Via UT Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee football team continues to have players experiment at new positions in an effort to find the best fits for the 2018 season.
The Vols held their 10th practice of the spring on Tuesday at Haslam Field and head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff spent plenty of time evaluating several players trying out new positions.
Early enrollee Alontae Taylor started the spring at wide receiver, but moved to defensive back on Tuesday, while redshirt freshman Princeton Fant got a look at linebacker after starting the spring at running back. Several defensive lineman moved to the offensive line in an effort to bolster the depth at that unit.
“We switched a lot of guys to begin with, and we said we were going to go seven days,” Pruitt said. “We got to seven days and we felt like we needed to see a little bit more after we scrimmaged. There’s several guys out there that we actually changed sides of the ball. For instance, (Princeton) Fant went from playing running back, which he had never played, to now we put him at inside linebacker. Alontae Taylor has went from wide receiver – which, he was a high school quarterback – to now he’s playing corner. We took three defensive linemen and moved them to offense. We moved a bunch of them.”
Of course, none of the position changes are final. Pruitt and his staff are using the spring to figure who fits best at what positions in addition to installing their schemes.
After scrimmaging for the first time on Saturday, Pruitt felt the team practiced with a purpose on Tuesday.
“The last two or three times that we have practiced, to me, we’ve kind of competed the right way,” Pruitt said. “Not the entirety of the practice, but for the most part. What we have to do is when we get to that point, we have to get guys where they try to get the other guys going instead of the coaching staff, because obviously we aren’t going to be out there during the game. That’s part of learning how to play football, it’s part of learning how to be a team. Hopefully in the next five days, we can start having some guys that step up and find a way to get everybody else going.”
Sherrer, Helton Calling Plays
Pruitt confirmed that defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer will call the defensive plays and offensive coordinator Tyson Helton will call the offensive plays this season.
Pruitt, who was the nation’s top defensive coordinator the last five years, said several of his coaches know the system they are installing and could comfortably call plays, too. He stressed there are no egos on his staff.
“The thing about our staff is if we said Tracy Rocker, you make the calls, he could make the calls,” Pruitt said. “If we said Chris Rumph, you make the calls, he could make them. Charles Kelly has been making them for a long time. Will Friend, he could call the offense. Chris Weinke could call the offense. I didn’t say Terry (Fair), I didn’t say David (Johnson), and I didn’t say Brian (Niedermeyer), not because they’re not capable, they just haven’t worked in this system before. The other guys are very familiar with what we want to get done, how we want to do it, and all 10 of them are very involved in our daily planning.”
Taylor Making an Impact
Rising redshirt junior Darrell Taylor started seven games at defensive end last fall, but he is making the transition to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme this spring.
“Darrell has done a good job this spring,” Pruitt said. “He seems to be willing to learn.”
Pruitt said the Waverly, Va., native is standing out in some areas, but stressed that he needs to perform better on special teams.
He’s done some good things on defense as far as rushing the quarterback, and was stout at the end of the line … (But) he needs to improve on how he plays on special teams.”
Taylor totaled 27 tackles with four tackles for loss and three sacks in 2017.
American Idol Winner to Perform at DISH Orange & White Game
Nashville country music sensation Trent Harmon (Big Machine Records) will perform at the Toyota Volunteer Village in Lot 9 prior to the DISH Orange & White Game. Harmon won the 15th season of American Idol in April of 2016. His hit song, “There’s A Girl” is currently being played throughout the nation. Trent Harmon – There’s A Girl Video