April 6, 2006
Coach Chavis talks about the defense | Coach Chavis on the O&W Game
Coach Cutcliffe talks about the OL and TE | Coach Cutcliffe on the WR, RB and QB
Chavis with Bob Kesling | Cutcliffe with Bob Kesling
Three Tennessee footballers -- one on offense and two on defense -- share the 2005 spring practice honors for most improved performers.
Junior lineman Steven Jones receives the Harvey Robinson Award given to offensive players, while senior Jonathan Wade and redshirt freshman Dan Williams split the Andy Spiva Award for most improved defenders. The trio will be recognized for their achievements during Saturday's EdAmerica Orange and White Game at Neyland Stadium.
Jones, a 6-4, 308-pounder from Brentwood, stands second on the depth chart at right tackle entering the offseason. He appeared in three games in 2004 and two last season.
"Steven has had a really good spring," offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe said. "From day one, even when we were out there in shorts, his demeanor was what you want in a football player. He has worked extremely hard and has continued to improve every week and every practice."
Wade, a two-sport star who also competes with the Vols' track and field squad as a sprinter, made seven starts at cornerback and intercepted two passes last season to complement his seven passes defensed. The 6-0, 195-pounder from Shreveport, La., returned one interception for a touchdown against Mississippi and nearly turned the trick against Georgia before being tackled at the 1-foot line.
"Jonathan probably has made his biggest step during this spring toward becoming a player that's going to give you the same level of play every day," defensive coordinator John Chavis said. "And that's what we look for. Jonathan's become a technician and understands better the fine details of his position."
Williams sat out a redshirt season last year after signing out of Memphis East High School. He stands 6-3, 310 pounds and is vying for playing time in 2005 along the defensive front.
"Dan hasn't taken a snap for us but really has come on and matured as a football player," Chavis said. "He is getting himself in a position where it looks like he can help us. He has worked hard and done a tremendous job getting himself in shape to play at this level."
The award winners, selected annually by the coaching staff, have been chosen at the conclusion of spring practice since 1979. They are named for Robinson, a former UT player (1929-32), assistant coach (1946-52, 1960-63) and head coach (1953-54), and for Spiva, the outstanding Vols linebacker from 1973-76.
COORDINATORS PRAISE EFFORT AS SPRING DRAWS TOWARD CLOSE
Tennessee's coordinators, John Chavis and David Cutcliffe, said Thursday that although spring practice is down to its final hours, much work remains if the 2006 Vols are to be ready for the coming season.
"We've got a lot of work that needs to be done," Chavis said. "We really need about three or four spring practices to get done what we need to get done but I like our effort."
Cutcliffe, who returned to the Vols during the offseason after spending six years as head coach at Mississippi and a brief tenure as a Notre Dame assistant, took time to thank the UT coaches for his welcome back to Knoxville.
"I have very much enjoyed working with this staff," Cutcliffe said. "The offensive staff is a group of very talented people. They are energetic and have worked hard trying to put all this together. And working against our defensive staff, I already knew these guys and knew how good they were. That's been challenging and good for us offensively.
"I can say this personally -- I'm having a lot of fun. It may not look like it at some of these scrimmages but I'm having a lot of fun."