides a tall order for receivers

Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers runs downfield during practice at Haslam Field on Thursday, August 4, 2011.

Photo by Saul Young, Saul Young

Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers runs downfield during practice at Haslam Field on Thursday, August 4, 2011.

Tennessee receivers have spent a month doing battle with SEC-caliber cornerbacks.

Now the Vols are getting ready for a bigger challenge — at least physically.

At 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, Montana's Trumaine Johnson is at least two inches taller and 12 pounds heavier than any of the four cover guys listed on the depth chart for UT heading into the season opener at Neyland Stadium on Saturday (TV: pay-per-view, 6 p.m.). And though he's cut his teeth at a lower level and the Vols have prior experience against fast, physical competition in the passing game already, a decorated All-American like Johnson is certainly capable of offering a decent early barometer for a still young group of receivers.

"Most definitely," sophomore Da'Rick Rogers said. "I've watched a lot of film on the guy — his nickname is Tru, and he's 6-3, 200 pounds. So, he's a nice-sized corner, and it's really just a challenge for me to get to go against another big corner.

"There's not really that many out there, a few in the SEC, but it'll be good work for me."

Johnson has provided a few long days for receivers at the Football Championship Subdivision, and he has 13 career interceptions to show for it heading into his senior season.

Twice an all-conference pick in the Big Sky, Johnson is receiving some early buzz as a potential pick in next year's NFL draft, so the possible matchups this weekend have value for both sides. The Grizzlies aren't likely to play many more receivers with the kind of natural athleticism Rogers and fellow sophomore Justin Hunter bring to the table —and UT also will be watching closely to see how much those two have developed since making an impact as freshmen.

"(Johnson) is a heck of a player, there's no question about it," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "He shows up on tape making plays all the time, and our wideouts are going to have to come to play. If they end up matched on him, he's going to compete and see how good he can be.

"Our guys are going to do it every week, we're going to play against good football players. I hope we rise to the occasion and compete to the level we expect them to."

Collectively the degree of difficulty will only go up after Saturday, with Cincinnati on deck for the Vols and a critical conference date at Florida looming after that.

But for starters, there will be at least one individual battle that will literally be a big challenge for UT.

"The goal really (against big corners) is just to show them that, yeah, we're close to the same size, but I'm a lot more physical," Rogers said. "My thing is to just to come out and hit them right in the gut and let them know, 'Hey, I'm going to be here all game and it's going to be a physical one.'

"It'll be good, you know, I think he can run well — but we'll see if he can run with me. It'll be good competition."

Bumps and Bruises: Other than the news Thursday that wide receiver Naz Oliver will miss the season follow season-ending wrist surgery, the Vols appear to be close to full strength for their debut. Hunter was again in a red, non-contact jersey as UT closed out practice Thursday morning, but Dooley previously indicated it was nothing serious.

Familiar Faces: The guy with his name on the building is squarely in the middle. On either side are two more icons from their days inside the structure.

The pictures on the outside of the scoreboard at Neyland Stadium may be new, but the old faces are certainly well known for the UT program, which has honored Gen. Robert Neyland, former coach Phillip Fulmer and former quarterback Condredge Holloway heading into the season opener Saturday.

Their images are easy to see on the south side of the stadium and are one more example of the tradition Dooley is trying to restore.

"The General deserves to occupy the center position," UT senior associate athletic director Chris Fuller said in a release. "Condredge is one of the best athletes we've ever had in football and baseball, and what makes this special is he's a guy who would never call attention to himself.

"The image of Phillip is both a moment our fans recognize and celebrate, and an individual who has an indelible place in our history and tradition."

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 » 26

jg611 writes:

oh no!! soo scared of one guy!!!

orangehippi writes:

???????wth??????so???????stupid article!!

Mtnbiker writes:

IF our WR can't beat this guy we're in for a LONG season. I'm sure the guy has potential and that he won't lay down and make it easy. I'm just saying if we don't make him look silly at least a couple times it'll be a long season against SEC corners.

ClearVol writes:

Can he cover two guys at once? Three? This, i gotta see.

DannyVol writes:

ESPN ranks Tru Johnson #5 among non-FBS players. nfldraftscout.com lists him as the #10 corner prospect nationally, 79th overall, which projects as a 4th round draft pick. His avg. 40 time is listed at 4.52. Although several of his 13 ints. were the result of some really bad throws (see below), this kid is as good or better than the majority of the corners we'll see this year. More than anything, he's 6'3" and can jump.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twoBOA...

Noogaorange writes:

in response to ClearVol:

Can he cover two guys at once? Three? This, i gotta see.

Yea covering 3 people maybe a bit much even for the Montana superman! But....it will be interesting to see the battles coming because you know we're going to test him early to see what he really has. Thank God it's finally here. It's great to be a "Tennessee Vol" GBO

VOLliven2it writes:

Did Chaney really say "heck of a..."? Hey I am sure T. Johnson is a great player. But our game plan will include showing him a thing or two if...our receivers play up to their ability and if Tyler Bray makes the good throws. I am looking forward to what we bring. Time to ORANGE OUT MAN! GO VOLS!

tnbigg writes:

Face it...the guy is extremely good. However, unless I'm missing something...lets not try to measure ourselves by testing him. He alone leaves other, very vulnerable players. This is for a win...not a "test" of us vs their best guy... BRING IT VOLS!

volboy81 writes:

its about time the rest of the world found out what VOL fans have known for years!!!
http://www.wearefanatics.com/2011/08/...

TKG_VOL writes:

KY 14 Western KY 3
Isn't this the team we beat like 70-7 a couple of years ago?

Volunatic writes:

Trumaine Johnson will be a good player to test Tennessee's passing game. Not sure if Montana has much to test the Vol ground game.
I hope the Vols play well tomorrow. I'll be there yelling my head off.
31 hours until FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!
GO VOLS!!!

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to TKG_VOL:

KY 14 Western KY 3
Isn't this the team we beat like 70-7 a couple of years ago?

If last night's game is any indication, Kentucky could be in for a very long season. That was ugly.

CoverOrange writes:

If he is so great why did he end up playing for Montana?

lahvolman2 writes:

You can tell it's getting close to kick off....most of these posts are really getting nasty....

GONAVY writes:

All things considered, I've come to see this as about a 45-7 cake walk. That's good and bad: it allows UT to gauge its timing and execution with minimal challenge...but, sometimes a cakewalk builds false confidence in a team's demeanor...then a real opponent (Cincinnati) shows up and doesn't roll over. That can cause a problem. Anyway, UT will roll over Montana like a bulldozer. The Cincinnati game might be a very interesting one to watch.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

If he is so great why did he end up playing for Montana?

exactly. you and ClearVol make good points.

1. can he cover all our receivers; and,
2. why isn't he playing in the sec or other good program?

bigorange61 writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

exactly. you and ClearVol make good points.

1. can he cover all our receivers; and,
2. why isn't he playing in the sec or other good program?

So they have to play for a big name program to be good?

Nobody told Terry Bradshaw, Jerry Rice, Richard Dent, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner, etc, etc.

You guys are smarter than that.

NOthgif writes:

Well "Tru" does look pretty good, but come on, seriously? Your D-Line is going to unleash hell on poor Montana's Montana. (haha) I know this for a fact because Dooley's hair is perfect! Perfect hair means victory in my book. Ask Jimmy Johnson (except in 1986 during a certain Sugar Bowl match-up with a certain disrespected opponent) Fight ON!

Volunatic writes:

in response to CantStandCantStandSaban:

If last night's game is any indication, Kentucky could be in for a very long season. That was ugly.

I agree. It's a shame, because Kentucky (football) is my least-hated SEC opponent that the Vols face. I generally root for Wildcats football every game except against Tennessee.

Digital5000 writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"We’ll see if he can run with me". Rogers knows he can leave this clown in the dust, as well as every other corner in the SEC. You'll see my man.

I love listening to Rogers run his mouth as well. Nothing I like better than a guy that tells you he's about to eat your lunch and then does it.

Mr. Rogers, or Mr. 6'3" 215lbs. Put on the championship belt after you burn this dude.

-Enjoy Youself

Volunatic writes:

in response to bigorange61:

So they have to play for a big name program to be good?

Nobody told Terry Bradshaw, Jerry Rice, Richard Dent, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner, etc, etc.

You guys are smarter than that.

Well said. Sometimes they have grade/test problems in HS, or might not have a lot of "recruiting stars" after HS, or might want to be near family when they go to college, or sometimes they just really like a coach and want to help build something special. There are all sorts of reasons that good players wind up in non BCS programs-- however, every year there are NFL draftees from non-1A/FBS schools that do well on Sundays. (You can often spot a few of those guys if you watch the NCAA tournaments for those other divisions.)
There's a good chance Trumaine will be one of those that DOES succeed in the NFL.

Volunatic writes:

in response to NOthgif:

Well "Tru" does look pretty good, but come on, seriously? Your D-Line is going to unleash hell on poor Montana's Montana. (haha) I know this for a fact because Dooley's hair is perfect! Perfect hair means victory in my book. Ask Jimmy Johnson (except in 1986 during a certain Sugar Bowl match-up with a certain disrespected opponent) Fight ON!

Sorry to see that y'all lost your D-Secondary coach now at the "11th hour". I don't think he was the problem with the SoCal defense last season-- I think it was the HC's dad.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Digital5000:

"We’ll see if he can run with me". Rogers knows he can leave this clown in the dust, as well as every other corner in the SEC. You'll see my man.

I love listening to Rogers run his mouth as well. Nothing I like better than a guy that tells you he's about to eat your lunch and then does it.

Mr. Rogers, or Mr. 6'3" 215lbs. Put on the championship belt after you burn this dude.

-Enjoy Youself

That's the spirit!
GO VOLS!!!

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to TKG_VOL:

KY 14 Western KY 3
Isn't this the team we beat like 70-7 a couple of years ago?

No it is not the same team.It is the same school however.Team personell has changed as have coaches.Each year is a different team from the last year. I know where you are coming from however.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Trumaine Johnson will be a good player to test Tennessee's passing game. Not sure if Montana has much to test the Vol ground game.
I hope the Vols play well tomorrow. I'll be there yelling my head off.
31 hours until FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!
GO VOLS!!!

Man, I was definitely wrong about passing success vs running success. Oh well. Here's to improvement against Cincinnati.

Volunatic writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

100 yards receiving and a TD.
Looks like I wasn't the only one who was wrong.

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