published Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

UT's Richardson back at practice


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday that freshman wide receiver and return specialist Nu'Keese Richardson was back with the team and available for Saturday's game against Memphis.

Richardson, a prized prospect from South Florida, missed Sunday's practice for what Kiffin called "unspecified issues."

"There is no situation," Kiffin said before Tuesday's practice. "Nu'Keese was dealing with some issues Sunday -- some personal issues -- and Nu'Keese was (back) yesterday, and everything's fine."

Richardson seemed business as usual Tuesday, running routes and working with the return units.

Kiffin admitted that Richardson has been "frustrated" for various reasons, but he steadfastly denied rumors that the player recently thought about transferring closer to home.

"He's a little bit frustrated like a lot of freshmen around the country are, especially when you're potentially a really great player and have had a great success in high school, and you come in and things are different in college than high school," Kiffin said. "Nu'Keese will continue to develop. We'll continue to work with him, and he'll eventually be a really great player."

Asked if he expected more production from one of the nation's highest regarded recruits, Kiffin said, "Yeah, but I do that with everybody.

"We have extremely high expectations for all of our players, especially our freshmen as they get here. I think all of our freshmen that come in here are going to be Freshman All-Americans and are going to be great players for us. He's made a few plays for us. We haven't given him a ton of opportunities, but he's got to be more consistent in practice and do things better. He realizes that.

"This will be a big week of practice for him."

Richardson was not made available for comment Tuesday.

Vinson in for Johnson

Kiffin said former starting cornerback Brent Vinson will get a look at the nickel corner spot following senior Marsalous Johnson's recent thumb injury.

Johnson, who played well in that spot, had surgery on his thumb and will miss at least a "few" games, Kiffin said.

Vinson, one of the team's best athletes, started as a freshman and most of his sophomore season but struggled with several off-the-field issues. He also struggled on the field earlier this season and fell down the depth chart.

"Brent has not played on defense for us very much at all lately after the Ohio game," Kiffin said. "It's time to give him a shot again. He played well on special teams for us on Saturday."

Sullins' safe eyes

Senior left guard Cory Sullins said he's never had his eyes poked in a pile, as Florida's Brandon Spikes did to Georgia's Washaun Ealey on Saturday.

"Maybe it's happened while I've been in there and I've just never noticed it, but it's never happened to me," Sullins said. "One time in high school, I had somebody try to kind of break my ankle. A lot of stuff goes on in there.

"It was pretty funny to see that on TV. I've never seen it, personally. I haven't had somebody gouge my eyes out, but a lot of stuff goes on in the pile."

Closing notes

Kiffin said Daniel Lincoln's injured quad wasn't ready by Tuesday's practice, but the coach wasn't sure whether punter Chad Cunningham would fill in for Lincoln as the place-kicker for a second consecutive game.

Sophomore fullback Austin Johnson said he, Lincoln and walk-on linebackers Shane Reveiz and Jake Storey gave each other Mohawk haircuts Saturday while sitting around in "boredom" before the 7:45 p.m. game against South Carolina. Johnson said his mother has threatened to "whip" him if he doesn't shave it soon, but he's giving the hawk at least one more week after catching his first career touchdown pass against the Gamecocks.

Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.

about Wes Rucker...

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