UT Vols receiver Cody Blanc will miss season

UT Vols receiver Cody Blanc will miss season

August 6th, 2014 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee defensive back Justin Coleman, right, intercepts a pass meant for Cody Blanc during a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee receiver Cody Blanc will miss the 2014 season after rupturing the Achilles' tendon in his right foot during the Volunteers' first preseason practice last Friday.

Second-year coach Butch Jones confirmed the diagnosis following Tuesday's practice.

"We got the results back," Jones said. "It's the Achilles' tendon, and it's torn. He'll miss this year."

The 6-foot-3, 203-pound junior played in 11 games as a freshman after signing with the Vols out of Knoxville's Central High School in 2012, and he caught just one pass -- a 43-yarder in the second quarter at Alabama -- and started against South Carolina last season.

Tennessee also expects freshman defensive tackle Charles Mosley to miss the season after he suffered a broken left tibia in a car accident in July. He is back in Knoxville and watched Tuesday's practice while hobbling around the practice field on crutches.

Devaun's big dreams

At one point, Devaun Swafford wasn't sure he was going to be part of Tennessee's football team for the 2013 season.

The Vols' new staff had flipped Malik Foreman, his teammate at Kingsport's Dobyns-Bennett High School, from his commitment to Vanderbilt, and his "initial agreement" with Tennessee was for Swafford to grayshirt and join the program the following January.

Instead, he decided to join the Vols as a walk-on and shortly thereafter found himself taking an interception back 62 yards for a touchdown at Florida and running a blocked punt back for a score against Georgia in addition to starting two games.

"I always hoped for the best," Swafford said. "I dream about big plays all the time. I was just blessed enough to have the opportunity to make those plays, and I ran with it."

Now the 5-11, 184-pound Swafford is on scholarship and working with Tennessee's first-team defense at safety after playing nickelback last season.

"It was a big accomplishment," he said. "I've been working hard all my life, and I kind of figured I could compete with the best. I came here as a walk-on and then tried to earn my way and finally earned it."

Swafford was at the beach earlier this summer when Vols cornerback Cam Sutton sent him a congratulatory text message. He hopped on Twitter and saw that Jones had awarded him a scholarship. The coach actually met with Swafford privately in his office previously to tell him he was going on scholarship.

"He kind of played a little bit of a joke on me. Then he told me at the end," Swafford said. "I can't remember honestly, but he had me on edge. When he told me, I was relieved."

Swafford's days as a starting safety may be numbered considering the number of freshmen the Vols brought in at that position, but for now, it's his spot to lose.

"Swafford brings it every day, and we're going to need him on special teams," Jones said. "He's continuing to evolve in terms of his football intelligence. We've asked a lot of him.

"Here's a young man that didn't play much defensive back in high school, and here he is, your starting nickel in games. He's done a great job, and we really need him to step up, especially in our special teams game.

Wharton quick learner

Tennessee's coaches have been impressed with how freshman slot receiver Vic Wharton has performed early in preseason practice, and it's especially noteworthy considering he arrived in late May.

Receivers coach Zach Azzanni said Sunday he's not had a freshman come in and have solid starting practices like the 5-11, 192-pounder did, and Wharton credited his teammates with getting him prepared.

"They did a great job taking me under their wing," he said. "All the receivers did -- not just one guy, every single one of them. Just having me come in, it's been awesome being able to learn from them and learn everything that Coach Z wanted just by being here all summer."

Freshman Josh Malone and junior college transfer Von Pearson both arrived in January and went through spring practice, but Wharton, who could also factor in the return game, appears to have caught up quickly.

"I was just trying to do whatever they told me to do," he said. "Our competitiveness is a good competitiveness. Everyone's teaching each other. Von and I play the same position, but he's still teaching me everything I need to know, and that's awesome by him. All we're supposed to do is just teach each other."

Azzanni said he's "really, really happy" with Wharton, and Jones called him a "great addition" to the team.

"He's going to make us better," Jones said.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.