published Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Nash Nance exiting UT

VOLS HEALTH REPORT


WR Justin Hunter: UT's star is almost four months removed from tearing ligaments in his left knee, but he's resumed running. "He's right on track and doing great," coach Derek Dooley said.

WR Da'Rick Rogers: The Vols' other star receiver had surgery last week on his right index finger. The rising junior will have pins removed from the digit in four weeks and be available for spring practice. "He really can't catch for another couple of months," Dooley said.

S Brent Brewer: Eight weeks out from a torn ACL suffered in October, the rising junior is off crutches, though he won't be available for spring practice.

OL Alex Bullard: The rising junior had postseason surgery to repair a little meniscus tear in his knee, but he's expected to be ready for spring practice.

LB Herman Lathers: It's been more than seven months since the rising senior gruesomely fractured his ankle and missed all of last season. "Herman's doing good," Dooley said. "He's full go. We'll see how that goes."

DT Allan Carson: The rising sophomore had his knee scoped and will be on crutches for another week, but he'll be back for spring practice.

RB Marlin Lane: The rising sophomore is expected back for spring practice following postseason knee surgery.

DL Marlon Walls: The rising junior had his knee scoped but will be ready for spring practice.

DB Prentiss Waggner, DT Daniel Hood and LB Curt Maggitt: The three players are still in slings following postseason shoulder surgeries. They'll be noncontact to certain degrees in spring practice.

KNOXVILLE -- Nash Nance is trading his Tennessee orange for the green of the Ivy League.

The former Calhoun (Ga.) High School quarterback was one of the handful of Volunteers who UT coach Derek Dooley announced Friday would not return to the program. Nance already had begun exploring options for his next step.

"We have asked for a transfer from Tennessee," Mike Nance, Nash's father, told the Times Free Press on Friday evening. "Nash has enjoyed his time there and has learned a lot practicing with an SEC team. He will remain in school through the spring term. Hopefully we will know more about where he will enroll in the coming days."

Mike and Nash Nance were officially visiting Harvard this weekend, and Mike said they are considering only Ivy League schools. His 6-foot-3, 208-pound son spent most of his UT career as the Vols' scout-team quarterback.

He tossed 29 touchdown passes for the Yellow Jackets as a senior before he and Calhoun receiver Da'Rick Rogers signed with UT in 2010.

EX-UT receivers DeAnthony Arnett (Michigan State) and Matt Milton (Louisville) already have landed at their transfer destinations. Dooley named three others players -- linebackers Martaze Jackson and Robert Nelson and defensive tackle Arthur Jeffery -- who would not return to the Vols.

"All for different reasons," Dooley said. "Some of it is family, some of it academic pursuits, some of it opportunity to play at other places, and we wish them well. We support them. We never like anybody to leave our program, but sometimes it's in their best interest and it's a good mutual parting of ways."

Offensive lineman JerQuari Schofield is in school, but the rising third-year junior not on the team because he has "a lot of work to do academically," Dooley said. Arnett's loss was the most significant, but Milton was the only player of the bunch who didn't take a redshirt year. Nelson and Jackson never appeared in any games, and Jeffery played in four games, all in 2010.

Before the attrition, UT was 18 scholarships under the NCAA's limit of 85. Including grayshirted 2011 defensive back signee Tino Thomas, the Vols' 2012 recruiting class stands at 20. Dooley paused momentarily when asked if UT would sign a full 25-player class.

"There's a good chance," he said, "but that number is always a moving target."

'Keep calling'

Dooley was persistent in his attempts to get a feel for Sam Pittman, the former North Carolina assistant who was hired Thursday as the Vols' offensive line coach. Pittman had no experience coaching in the SEC and lacked any prior connection to Dooley or offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, but Dooley heard enough while gathering information on Pittman.

"He comes extremely highly recommended from people I know and trust that have worked with him," he said. "I made more calls on him because nobody would give me anything bad. I'm like, 'Keep calling -- everybody has got something,' but he's just been so well respected throughout the years. I've had people call me unsolicited since we hired him.

"I think it was a deal where there weren't a lot of weaknesses. Good person, good football coach; the players loved him everywhere he's been and worked hard for him. He's an excellent recruiter."

Dooley said he doesn't expect much of a schematic learning curve or adjustment with Pittman, who spent the past five seasons with the Tar Heels alongside offensive coordinator John Shoop, with whom Dooley and Chaney previously were familiar.

"It's like Christmas morning on Rocky Top and Santa Claus is Coach Pittman," redshirt freshman offensive lineman Alan Posey wrote on his Twitter account Friday.

Carolina dreaming

Between Pittman and new running backs coach Jay Graham, the Vols hope to ramp up their recruiting efforts in North and South Carolina. Graham, the former UT tailback, was born in Concord, N.C., and joined Dooley's staff in December after three seasons at South Carolina.

"It's always been a focus area," Dooley said. "We haven't done as good of a job as we probably could have. Certainly given how loose it is and the history of the great players from those states, yeah, we need to do a little better job in there."

UT hasn't signed a player from North Carolina since 2008 (Austin Johnson and E.J. Abrams-Ward). The Vols have inked five players from South Carolina in the past three years: 2012 early enrollee Justin Meredith, Justin Worley and Pat Martin in 2011 and Corey Miller and Marques Pair in 2010.

"It's really good," said Graham, who was making his first media appearance since being hired. "It's good when you move as a coach that you can keep those same recruiting areas."

Status updates

UT's seven midterm enrollees have been added to the roster and given jersey numbers: athlete Cody Blanc (36), running back Alden Hill (30), tight end Justin Meredith (82), quarterback Nathan Peterman (12), Thomas (31) and defensive linemen Darrington Sentimore (94) and Trent Taylor (99). ... Dooley said the Vols are tweaking the "competitive component" to his team's offseason workout program, which begins Tuesday, in efforts of building a more unified team. ... Dooley called new athletic director Dave Hart "a tremendous resource" as he's worked through the complex process of replacing five assistant coaches.

about Patrick Brown...

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 ...

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