Devrin Young takes some hits, could return kicks, punts against Florida

Devrin Young was welcomed back to contact in a big way.

The way the freshman handled the physical play as a scout-team running back seems to have got Derek Dooley thinking about a much more prominent role.

Despite missing all of training camp with a broken collarbone that has also forced the Bearden High School graduate and possible special-teams weapon to sit out the first two games for Tennessee (2-0), Dooley is at least entertaining the notion of giving Young his first live work in one of the most hostile environments in the country at No. 16 Florida (2-0) on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.).

"I don't know, but he's doing good, he got hit today, which is good," Dooley said after practice on Tuesday morning. "I think A.J. (Johnson) body-slammed him. We put him on scout-team running back, so he can go in there and get some licks, catches the ball well. I told him I would probably be called the dumbest coach in college football if I put him back there in The Swamp.

"But I'm thinking about it, yeah. It isn't the first dumb thing I've done, so I'm not scared. I don't have to catch it."

The Vols don't seem to have any concerns about Young's ability to do that, particularly since part of the appeal during his recruitment was the boost he could provide to a return unit that struggled mightily a year ago just to field the ball.

Young has been able to work on that aspect of his game over the last couple weeks as he recovered from the injury suffered just before training camp opened last month, but the opportunity to prove he could withstand some physical punishment had been on hold.

If he can do that again now, Dooley might have a difficult decision to make against the Gators.

"Not one thing (can ease my mind)," Dooley said. "I know he can catch punts, I know he's quick and elusive, he's been hit, nothing will ease my mind until he goes out and catches one.

"I don't know what I'm going to do."

For more on Tuesday's practice, check back to http://www.govolsxtra.com, pick up Wednesday's News Sentinel or follow

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 » 66

richvol writes:

Give him the ball...

TennesseeForever writes:

CDD will likely look the kid in the eye on gameday and decide. Would be great if the kid can give us some of those hidden yards. Seems like it's been a while since we had a guy you really thought could break one at any time. Nilo Silvan? Leonard Scott?

jobrando#216494 writes:

oh for the days of Bobby Majors....give Devrin a shot at it could be an improvement. DaRick could catch it but not his cup of tea

VolinCalif writes:

in response to richvol:

Give him the ball...

Yea! Yea! Yea!

Volstory writes:

in response to richvol:

Give him the ball...

If he gets on the field I'll assume he's ready. This is going to be a fun team to watch as they mature, develop and play together.

Brillovol writes:

I'm nervous just thinking about it.

VolsUpsetYetAnother writes:

I've been waiting on this speedster to take the field! HUGE WEAPON!!!!! If he withstands the licks the rest of the week rest assured DD will have him back there! Go get em Devrin!!!

law_vol writes:

in response to TennesseeForever:

CDD will likely look the kid in the eye on gameday and decide. Would be great if the kid can give us some of those hidden yards. Seems like it's been a while since we had a guy you really thought could break one at any time. Nilo Silvan? Leonard Scott?

Definitely not Leonard Scott. He was a track guy first, football second. He seemed to run (really fast) straight into the pile on every return.

lomas98 writes:

I have never seen a team have a genuine problem in punt return game as tn has had the last year and 2 games. Maybe Dooley should quit putting so much pressure on these guys and let them play. Fielding the punt should not be this hard. I think the players are thinking too much back there and just hoping they catch it to make the coach happy. They should be looking to flip field position and not just catch it.

RaineyVol writes:

This kid is a baller... Give him the ball!

bigorangetrain writes:

in response to law_vol:

Definitely not Leonard Scott. He was a track guy first, football second. He seemed to run (really fast) straight into the pile on every return.

Except for the kickoff Leonard Scott took to the house against Georgia, right?

SavTnVol writes:

Damn, we need the Majors to start breeding again...

UTVOL2001 writes:

I am ready to see some returners with "swagger" that dare other teams to kick them the ball! Hopefully DY is that man! Looks to have all the tools. Will just need the reps to get that swagger. Put him in coach! Go Vols!

NOthgif writes:

Hmmmmm....Here's my thought on kick and punt return, Arnett and Neil returning kicks...Why not? I keep hearing about Arnett's and Neil's blazing speed. I disagree with Dooley putting his top back and one of his top receivers back there returning kicks. To me, it's just asking for trouble. Now, onto to punt returning. I feel like anyone who knows how to catch and HOLD on to a ball should be back there. Whoever he decides to put back there he needs to stick with! He needs to work with that person early and often in practice on fielding ALL types of punts AND in gametime situations! Heck, even I could field a punt with no one around me, but put the pressure on and see what happens. Looks like they did fairly well last week, but I'm curious to see what happens when one of those short, low line drives comes at him. Also, those returners need to remember this: it's OK to fair catch a punt if you feel like a return is not possible.
P.S. I am not a fan of running toward a low punt to field it. It usually ends up bouncing off their shoulder pads.

ZacharyUTK writes:

Rip the field in half, Devrin!!!

volfandave writes:

go to you tube and type in devrin young highlights then just sit back and be amazed at this kids speed.man i hope he gets to play against florida.just one or two times and they will stop kicking towards him.

CrankE writes:

Rush 11. Sure, that means no return. That's the point.

No fumbles. No worries.

And if someone happens to tip the ball or block it outright...

Attack!

SavTnVol writes:

in response to SavTnVol:

Damn, we need the Majors to start breeding again...

and while we're at it, lets fix ole Tyler up with a couple of them tall gals up there and tell him to do the nasty with em to make some future TALL QB's

give_him_6 writes:

It's Florida coach...you play him..GO ALL IN!!!

VolGrad writes:

Some things are best left unsaid..., but this isn't one of them:

Go Vols!!! Beat the gators!

SmokeDog1972 writes:

"bigorangetrain writes:

Except for the kickoff Leonard Scott took to the house against Georgia, right?"

I was at the UT-UGA game that Scott did this. The incredible thing about that return was that two UGA players looked like they had great pursuit angles to stop Scott. But, he was so fast those guys did not even get a chance to put a finger on him. Scott had incredible (but selective) speed. If he ever could have gotten better on his take off from the line when he was jammed by a corner he would have been an amazing receiver. Man, that dude was fast.

BobbyGraham writes:

About 5 years ago, Urbie put a freshman, who had never returned kicks, into his first action at Neyland Stadium. He did pretty well against us for the next for years. Especially since we kept kicking it to him. Oh yeah, his name was Brandon James. Certain former coaches would never be that bold. But Coach Dooley would. Put Young in the game.

basketballfever writes:

Give Devrin a chance.....he is magical with the ball. He has great speed and his small frame is a positive...he can sorta hide behind the bigger blockers. He'll be a better returner that the kid from Fulton a few years ago. GBO!!!!!

tomcollins28#554986 writes:

Watch him get smashed, now we jinxed him!!!!

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to ZacharyUTK:

Rip the field in half, Devrin!!!

it would be nice to have a person with the vision to pick the sweet spot and burn a trail behind him....seems like all we have is folks that want to stop and rethink the next path and then it's way to late

thevoice writes:

Still don't understand why Z Rogers isn't returning balls. Dude was the fastest HS player in TN, and the fastest on the UT team now.

thevoice writes:

Sure hope florida drops out of the top 25 with a loss Saturday.

CoverOrange writes:

You guys are paying too much attention to the runner and not to the other 10 players on the field. Biggest difference I saw Saturday was organized and contained blocking with an actual hole existing. First time in years. Without that, whoever receives it isn't going anywhere.

Volunatic writes:

"I told him I would probably be called the dumbest coach in college football if I put him back there in The Swamp.

"But I'm thinking about it, yeah. It isn't the first dumb thing I've done, so I'm not scared. I don't have to catch it."

Coach Dooley cracks me up.

Ilovemilk writes:

Get #19 on the field and come Monday that is where the Vols will be in the polls..Devrin is a baller of the best kind.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Put him on the field now, CDD(if he is healthy enough, don't want to push it)!!! This kid can freakin' fly..Totally impressed with the moves and the speed..

Smokey says he is a kickoff-TD-waiting-to-happen...

41_14gbo writes:

I suspect Devrin will do just fine, if he doesn't contribute this week, he will plenty of times over the next 4 years.

The nice part is seeing that talent makes the field - no matter - how young. Dooley's recruits are panning out (for the most part) as quality people. I'm proud he is the coach of my alma mater.

Hrockytop writes:

If the doctor says he's ready, Devrin says he's ready, not fumbling in practice then PUT HIM IN...no brainer.

WV_Vol writes:

in response to TennesseeForever:

CDD will likely look the kid in the eye on gameday and decide. Would be great if the kid can give us some of those hidden yards. Seems like it's been a while since we had a guy you really thought could break one at any time. Nilo Silvan? Leonard Scott?

Leonard Scott?!? No one ever mentions Leonard Scott, but I sure do miss that guy!

WV_Vol writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Glad to hear only 7 dudes will be covering punts for Florida. Do they know they can put 11 on special teams?

Hrockytop writes:

in response to WV_Vol:

Glad to hear only 7 dudes will be covering punts for Florida. Do they know they can put 11 on special teams?

HAHAHA

MtJ_Orange writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree, whoever is back there just catch the ball. Let's not give the Gimmick Gators anything. If the Gators are going to win this game let's make them earn it. I don't want them to steal it from us like we were a laptop.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Like John Ward describing Gault "running all the way to the state capital", maybe something like
"ladies and gentlemen..........Devrin Young running all the way to Lake Alice"

RoadTrip writes:

What do we have to lose? We are 9.5 point underdogs already. If it works out CDD will be a genius. If it don't - oh, well - we tried and he isn't ready yet. Then trot him out there against Buffalo to gain experience.

Devrin will juke the jorts off the Gators. He knows what he is doing even though it apears he has no clue where he's going.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Do collar bones completely heel or could it be a problem the rest of his career? Do you think Dooley is concerned he might get hurt again or does he think the kid may make mistakes?

DooleyWagon22 writes:

in response to SavTnVol:

Damn, we need the Majors to start breeding again...

I'm assuming your're from Savannah,TN (your username). I'm from Savannah also. What's your name?

barefoot43 writes:

Play him. That is why he was given a scholarship.

NOthgif writes:

You know that Muschamp being in that defensive mindset has already been working on his special teams. He will do his best to force turnovers on special teams. I'm sure he has watched lots of film on TN's punt return team. So watch out for fielding those punts on the run. Those seem to be the ones that has gotten TN in the worst trouble. Good luck against Florida, although again, I just don't think you will need it.

Prediction-
TN-24
Florida-17

troubleinc writes:

I was skeptical of CDD from the outset, but am quickly becoming a fan. UT football is on the rise and is exciting to watch again. "But I'm thinking about it, yeah. It isn't the first dumb thing I've done, so I'm not scared. I don't have to catch it." Classic. After the onside kick last week, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see more trickery from our special teams this weekend in the Swamp (reverse on a kick return, fake FG, something to keep em guessing). Go VOLS, beat the cr@p out of the Gators.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

oh for the days of Bobby Majors....give Devrin a shot at it could be an improvement. DaRick could catch it but not his cup of tea

Unlike Bobby Majors (in his white pants against Penn State) and Dooley in his orange pants...This pup Devrin better get him some iron pants...Especially in the seat...That is, if he's gonna try and run back kicks against the Gators in The Swamp

MtJ_Orange writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wrong! Was not a special teams play Brett. Since we are talking about numbers, it looks like you should learn to count your calleries. He-He!

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

in response to Ilovemilk:

Get #19 on the field and come Monday that is where the Vols will be in the polls..Devrin is a baller of the best kind.

Foget about #19...If Dooley the genius can just slip in ol #12 (as in 12 players), as seems to be his strategy...Maybe then we'll have a chance at running one back.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just tell us what you really think, SpongeBob..Don't hold back on us...Seriously, I guess u told him!!

Smokey says excellent choice of words under the circumstances..

coalvegas_vol323 writes:

Give it to him!!! Young to the 50...45...40...35...30...25...20...15 10 5 Give Him 6!!!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to lomas98:

I have never seen a team have a genuine problem in punt return game as tn has had the last year and 2 games. Maybe Dooley should quit putting so much pressure on these guys and let them play. Fielding the punt should not be this hard. I think the players are thinking too much back there and just hoping they catch it to make the coach happy. They should be looking to flip field position and not just catch it.

Fielding a punt is much harder than fielding a kick off or catching a pass. The ball is wobbling and hard to control.

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