published Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Excellent spring debut

<strong>Ooltewah grad Smith shares UT's Big Lick Award</strong>


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE -- Former Ooltewah defensive end star Jacquez Smith looks nothing like a kid who should still be in high school, and he didn't play like one this spring at the University of Tennessee.

Smith on Saturday was named one of the Volunteers' three "Big Lick Award" winners, which are given to the most physical players throughout spring practice.

Wide receiver Gerald Jones and young cornerback Eric Gordon shared the award with Smith, whose size, attitude and consistently solid performances surprised several coaches and teammates.

"For a freshman, wow, that boy is big," linebacker LaMarcus Thompson said. "He's going to be special. Look at his body already."

First-year UT head coach Derek Dooley echoed that praise of Smith, who came to UT as one of the South's most highly touted prospects and still exceeded early expectations.

"These midyear guys are just incredibly mature, but Jacquez played probably the most consistently of all those young cats," Dooley said. "He's a good, physical presence. He's got a great attitude and great character, and I've just been impressed with his consistency over 15 practices. That's not an easy thing to do, I'm telling you."

Smith, like all UT freshmen under Dooley, has not yet been made available to the media. The coach said he might make some freshmen available in certain situations during the season, if they made key contribution in games and had proven mature enough to handle media responsibilities.

Other awards

Left tackle Dallas Thomas, showered with praise from coaches and teammates all spring, was given the Harvey Robinson Award for biggest offensive surprise of the spring. Middle linebacker Austin Johnson, who played fullback his first two years at UT, was given the Andy Spiva Award for biggest defensive surprise.

Center Cody Pope and defensive end Willie Bohannon shared the John Stuckey Offseason Award for their commitments to the strength and conditioning program.

Thompson, tight end Luke Stocker, tailback Tauren Poole and safety Darren Myles Jr. split the Fourth Quarter Award for dedication and consistent commitment to the program.

'Veggie dogs'

Defensive tackle Montori Hughes from the victorious White team, always one of the team's biggest and most boisterous players, poked fun at Pope from the defeated Orange side moments after Saturday's final whistle.

As per pregame arrangements, the winning team enjoyed a steak dinner while the losers settled for hot dogs and potato chips.

Pope is a vegetarian -- or, more specifically, a pescatarian who does eat fish.

"Don't worry, baby, I got you," Hughes said. "I'll run to the store and get you some veggie dogs."

Pope simply smiled and took the ribbing.

"Hey, he won," Pope said. "I'd be saying something if I won."

Pope, who often cooks his own meals, said his parents were in town from Southern California and would ease his culinary woes temporarily.

"There's always a feast when they're in town," Pope said. "I can't wait."

Lathered up

Orange team middle linebacker Herman Lathers led the Vols with nine tackles. Cornerback Anthony Anderson added seven stops and sealed the game with his late fourth-quarter interception of Matt Simms.

Greg King, a young linebacker who missed much of spring practice with a knee injury, collected five tackles.

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

about Wes Rucker...

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