Future is now for new Vols

Future is now for new Vols

August 31st, 2009 by Wes Rucker in Sports - College

KNOXVILLE -- The Future Four versus the Fab Five produced some of the University of Tennessee football team's biggest preseason football camp highlights.

Now the Volunteers need those freshmen defensive backs and offensive skill position players to translate that success to the season, because it sure seems like they will get that chance.

Safeties Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles Jr., and cornerbacks Mike Edwards and Eric Gordon nicknamed themselves the "Future Four."

"And all I can say is, 'Watch out for the future,'" Myles said Saturday afternoon.

Tailbacks Bryce Brown and David Oku, along with wide receivers Nu'Keese Richardson, Marsalis Teague and Zach Rogers, have been dubbed "Fab Five" by teammates.

"I thought that was a basketball term," Teague said. "But then I thought about it some more, and was like, 'OK, that's cool, we'll take it.'"

Injures to the team's top three returning receivers have forced Richardson, Teague and Rogers into the rotation, though at least Richardson probably would earned a spot, regardless.

The defensive back situation is different, though. The Vols had several veterans at arguably the team's deepest position, but Jackson and Edwards nonetheless played themselves into possible starting positions. Myles and Gordon, meanwhile, have likely earned meaningful playing time.

"What I like about all those guys is their confidence," junior backup quarterback Nick Stephens said. "They came in here being treated like everyone else, and they're really confident guys. They know they can play, and they know they can help this team, so I think that's nothing but a great thing for our team."

The freshmen still relish competing against each other, though. And those battles, they said, will only benefit the team for the next several years.

"We'll be sitting around in the dorm room just going on and on about it," Teague said. "Our whole freshman class, we're already really good friends, and we all talk about that stuff. We'll be in practice doing our 1-on-1s, and if we beat them, we'll celebrate, and they'll say, 'Good job.' And then they might make a good break on the ball and break it up, and we'll say, 'Good job.'

"It's all friendly competition up there."

Added Brown: "We're all excited about going against each other every day for a long time. I know I am. That's going to bring the best out of all of us."