That University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wide receiver C.J. Board performed well Saturday wasn’t a surprise to anyone. The redshirt freshman from Clarksville has started preseason practice as well as anyone, and his performance in the fourth session was a continuation of what he’d been doing.
Still, multiple long touchdown catches from quarterback Jacob Huesman and one highlight-worthy diving catch during a third-down series certainly caught everyone’s attention.
“I knew C.J. was going to be a big-time player for us after seeing him this summer,” the quarterback said. “He’s pretty electrifying.”
“He showed up big-time today,” UTC coach Russ Huesman said.
Board had a good spring and worked hard with the quarterbacks and receivers this summer. He said the work in the summer has made a big difference, though he was rather modest about Saturday’s performance.
“It was a good day, but I can do better and get better each and every day,” he said.
The Mocs are looking to add depth and variety to their passing game. So far in camp, the passing game has been productive. Along with returning receivers Terrell Robinson and Tommy Hudson, Board and true freshman Xavier Borishade have made plays in the short game and as deep threats.
“We’ve had good effort, we’ve had some guys show up that I was hoping would show up, and now we’ve just got to keep it going,” receivers coach Will Healy said Friday. “We’ve done a good job lining up, and I feel like we know the offense pretty well. When we have chances to make plays, when we’re going to take shots [down field], we’ve got to make a play.”
The wideouts had some drops Friday but caught almost everything within reach Saturday.
“The wide receivers are getting better and better every day,” senior cornerback Chaz Moore said. “They’re giving us a challenge every day, and that’s making us better. Today they caught a lot of deep balls.”
Board got behind the defense a couple of times for touchdowns, but his best play was a quick-reaction, diving catch.
“We think he’s going to have a great career for us,” Coach Huesman said.
Preseason All-Southern Conference strong safety D.J. Key has practiced once so far due to a bone bruise in his left foot that is taking a while to heal. Backup free safety Dean Haynes suffered an ankle injury midway through the first day of practice and could miss the first two games, Coach Huesman said.
Starting free safety Zach McCarter, who had right knee surgery after last season, tweaked the knee late in Saturday’s practice and sat out the final periods. Huesman said McCarter will be evaluated, but he didn’t think it was anything serious.
Senior C.J. Murrell has been filling in for Key, and redshirt freshman Cedric Nettles took over for McCarter with the first team Saturday.
“Cedric is pretty athletic and you hope that he’s going to be really, really solid as a backup,” Huesman said. “It’s good that we’re getting some young kids some snaps in there, but D.J. and Zach should be ready to go.”
Backup tight end Jarrod Coleman is taking some time away from the team for personal reasons, Huesman said. Coleman played in every game last season as a redshirt freshman, primarily on special teams. “It’s his decision to step away,” Huesman said. … The Mocs will practice in full pads for the first time today.
<em>Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.</em>