Justin Coleman part of position battles

Tennessee defensive backs Corey Alexander, left, and Justin Coleman, right, run a drill during practice at Haslam Field at the University of Tennessee Friday, Aug. 3, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee defensive backs Corey Alexander, left, and Justin Coleman, right, run a drill during practice at Haslam Field at the University of Tennessee Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Daniel Hood on the beginning of the Vols' fall camp

Tennessee cornerback Justin Coleman used to have flashbacks, the equivalent of waking up from a nightmare in a cold sweat.

The memory was the same: Getting beat on a long pass play and having all the eyes in the stadium squarely on him.

"Sometimes it really got to me," Coleman.

Now Coleman is trying to acquire what most coaches say is a cornerback's most valuable attribute — an extremely short memory.

The sophomore from Brunswick, Ga., is one of dozens of Vols embroiled in position battles that are about to get more intense.

Tennessee practiced in full pads for the first time Sunday. Today, freshman and juco newcomers will be added to the veteran group for the first time. By the end of the week, the Vols will be off to Milligan College.

The introductory weekend of the Vols camp is over, and the real competition is about to begin.

"All the people who are worried about what happened yesterday are never going to get anything accomplished today," said coach Derek Dooley. "Teach your brain to focus on what's next. That's what training camp's about."

Dooley wasn't talking specifically about Coleman, but he might as well have been. Coleman had a sometimes bumpy freshman season — including an 80-yard touchdown pass that he surrendered in the first game of his college career — and he's taken the criticism to heart this time around.

"I just hear I've got to do better, I've got to get better, I've got to make bigger plays," Coleman said.

And if he gets beat?

"If somebody beats me, I've just got to finish the play and go on to the next play."

Dooley said Coleman may have faced unfair criticism last year. For one, the errors of a cornerback are more visible — and often more costly — than any other position on the field. But Dooley also said that Coleman was more vulnerable because he was a freshman and thus more likely to be picked on by opponents.

"He's a true freshman and he made a couple of bad plays," Dooley said. "The younger you are and the more you are out there, the more likely you are going to get tested."

Senior Prentiss Waggner will likely take one of the starting cornerback jobs, but the competition for the second spot is up for grabs after junior Izauea Lanier was declared academically ineligible for this season. Veterans Marsalis Teague and Eric Gordon are also in the mix for the job.

Other battles to watch this week:

At safety, the Vols have sophomore Brian Randolph and then some questions. Veteran reserve Rod Wilks, junior Byron Moore and 24-year-old former minor league baseball player Brent Brewer will get the first crack at the job.

Brewer's 2011 season ended with a torn ACL. After slimming down, he looks more like a defensive back than a linebacker.

"He's leaner so he is moving better," Dooley said. "He was a little bit lethargic at times because he was big. He's playing faster. Hopefully, he'll be able to pick it all up and make up for what he missed in the spring."

The 3-4 defensive orientation of new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri has put a premium on versatility for defensive linemen.

Senior Maurice Couch, junior Daniel Hood and sophomore Greg Clark are all vying for the interior nose tackle spot.

Couch was plagued by asthma and other problems a year ago, but he finished the season strong.

"He's worked hard at his conditioning. He's showing a lot of mental toughness," Dooley said. "When he goes all out, he's a pretty good little player."

Junior Michael Palardy, a kicker and occasional punter, has battled injuries and inconsistency and will have to fend off challenges from sophomore punter Matt Darr, sophomore kicker Derek Brodus and newly arrived freshman George Bullock.

Palardy said he feels physically healthy and mentally strong going into camp. Dooley said that mental conditioning is essential for the Vols' kicker.

"My most important thing is for him to be mentally and physically confident on game day," said Dooley. "That's what matters. We're making sure that feeling doesn't change when we get out there on the big stage. That's the biggest thing that he has to keep conditioning his mind for."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat

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Comments » 25

RoadTrip writes:

No mention of McCullers, who will be ahead of Hood and anybody else at NT. Mo Couch is a RS Junior and will be alternating between DE and NT in the 3/4 and a DT in the 4/3. This article needs some work.

exlineman writes:

It looks as though, barring injuries, we might have a good solid team overall with good potential... Some of these guys are outstanding players that I look forward to watching them play. It appears that maybe our kickers are healthly and looking forward to proving some doubters wrong.

I am sure peabody Jim of Hendersonville and Brett Roberts of Nashville with their many screen names will have alot to say very shortly.

Peabody Jim is also known as bodean vol, ut is the ole miss of the South and several other one and two liners, he likes to spew out at UT.

His other little flame thrower is Brett Roberts (can''t stand saban) ( handicapper) and several other names he uses. His spewing will always be ranting and raving sometimes for a full page, as he can't get over Fulmer a coach with an overall good record in past years, but the last 5 caused his downfall.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Besides QB, cornerback is the most difficult position on the field. Think it is the most difficult position to play. In Hs I played corner , NT, SS, and MLB. Corner was by far the most difficult. In the 9th gradein our first game I let a guy beat me for a TD at corner and the coach got on the bus and yelled at me like a dog for 15 min. I was never the same that season. I feel sorry for CBs.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

We need Coleman to step up. I agree with Dooley... Him playing as a true freshman was a steep climb. QB, DT, and DB are probably the toughest positions to make an impact as a freshman. This kid has a ton of ability and could take our D to another level if he produces.

GreerVol22 writes:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

oldvol59 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

People who think they know more than the coach and his staff used to amuse me. Now they just irritate me. Didn't you momma teach you that if you didn't have anything good to say, just keep your trap shut.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

Key to your comments was "they think, and I think."

We'll see. You could be right..........however I'll take my chances with "they think."

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

So I guess if nobody else is doing it, it MUST be wrong.

Another 'glass half empty' poster... oh joy!

bigorangeyankees writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

I may be wrong but I thought I read there is some work going on during this time frame at these facilities and that is why they are not using it.

TheVolSnake writes:

I posted this on another thread

First of all they will be more aggressive this year. Last year because of lack of experience and depth, Wilcox was unwilling to be aggressive and played it safe. Enter this year Sal Sunseri is willing to send everyone on any play so expect a lot more Blitz’s/Stunts and pressure on the opposing QB’s. The Vols had a Defense that ranked No. 28 nationally in 2011.

Defensive line is not set yet and a lot of players are vying for starting positions. Currently Couch is the projected Starter at Nose Guard and 6-2, 305, however will be pushed by new comer Daniel McCullers 6-6, 380 lbs and Daniel Hood (6'4", 294 lbs). On the left and right side Darrington Sentimore 6-3. 275 along with fellow junior Marlon Walls 6-2, 281 are the projected starters, however Sentimore may play linebacker also. To add depth and will be pushing for playing time are McCullers 6-6, 380, O’Brien 6-2, 293. There is an outside chance that O. Phillips 6-6 , 325 will play this year, he just got to school the day before fall practice started. Tennessee returns four of the top six linemen from last year.

Linebackers this year's starting rotation goes from one career start last year to 55 this year. Middle linebacker Herman Lathers returns. He started 12 games and made 75 tackles in 2010. He missed the season last year due to injury. He will be the on-field leadership the Vol’s were missing last year. The other three projected starters are Curt Maggitt and AJ Johnson. Johnson was a first-team freshman All-SEC last year, and Maggitt was a third-team freshman All-SEC. Rounding out the starters is junior Jaques Smith. Smith was first-team All-SEC as a freshman. He started eight and played in 12 games last year. Because of the new 3-4 several back-up and new comers will be fighting for playing time and some of last year’s lineman may end up playing linebacker.

Defensive back’s is the one area that is still undecided of who are the defined starters. At corner Prentiss Waggner, who was a second-team All-SEC player in 2010 is projected as one corner, last year spend time going back and forth from Safety to corner because of injuries and lack of depth, this year will be a corner only so expect him to be back to his 2010 form. Justin Coleman is projected to start at the other corner but there is several that will push to take the starting corner. The likely strong-side starter at safety will be junior Brent Brewer, and at free safety, it will likely be sophomore Brian Randolph, a third-team freshman All-American last year. Look for McNeil and Bonner to make an impact before the season ends, like Maggitt, Johnson and Randolph did last year.

Bottom-line the Vol’s have Depth and play makers at every position this year unlike last two years when one injury caused the whole unit to have to change and rotate players around. Several sites have the Vol’s Defense ranked as high as #11 in the nation this year.

movol53 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

The major reason for getting off campus is because of the moving that will be going on between the old place and the new. I'm sure you know best that the players and coaches could do just fine with all the workers moving through the locker rooms and practice areas while they are trying to have summer practice.
How will can you do your job with everything around you being moved? The distractions you refer it should make the team "bond together" as they will all be faced with the same off the field challenges everyday. Afterall what else is there to do except football?

TheVolSnake writes:

in response to bigorangeyankees:

I may be wrong but I thought I read there is some work going on during this time frame at these facilities and that is why they are not using it.

You are correct for the last few days several or the same screen name persons have been spreading this “Stuff” on our off site trip.

The Off campus practice will do several things:
1. Allows the SOD to recover, therefore not having to re SOD paid for all the expenses of the Off Campus trip.
2. Allows the Movers time to move items and the renovation to take place verse having to adjust because of practices.
Last it allows no distractions to the coaches or players for a week and they can devote more time in preparation for the upcoming season.

Here is the web link to the reason for the Offsite trip, how they (Vol’s) paying for it and why they are doing it.

http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2012/m...

If they read the article it spells everything out.

hueypilot writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

I'd dust off that resume for the AD and HC jobs that will surely be open after these clueless buffoons move on. I'm sure you'd be a great candidate for either or, heck, both jobs. Me? I leave those decisions to the folks with the duty but I guess I'm just too dumb to see the....what's that word the democrats use all the time? The nuance. That's it. I just don't understand the nuance.

laraccoon writes:

in response to oldvol59:

People who think they know more than the coach and his staff used to amuse me. Now they just irritate me. Didn't you momma teach you that if you didn't have anything good to say, just keep your trap shut.

and if the advice didnt work pop's would do the trap shutting .

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

What do you all think Debby Jennings is doing right now?

NO_DIGGITY writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

What do you all think Debby Jennings is doing right now?

Feeding her pet Wombat Pork Rinds.

DarkGable writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

a gazillion dollar practice facility and they think a little time at Milligan will help them bond. Complete BS. Strange dorms, strange food, oddly enough strange grass...I think they will be so distracted they won't have time to "bond". I don't see ony other teams doing it.

That's because you're an idiot. Many teams have fall camp in other areas or scrimmage other teams. The NFL has training camp. When did you start following football? Yesterday?

givehim6 writes:

LORD please let UT have a good kicking\SP teams this year.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to oldvol59:

People who think they know more than the coach and his staff used to amuse me. Now they just irritate me. Didn't you momma teach you that if you didn't have anything good to say, just keep your trap shut.

heaven forbid anyone have a different opinion than yours.

RaineyVol writes:

Love reading the word battle! means Depth. Boom!

PUL4VOLS writes:

Even with some nega-Neds around, overall there is a lot more exciting talk around the potential for this season. While I have not been satisfied with the way things have gone the past few years, I am glad to hear this rather than so much of the "that" we have had recently. So I'm thinking this will be a year worth watching as the Vols re-emerge though not being ready for the top quite yet. I AM READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

BolivrBob writes:

in response to bigorangeyankees:

I may be wrong but I thought I read there is some work going on during this time frame at these facilities and that is why they are not using it.

You're right Yank. All the stuff isn't done yet. But save your breathe. You can't tell anybody anything that already knows everything.

lstbodeanvol writes:

in response to exlineman:

It looks as though, barring injuries, we might have a good solid team overall with good potential... Some of these guys are outstanding players that I look forward to watching them play. It appears that maybe our kickers are healthly and looking forward to proving some doubters wrong.

I am sure peabody Jim of Hendersonville and Brett Roberts of Nashville with their many screen names will have alot to say very shortly.

Peabody Jim is also known as bodean vol, ut is the ole miss of the South and several other one and two liners, he likes to spew out at UT.

His other little flame thrower is Brett Roberts (can''t stand saban) ( handicapper) and several other names he uses. His spewing will always be ranting and raving sometimes for a full page, as he can't get over Fulmer a coach with an overall good record in past years, but the last 5 caused his downfall.

check your spelling AGAIN bodean vol is a true Tennessee vol fan and 1985 graduate....

Bodeane vol is a Ron Zook/Galen hall fan that wears jorts

GO VOLS !!!! GO COACH DOOLEY & CO

orangevagabond writes:

Does the GoVols247 have significantly better coverage of UT? This site seems to have been significantly reduced its coverage compared to last year.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

heaven forbid anyone have a different opinion than yours.

Different opinions are great between Vol fans and visitors from other teams. I think he's probably thinking about the regular POSERS on here that trash Dooley on EVERY single topic, statement, or action he takes. Big difference.

If you think about it, how many people on here actually know more than the caoches on ANY college football subject. Probably not one. So, ALWAYS second guessing what the coaches do is obvioulsy being done out of spite for the program and not actual debate.

But, with that said, there is probably room for a debate on moving the teams practice for a week. But I would take the coaches opinion on it because they've probably been through the pros and cons more throughly than I have.

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