Butch Jones on the Vols first spring practice
- Butch Jones on the Vols first spring practice
- Jacob Carter on the Vols first spring practice
- Devrin Young on the Vols first spring practice
- Nathan Peterman on the Vols first day of spring practice
- HIghlights from the Vols' first spring practice
- Brent Brewer on the Vols first spring practice
- Daniel McCullers on the Vols first spring practice
- Daniel Hood on the Vols first spring practice
- Jacques Smith on the Vols first day of spring practice
- James Stone on the Vols first day of spring practice
At Tennessee, first-year players don’t typically talk to the media (although new coach Butch Jones could choose to relax that long-standing rule), so when redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Peterman spoke to reporters Saturday after the Vols’ first spring practice, it was a crash course on the responsibilities of being quarterback.
He faced a lot of questions, but he passed the test. If only a blitz could be handled so easily.
Peterman said he was focused on “speaking the same language” as offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and paying attention to the details that he harps on.
“They’ve made it clear it’s going to be an open competition,” Peterman said of UT’s coaches.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Peterman is competing against junior Justin Worley for UT’s starting job.
Worley has the edge in experience, but Peterman was aggressively recruited by Jones and Bajakian when they were at Cincinnati.
“Nathan demonstrated a very strong character,” Bajakian said. “Then you watch his performance on the field and you’re able to see a guy that processes information, gets the different reads in his progressions and can make all the plays on the field.”
Bajakian hastened to add that evaluation was based on “high school video.”
Saturday’s first practice, although very limited, offered the first real-life evaluation. How did Peterman do?
“I had an interception on the first play of team (period),” he said. “We have a fast-paced offense; I just need to calm down.”
Senior Brent Brewer, who has spent most of his career at safety, said his move to linebacker is “permanent” and he hopes the new position will better use his speed and aggressiveness.
Jones called him a “work in progress” at the new spot, but praised his leadership.
Unlike other players who have been told to shed weight, Brewer must add a few pounds at his new spot. He said he’s up to 223 pounds now; his goal is 225 or 230.
Junior Devrin Young also was spending Saturday at a new position, moving from running back to slot receiver.
Young said he sees the move as a path to more playing time, but he no longer thinks the transition will be a breeze.
“I’m not going to lie, I thought it was going to be easy at first. But there’s a lot of technique that goes into playing wide receiver,” he said.
Senior defensive Jacques Smith said he and his teammates were embarrassed by last year’s defensive performance.
“Statistically, you can’t speak about those numbers,” Smith said. “The numbers didn’t show how much effort we actually put into the preparation for that season. What happened, happened.”
Butch Jones and new defensive coordinator John Jancek have scrapped the 3-4 defense installed last year by Sal Sunseri and returned to a 4-3 front — four linemen and three linebackers.
“That was an NFL defense and we tried to put it in six months,” Smith said. “It didn’t work.”
Tennessee will practice next on Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. The first day of full-pad work is Thursday morning. If all goes as planned, the Vols could have a situational scrimmage on Saturday. Practices are closed to the general public.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.