KNOXVILLE — Tennessee began its last week of spring football practice on Tuesday with one of its former head coaches in attendance at least briefly.
Former Volunteers coach Phillip Fulmer, who led Tennessee to its last national championship in 1998 and whose 16th and final season at the helm was 2008, watched early portions of Tuesday afternoon's practice.
When Fulmer returned for a practice visit last September the week of Tennessee's game against South Alabama, it was his first time back on campus since his emotional firing in 2008, and he's been more visible around the program since current coach Butch Jones took over.
Fulmer was hired earlier this year as a special assistant to help East Tennessee State relaunch its football program, and he will will go on a tour of the Middle East next week with former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum as part of the United Services Organization's celebrity entertainment program.
As for the current Vols, Tuesday's practice was the first of three this week leading up to Saturday's Orange and White Game. Here are some notes and observations from Tuesday:
• Jones laid down the motto for the day as Tennessee went into its stretching period. "We have to maximize everyone on this field!" the coach bellowed. In sync with his other themes of the day, Jones called today's practice "Maximize Tuesday."
• The open viewing included a rare team period, in which there were about four jet sweeps in maybe 10 or so plays. Clearly the goal was to test Tennessee's sideline-to-sideline speed, and the first-team defense did much better in that regard, keeping receivers Marquez North, Von Pearson and Josh Malone contained pretty well. Johnathon Johnson and Devrin Young got loose for nice gains against the second-reamers.
• Justin Worley was the quarterback with the first-team, but his only pass was a screen to Marlin Lane, and the senior threw it at the tailback's feet.
• Riley Ferguson got the second-team reps and threw a sharp pass into a bit of a tight window to freshman tight end Daniel Helm on a crossing pattern. Helm caught the pass with a defender right behind him and took a solid shot from JaRon Toney shortly after catching it. Good throw and catch.
• Jordan Williams continues to get more looks inside at defensive tackle. Curt Maggitt is working almost exclusively at defensive end -- though he stood up as an end on one play during the team period -- and Corey Vereen is manning the other spot. The Vols like what Williams can do, and he will be on the field in pass-rushing situations for sure.
• Freshman Jakob Johnson continues to work at defensive end as well, as he began to do last week. The linebackers with the second-team defense were Kenny Bynum, freshman Neiko Creamer and walk-on Colton Jumper, a former Baylor School standout. Reminder: Tennessee has a few linebackers it likes arriving this summer.
• Jumper also was with the first-team kick return group. Young was the returner, with Toney the other deep man. The rest of that unit, if you're interested: Helm, fellow freshman tight end Ethan Wolf, Bynum, defensive end LaTroy Lewis, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, tailback Alden Hill and safeties LaDarrell McNeil and Lemond Johnson.
• Tennessee broke out the three-man weave for the first time this spring, complete with the Harlem Globetrotters music and everything. Jones yelled at his team that it was "not a jack around session," though. The Vols did that often in practice last year.
• During their specialists period, the Vols had their punt returners catch punts while holding a tennis ball in each hand. There were only a couple of muffed kicks, though. Young, Malone and cornerbacks Cam Sutton and freshman Emmanuel Moseley were the ones handling that tricky task.
• Personnel notes: Jalen Hurd did not have his bulky elbow brace on during practice. Safety Geraldo Orta, who didn't scrimmage Saturday, did have one on, though. Fellow safety Devaun Swafford, another non-participant on Saturday, was in a non-contact jersey. Offensive lineman Austin Sanders, a former Bradley Central standout, was back at practice in a non-contact jersey. Defensive end Jaylen Miller, who missed about a week, was practicing again.
More practice coverage online and in Wednesday's Times Free Press.
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 ...