Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley talks to the media during the Southeastern Conference football media days on Friday, July 23, 2010, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)
HOOVER, Ala. — Bryce Brown was in Knoxville on Friday, but even Tennessee coach Derek Dooley claimed not to know how long the talented young tailback would stay.
Brown, who came to the Volunteers as the No. 1 prospect in the nation and accumulated 597 rushing yards and four touchdowns as a freshman last year, skipped spring practice and hasn’t worked out with the team this summer. He has been contemplating a transfer but hasn’t announced definitive plans.
“I have not met with Bryce. I promise you, I haven’t met with him,” Dooley said Friday morning at SEC media days. “There’s nothing new — which shocks you, I know. He was in town when I was leaving. I anticipate us talking before he leaves town.
“I feel the same way that I felt since he left, that he’s not a part of our team. The only reason this is dragging is because he hasn’t told me he wants a release to a certain school, and he’s never told me he wants to come back.
“At some point, he’s going to have to ask for a release — which I expect will be soon. That’s where we are.”
Dooley again refused to rule out Brown’s return, but he tempered his response with a reminder of the many obstacles still in play.
“It’s no different than what I said several months ago,” Dooley said. “It starts with (whether) he wants to return with his heart in it the right way, and if his teammates would embrace him back. I’m sure they (would), because we’ve talked about it.
“We’ll have to go one step at a time, but I think all that’s premature, because I still don’t plan on him being on our team.”
UT senior tight end Luke Stocker said the team would welcome Brown back, as long as he was committed to the team.
“As far as Bryce goes, when he gets back, he’ll be welcome as well,” Stocker said. “But he’s missed a lot, and he’ll have to earn his stripes back. But he’ll be welcome back, as long as he puts forth the work and effort to be a good teammate.”
Stocker was asked whether his words indicated Brown’s return was a sure thing. He said it wasn’t.
“I heard he was coming in town, and then I heard he wasn’t coming in town, but then somebody today told me he was in town,” Stocker said. “This is like an ongoing riddle. Who knows what Bryce Brown is going to do next?”
Asked if he now understood what it felt like to be Brett Favre’s teammate, Stocker laughed and said, “I guess. Gee whiz.”
“I just hope Bryce makes the best decision for his family and himself,” Stocker added.
Stocker said he was glad when Dooley approached the team about possibly allowing Brown back with the team.
“We’re a family, and Coach Dooley doesn’t make a decision without talking to his family,” he said. “No family buys a house without talking to everybody about it. He definitely knows how close we are as a team, and the chemistry we’ve built together as a team. He doesn’t want to bring someone in that we feel like is going to mess up that chemistry.”
Reveiz fully back
Reveiz, who tore his ACL in the fourth game last season but returned for full contact late in spring practice, said he was finally back to 100 percent.
“I feel as good as I’ve felt since right before I got hurt,” said Reveiz, who will battle converted fullback Austin Johnson for the starting middle linebacker position. “I’m feeling good. It’s been great, as far as summer training has been going. I haven’t been held out of anything. It’s been really nice.
“There’s been plenty of times (during rehab) when I’ve been worried, but it’s one of those things I can’t control. I can’t control what’s going on inside of my knee. I can only control how I feel and maintenance — icing it down and stuff like that and pushing. It’s up to God, and God’s going to take care of me.”
Bray stands tall
Stocker stayed away from predicting UT’s starting quarterback, or even stating a personal preference between junior college transfer Matt Simms and freshman Tyler Bray.
The tight end praised the virtues of both quarterbacks. One of Bray’s biggest assets, according to Stocker, is height.
“Bray’s 10 feet tall, I think,” Stocker said. “Simms is more average height ... but they both have great upside.”
Bray actually is somewhere between 6-foot-6 and 6-7. He certainly doesn’t tower over the 6-6 Stocker.