Dallas Thomas happy to move for Antonio Richardson

Emergence of Richardson has senior on inside

'Tiny' Richardson healthy and finding spot on O-line

Antonio Richardson

Antonio Richardson

Dallas Thomas

Dallas Thomas

The force pushing for playing time is massive, but that doesn't necessarily make it irresistible.

Whether Dallas Thomas could fight it off and simply stay put at left tackle doesn't appear to make much difference to him, though.

If Tennessee wants to see Antonio Richardson at that spot during spring football camp, Thomas is more than willing to slide down to guard. In fact, after two full seasons starting on the outside, the senior had apparently already been wondering what life might be like on the inside anyway.

"I've always been real curious to get down there," Thomas said after practice on Tuesday morning. "I've always looked at it and thought it would be fun because they always get the little knockdown blocks with the center, just coming to clean somebody up when nobody is looking at them.

"I just wanted to check it out."

Thomas has scoped out that scene at guard during open-viewing portions of both workouts this spring, though the move is obviously not solely for his benefit.

The emergence of the physically imposing and mentally developing Richardson has seemingly forced the Vols to do some early shuffling on the "organizational" chart that was just released Sunday, with left tackle perhaps his most likely landing spot as coach Derek Dooley experiments across the offensive line.

With a battle-tested veteran returning for his senior season after starting at that position for two years and growing into perhaps UT's most reliable player up front, it might not have been a surprise if the request to make way for somebody else to get a few reps would have met some resistance. But instead, Thomas embraced the chance to get a different view on the line — without conceding a role with the first unit for a group of linemen suddenly swelling with competition.

"It shows that he's willing to do whatever," Richardson said. "When they said 'Dallas, we want you to play a little bit at left guard,' I was just excited about how humble he was because it was my opportunity to come in. He was really humble about letting me get my opportunity, also.

"The coaches said there's

no set spot. We're all just rotating to see right now where guys fit at. There's no set positions. We're just moving around, and I'm enjoying it."

There's really been no movement on the edge during the past two seasons with Thomas and Ja'Wuan James starting every game during that stretch, nor was there all that much playing time for Richardson to enjoy elsewhere as a freshman.

The Nashville native saw action in all 12 games last season on special teams and turned in one of the highlights of the season with a bulldozing block out of a goal-line package that featured him at fullback.

But Richardson got off to a late start thanks to shoulder surgery that limited him during training camp and in part kept him from making much impact as he adapted to the demands of the game at a higher level.

But there is nothing holding Richardson back now. And while Thomas isn't willing to simply concede a spot in the lineup, he's also not going to prevent the sophomore from getting some valuable reps.

"Dallas was great about it, and I talked to Dallas a long time about learning guard," Dooley said. "It doesn't mean he's our guard. It only means we're looking at him.

"It's really trying to find the best five linemen with who we have, and then figuring out where to fit the best five. We know Dallas is one of our best five. He's proven it — and he's got an ability to play guard."

Thomas also has a bit of curiosity about playing there. And that might help answer some questions about whether Richardson can handle tackle.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 16

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Posted this before on here and someone laughed at me. But Tiny Richardson has the potential top be one of those top ten draft pick guys. Dominant LTs go high in the draft, and this kid is ridiculous. On the other hand, Dallas Thomas is a slim athletic guy. He could be dangerous as a pulling guard.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Posted this before on here and someone laughed at me. But Tiny Richardson has the potential top be one of those top ten draft pick guys. Dominant LTs go high in the draft, and this kid is ridiculous. On the other hand, Dallas Thomas is a slim athletic guy. He could be dangerous as a pulling guard.

It only makes sense and the new line coach obviously can see the forest for the trees..Great move, TB can now trust his blind side..GBO!!

SoFlaVol writes:

When a two year starter at LT and one of your most consistent lineman is asked to move over and "make room for Tiny", watch out! I like the way this offensive line is shaping up as far as depth. We're a long way from playing two walk-on brothers who barely tipped the scales at 250 lbs. I hope the run blocking comes along and we might be a bit less one dimensional this season.

DonK37920 writes:

As I've said repeatedly. The lack of good OL and DL lead to the downfall of Fulmer and has contributed the most to our recent struggles. These type of stories make me feel like an end to this slide could be near! If we can get back to having 8-9 quality OL compete for the two deep rotation on a yearly basis, this nightmare will finally end!
Next up, lets get some DL competition going and hope they live up to the hype also!

OrangePsyched writes:

If we ever do get our run game going this will be a very prolific offense. This will be the deepest most talented that we have been in the last three years. Most of these players are great character guys also. I think the O/W game might finally be entertaining this year.

wigmeister writes:

Things are moving forward in a positive manner. Have a good feeling about the future!

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to RockyMountainVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes sir! Fulmer always had guys like Aaron Sears and Eric Young who could play wherever he needed them. The NFL loves that type of stuff as you said.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

If we ever do get our run game going this will be a very prolific offense. This will be the deepest most talented that we have been in the last three years. Most of these players are great character guys also. I think the O/W game might finally be entertaining this year.

OP I'll give you 2 to 1 that we win that game. 9-3 + a bowl win Go Vols

BleednUrnge81 writes:

Call me crazy, but it seems to me that tiny could tell the dt in front of him that he needed to open a hole for marlin, and that he needed to move, and he would likely oblige. tiny is a big ol dude. GO VOLS, BUCK FAMA

nocleats writes:

Dallas needs to dedicate himself to living in the weight room and increasing his strength big time between now and NCState. Like to see his strength match his size!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to nocleats:

Dallas needs to dedicate himself to living in the weight room and increasing his strength big time between now and NCState. Like to see his strength match his size!

Why don't you write him a letter and let him know how you feel. I'm sure he would be interested in knowing that he "needs to dedicate himself to living in the weight room".

keepitreal4vols writes:

Dooley wasted a year of eligibility using him on special teams for 12 games. But he'll be gone in 2 years so I guess its a wash.

CoverOrange writes:

Something needed to change. Can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Hopefully, this is key point. However, isn't the left side usually your QB protection side as opposed to the run side on the right?

Bubba_Knows writes:

Just drank the koolaid brothers and say GO VOLS!

Navaloranges writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You might have been hanging out with Bubba too much lately. The QB position is the only one that is tougher, mentally, than the OL. Richardson is following the normal path for a college O-lineman. It usually takes them a couple of years to be seasoned enough to play fast, without much on the hoof decision making. The amount of time it takes to achieve "Auto-mode" is different for each position.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Between CDD, Chaney and O line coach Sam Pittman I think we finally have the O line depth to really bring serious competition and the coaches will figure out a solid 2 deep rotation that can have us looking good for each O play depending on the down and distance and what Cheney wants to call.

I expect our O to be explosive with our passing game but I also believe we finally have some O line depth to keep the long, consistent drives going for the 70, 80 yards and clock eating time and to give our D the time to finally catch their breath and to make some D adjustments that they didn't have the time for the last 2 seasons.

Look at the pics of Coach Sam Pittman and he looks focused, intense and big and strong enough to go in and knock the O linemen around a bit if that's needed.

We're going to see solid improvement but maybe not as great as many OVERexpecters want...yet.

VFL...GBO!!!

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