Nov 23, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) tackles Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Patton Robinette (4) during the second quarter at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Today On Rocky Top: Vols Replacing Bulk Of Defensive Front

From The Times Free Press

When A.J. Johnson elected to return to Tennessee for his senior season instead of enter the NFL draft, it meant not only that the Volunteers were getting back a two-time All-SEC linebacker but also that they didn’t have to replace every starter from their front seven.

Heading into Butch Jones’s second season as coach, the Vols must replace their top five 2013 defensive linemen in production and plays. That means a handful of unproven players will have spring practice to distinguish themselves from the pack before as many as six freshman linemen arrive for the summer.

“I think it starts in the offensive and defensive lines,” Jones said last week, highlighting his biggest concerns heading into his second spring. “We lose a lot to graduation, so we’re going to be forced to play a lot of young players, and a lot of the players that will be playing next year aren’t even here yet and haven’t even enrolled.



It wasn’t long ago the Tennessee Volunteers were considered one of the nation’s elite programs, having earned a trip to a bowl game in every season from 1989-2004, including a perfect 1998 campaign en route to the BCS National Championship.

However, recent seasons haven’t been very kind to the Vols, especially since Phillip Fulmer (152-52 career record at the program) was relieved of his duties following the 2008 campaign. After Lane Kiffin bolted from his post for USC following the 2009 season, the program handed the reins over to Derek Dooley, who went just 15-21 before being fired in 2012.

The coaching carousel continued last offseason when the team introduced former Central Michigan and Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones as its new leader, and the first year of his regime was much of the same for the Vols, who finished under .500 (5-7) for the fourth consecutive season.



The Vols baseball team is ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time since 2007. Tennessee is off to its best start in program history at 10-0, coming off of a sweep of Quinnipiac over the weekend.

Will Maddox was named SEC Player of the Week after going 5-for-8 and batting .625. Friday he hit a three-run homer in the opener with the Bobcats.


From The Times Free Press

Conference basketball tournaments often give coaches the opportunity to preach about clean slates and forgetting about the past.

Not Tennessee’s Holly Warlick.

Warlick is hoping her Lady Volunteers can pick up where they left off when Tennessee begins Southeastern Conference tournament play Friday night against the winner of Thursday’s matchup between Alabama and LSU. The Lady Vols are the tournament’s second seed and are coming off Sunday’s 73-61 whipping of top-seeded South Carolina.

“It’s momentum for us,” Warlick said Monday. “That was tough game, and South Carolina is a solid, very well-coached and very good basketball team. They won the regular season, so we’re going to take that and use it as momentum that can follow us into the tournament. Hopefully we can stay as focused as we can.

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