Vols Football: Butch Jones Talks Position Changes, Depth for Spring


Nov 22, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Vols head coach Butch Jones talks with the media following the game against the Missouri Tigers at Neyland Stadium. Missouri won 29-21. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones addressed the media Monday afternoon before the start of spring football practices on Tuesday, March 24. He spoke about expectations for the season and for his players, and he discussed some position changes and how the team will address limited depth at certain positions.

To begin with, several players will be held out of spring practices due to injuries or injury concern for the Vols. Derek Barnett, Jason Croom, Alex Ellis, Marcus Jackson, Jakob Johnson, Darrin Kirkland Jr., Danny O’Brien, Curt Maggitt, and Kyle Phillips will not practice during the spring. Jalen Hurd and Chance Hall will be limited as well.

That leaves the Vols with only 5 healthy defensive linemen and only Alvin Kamara as a fully healthy scholarship running back for the spring. The health concerns will alter how the team does spring practice, and Jones discussed that.

Jones said walk-on running back Jason Sparks will see time at running back because of limited depth in the spring. Jones also said there was “no new news” on the status of running back Treyvon Paulk, who was suspended from the team before last season began.

Dimarya Mixon played defensive tackle last season, but Jones says he’s “down to 260 lbs” and will permanently move to defensive end this year. Jones also stated that injured veteran defensive linemen will serve as additional coaches in the spring.

Trevor Daniel and George Bullock will get reps at punter for the Vols while they wait on freshman Tommy Townsend to arrive later this year.

Jones also stated that this spring will be big for the offensive line, specifically Dontavius Blair and Brett Kendrick. Jones is determined to move around players along the line until he and his staff find the best combinations for a starting five.

Neiko Creamer has officially been confirmed to have moved to tight end, and Jones says he and his staff will look to give Dillon Bates reps at middle linebacker. He also wants Bates to gain more weight to play that position better, as he stated Bates “is around the 230 lbs range” right now and would like to see him around 240 lbs to play at middle linebacker.