KNOXVILLE -- The number of healthy receivers had diminished to three.
That forced Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley to do something he couldn't have done last season: Move two cornerbacks to the offense.
Friday morning, Anthony Anderson and Naz Oliver traded in their orange practice jerseys for the white ones offensive players wear, as the Volunteers pulled a couple of players from a deeper secondary pool to the evaporating puddle at receiver.
"We're not deep as it is [at receiver]," Dooley said. "We've got injuries with Zach [Rogers], injuries with DeAnthony [Arnett] -- nothing major but little stuff. We've got a lot of guys in the secondary, and so naturally when you're short in an area, you say who on that board has the skill sets to help us that we can afford to help us.
"Anthony, in particular, has a lot of good athleticism, he played it in high school but he also brings a nice senior presence into that room. We've got a young room in there. Our oldest guy is Zach, and he doesn't talk. The next-oldest guys are true sophomores [Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers]. We've got a lot of youth in there. I think Anthony will help us."
The oft-injured Rogers has been limited all week with a deep triceps bruise, freshman Arnett sat out his first practice with soreness and fatigue in his hamstring, Matt Milton sat out after taking a big hit Thursday and walk-on Antonio Jones has been out for more than a week.
Anderson, a fifth-year senior who also is a finalist for the Vols' punt-returner spot, played receiver at Knoxville's Austin-East High School and led the Vols in special-teams tackles and made 26 tackles with one interception last season. Oliver redshirted in 2009 and missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery.
"Hopefully one day I'll be the greatest to ever play ... for one year," Anderson said jokingly. "Looking at the playbook looked like Japanese language, seeing all the zig-zags and everything. They made it as simple as possible on the first day.
"I'm here to compete for a spot. I tell Justin and Da'Rick all the time, 'I'm not here just to be behind you; I'm here to compete for your spot and make you better.'"
Dooley is hopeful that Anderson, who's stuck around through all of the program's turmoil during his career, can bring some stability and experience to the position.
"Great character, team football player, loves Tennessee, and that's easier said than done because we're all selfish by nature," Dooley said. "When a baby is hungry, he cries, because all he's thinking about is 'I need some milk.' You take a toy away from a baby, he cries and gets mad because he's not thinking about sharing. He's thinking, 'I want my toy.' You have to beat out that self-absorbed trait that we all are born with.
"Anthony has none of that; it's a real tribute to his character."
UT's third scrimmage is this afternoon, and though Dooley generally treats it purely as a situational scrimmage, the Vols will incorporate some normal play into it.
"It's easy," Dooley said, "to sit there and tell them, 'This is how you handle it when the clock's running and there's 42 seconds and we don't get the first down, this is what you do.' But until you get out there, every situation is unique. Knowing when to hurry, when to get out of bounds, when to stay in bounds, what happens next after a penalty -- it takes a lot. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of teaching."
The Vols will run 20 normal plays followed by 25-30 plays of situational work.
"I just think we need plays," Dooley said. "I think this scrimmage is very important because what we don't look good at in this scrimmage, we've got about two days to try and get a little better in those areas."
The Vols will have their mock game Wednesday, which is essentially a walk-through of the gameday routine.
Ayres gets scholarship
Defensive tackle Joseph Ayres has earned a one-year scholarship. The redshirt sophomore and former McCallie School player got in 12 games last season and figures to hold a spot in the Vols' rotation this year.
"Last year I told him if he was in the two-deep rotation, we'd put him on [scholarship] next year," Dooley said. "He's earned it and he's deserved it. I always try to reward walk-ons. We've put on [scholarship] a lot of walk-ons since I've been here."
The Vols put senior linebackers Shane Reveiz and Jake Storey on scholarship during the summer.
Tailback/receiver Rajion Neal, tailback Tom Smith and linebacker Greg King missed Friday's practices with various knee ailments.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...