- Sophomore Linebacker AJ Johnson is causing a stir in Spring Practice, we knew the kid was good, but with a year of experience under his feet, Johnson is becoming a leader on the defense. ”He has a lot of confidence in his abilities,” Dooley said. “I don’t think the light ever came on schematically (last year), but he’s a football player. Good football players find their way to the ball when they’re on defense and that’s what he does.” Johnson was second on the Vols in tackles last year with 80 and garnered Freshman All-American honors.
- Dallas Thomas is willing to move to Guard to give Antonio “Tiny” Richardson a shot at starting at tackle. Thomas said “He just wanted to check it out,” and the move also gave Richardson, a sophomore, a chance to battle for a starting job next season.
- The Vols return a wealth of experience in the secondary, but there are plenty of players that will be battling for positions in the spring. Prentiss Waggner, Isaiah Lanier, Justin Coleman, and Marsalis Teague all have started at corner. Waggner led the team in interceptions last season with 5, but had to play some safety due to injuries and lack of depth. Lanier, a sophomore, struggled last season, but will probably win the starting job over Teague. Brian Randolph impressed many from the safety position in his freshman season and will look to build off that in his second year on Rocky Top, he’ll be accompanied by Brent Brewer, returning from an ACL injury and incoming freshman LaDarrel McNeil.
- Dooley was pleased with the second day of practice .
“Number one, you have to recognize it takes an incredible amount of mental energy and mental effort to be a good football player. That’s investing a lot of time when you’re not on the field.
The second thing that’s important – and I told the team this – is making sure you understand what is said and you’re not focused on how it’s said. In a practice, coaches are screaming. You’re hollering and you’re making mistakes. So many young players get affected by how the message is getting passed onto them and not what the message is.
The final thing is not getting frustrated. I think a lot of these guys who are new out here are getting frustrated by the mistakes. They can’t get frustrated. You have to learn a little bit every day. The cumulative effect over time is going to pay dividends for them. That’s all a work in progress. It was a good second day. The more important thing is we’ll have a better feel for our team come Thursday when we put the pads on.”