published Friday, March 7th, 2014

Tennessee football practice report: Vols open spring

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee opened spring practice on a picturesque Friday afternoon in Knoxville

The first of 15 workouts over the next month provided a first look at coach Butch Jones's second team, including the 14 newcomers who enrolled in January as part of the Volunteers' touted 2014 recruiting class.

Here some some notes and observations from the opening viewing period on Friday:

*Justin Worley took the first-team reps at quarterback during a period where the 11-man offense drives down the field on air to improve on its tempo and pace. Marlin Lane was the tailback with the first group, and the receivers were Marquez North, Jason Croom and junior college transfer Von Pearson, who is working in the slot spot in the absence of Pig Howard.

*Pearson wasn't the only newcomer with the first group. Freshman Ethan Wolf was the first tight end on the field, with fellow freshman Daniel Helm running with the second unit. Brendan Downs and A.J. Branisel are out with injuries, and walk-on Alex Ellis, who was in the mix to play prior to an injury last season, worked with a trainer on the side of practice.

*Tennessee is replacing its entire offensive line, and here's the first five to trot out in that team period on Friday (from left to right): Dontavius Blair, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson and Coleman Thomas. Blair, the JuCo transfer, and Thomas, an impressive freshman from Virginia, are both newcomers.

*Quarterback Riley Ferguson redshirted last season largely because of a fractured tibia suffered in mid-season, and he still has a sleeve on his right lower leg. He even pulled out of a drill momentarily favoring that leg.

*Josh Dobbs led the second group at quarterback during the team period. Jalen Hurd, the five-star tailback recruit, was with that group to start their "march" down the field, as was five-star receiver recruit Josh Malone.

*Devrin Young, the junior from Knoxville, is working with the tailbacks, though he'll still play some at receiver. He's the kind of player Tennessee's staff would like to move around in the offense.

*The following players caught punts during Tennessee's special teams period: cornerback Cam Sutton, receiver Jacob Carter, tailback Marlin Lane, freshman wideout Josh Malone, Young and Pearson.

*The following players caught kickoffs during that same special teams period: North, Hurd, Malone, defensive backs Riyahd Jones, Devaun Swafford and JaRon Toney, tailback Justus Pickett, and freshman cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and D'Andre Payne.

*One quick thing on Moseley: he is noticeably fast. He still needs to fill out his No. 12 jersey, though. But his speed easily jumps out at you.

More practice coverage online and in Saturday's Times Free Press.

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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