Tennessee football practice on April 9, 2013
Oh the poor, poor brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa. Let’s hope none had a late night Monday.
Their stately fraternity house sits on prime University of Tennessee real estate. Red bricked and white pillared, it rests at the corner of Pat Head Summitt Drive and Johnny Majors Drive; in front of Lindsey Nelson Stadium and across from Haslam Field.
It’s typically a great locale.
Then came Tuesday morning.
First, a shrieking baby sent daggers through the air. Then an amped-up car alarm wailed. Then a plane took off — wooosh. Then an air-raid siren thumped eardrums.
A new daycare? A car break-in? An impromptu airport opening? Troops invading from Tuscaloosa?
For this spring practice, coach Butch Jones lobbed every distraction possible at his Vols, blocking out the sun with white noise.
“I heard the baby crying and I was like, ‘Wait, what is this?’ ” said defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry.
Jones wore a smirk shaped like a sickle afterward.
“I like annoying noises,” he said.
Yeah, the lads of Phi Sigma Kappa are well aware.
Sleeping in will have to be a necessary sacrifice.
As Jones pointed out Tuesday, the Vols’ opening road games take them to Oregon and Florida, stadiums with lots of babies, cars, airports and invasions.
“(Noise simulation) may be corny, but it is what it is, it’s being able to focus and x-out everything else,” Jones said.
“You have to learn to sort those distractions out.”
Hear that, Phi Sig?
Asked if he’s identified the team’s punt returners, Jones didn’t bother with coach speak.
“No,” he said. “I’m very concerned about who our punt returners are.”
Jones pegged junior wide receiver Jacob Carter as the forerunner, but during practice was heard yelling, “We’re seeing who can catch punts. That’s all we want.”
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Among the troop of candidates, Pig Howard, a sophomore receiver, is working on both punt and kickoff returns.
“Right now we’re rotating, but I believe by the end of spring he’ll make a decision on who is starting,” said Howard, who admitted to preferring kickoffs.
As for his offensive standing, Howard said, “End of the day, my role is as a slot receiver.”
Carter (sprained ankle), fellow receiver Vincent Dallas (concussion-like symptoms), and defensive back Geraldo Orta (undisclosed) were sidelined for Tuesday’s practice.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.