Vols coach Butch Jones takes a look at big Charles Mosley on offense

Vols coach Butch Jones takes a look at big Charles Mosley on offense

April 22nd, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Shy Tuttle (2), and Charles Mosley (78) participate in practice Tuesday at Haslam Field in Knoxville.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE -- You could forgive Kyler Kerbyson if he breathed a sigh of relief as Tennessee's football team took to Haslam Field for practice Tuesday afternoon.

The fifth-year senior offensive tackle no longer had to go up against the biggest guy on the team.

Charles Mosley, here going up against Mack Crowder in a drill earlier this month, joined Crowder on the offensive line in Tuesday's practice.

Charles Mosley, here going up against Mack Crowder...

Photo by Patrick Brown /Times Free Press.

That player was on Kerbyson's side now.

In a position experiment head coach Butch Jones alluded to not long after the Volunteers began spring practice in late March, redshirt freshman Charles Mosley made the move from defensive tackle to offensive guard Tuesday as Tennessee continues its search for a permanent home for the big man.

"I didn't have 360 pounds to move, which was good," Kerbyson joked after practice. "We like him on our side. Me and (fellow offensive tackle) Dontavius Blair were saying, 'Thank God I don't have to go down (to block) him and try to get him out of the hole.'

"It's great, and it's great for him to be able to come over with us and get some good work in, and maybe be able to fight for a spot."

How long Mosley will last on offense is uncertain. He'll go back to the defensive side of the ball for Saturday's Orange and White Game.

UT's Kyler Kerbyson, left, and Ethan Wolf celebrate with Justin Worley, center, after his touchdown carry against Arkansas State in this Sept. 6, 2014, file photo.

UT's Kyler Kerbyson, left, and Ethan Wolf celebrate...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

"We moved Charles Mosley," Jones explained, "just to see what Charles could give us. Very, very productive day. He will play defensive line in the spring game, but we wanted to get some stuff on video and continue to evaluate what is his best position. Just like Charles, he just wants to help the team win and play any position that he can possibly play."

The 6-foot-5 Mosley, a former four-star recruit who shaved Tennessee's Power T logo and an orange-and-white checkerboard pattern into his hair to announce his pick of the Vols in 2014, spent all of spring practice at defensive tackle after missing all of last season with a broken leg suffered in a July car accident.

He's essentially a true freshman, and he's still not fully healthy, but he's worked nearly every repetition this spring, much to Mosley's credit.

The Vols like his blend of size and athletic ability for a player of his size, but while there are some natural traits that look good, Mosley remains a bit of a project whether he plays on offense or defense.

"He's learning. He's going through a process right now," defensive coordinator John Jancek said earlier this month. "He's got to figure out how to sustain his effort and practice hard. He's got a lot of fundamental and technique things that he's just behind at. But he's in there and he's working. It's going to be a process for him.

University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones talks about the 2015 recruitment class on National Signing Day on Feb. 4, 2015, in Knoxville.

University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones talks...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

"He looks rusty. He looks really raw. But he's a big body in there. We need him in there right now, so we're going to keep working with him. He'll continue to get better."

Based on need, Mosley probably would stick at defensive tackle. He's gotten second-team work there behind Kendal Vickers, freshman Shy Tuttle and Owen Williams, when he's been available, but the comeback of returning starter Danny O'Brien from injury and the arrival of five-star freshman Kahlil McKenzie probably would push Mosley further down the pecking order.

The competition on the offensive line already has increased this spring.

At center, Coleman Thomas is trying to usurp returning starter Mack Crowder's job. Austin Sanders has performed well at guard in the absence of Marcus Jackson. Blair and incoming freshman Drew Richmond figure to push presumed starters Kerbyson and Brett Kendrick.

Freshmen Jack Jones and Chance Hall have made positive early impressions, and two other freshmen are coming.

"It makes you better," Kerbyson said. "I know when I was younger, we always used to be like, 'We're the competition for the older guys.' And it made them better. Now I feel like the competition coming up on my rear is making me better. I'm taking it in stride.

"I'm not trying not to teach Blair because he's competing against me. I'm trying to make him as good as he can be. I'm trying to coach him up and make him better. I want that for him. It really is a great atmosphere now that we have some depth."

Whether Mosley will add to that, both in the short and long term, remains to be seen. For however long it lasts, though, Tennessee's offensive linemen are glad he's on their side.

"It's good to stop blocking him. He's a big boy," Kendrick said. "He's learning a lot. You could tell, even after just one day, how much he's grown and how smart he really is.

"It's going to take some adjusting to, but he's a guy (with) a lot of natural ability. Just the way he moves, his punch, he's got a great punch and he's got good feet for a big guy."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.