April 16, 2009
Two Tennessee football players hoping to make an impact in head coach Lane Kiffin's debut season have earned most improved spring practice honors.
Senior wide receiver Quintin Hancock takes home the Harvey Robinson Award given to offensive player, while junior defensive end Chris Walker receives the Andy Spiva Award as most improved defensive stalwart.
Hancock, a 6-3, 207-pounder from St. Augustine, Fla., played in 12 games last season. Included was his first career start in the finale against Kentucky. But his performance at wide receiver this spring has been impressive.
"Quintin has done a fantastic job for us," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "From the first practice at 6 a.m.'s to right now, that young man has been into exactly what we're trying to do as far as effort and physical play. He's done a marvelous job.
"We can turn on that tape every day and he indicates by his actions that he understands what we want to get done. He flies around the football field, he shows up day-in and day-out and he plays football the way we want. We're really pleased with how Quintin's done it."
This isn't Hancock's first moment in the spotlight.
It was against back in 2007 that he turned in his most famous moment to date in a Vols uniform. Hancock's 40-yard touchdown reception in the fourth overtime of Tennessee's 52-50 victory likely stands as the NCAA record for longest scoring play in overtime history.
On the defensive side, Walker has caused the word "unblockable" to be a familiar adjective when describing his ability to reach the opposition backfield.
"He's a very explosive player," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "You noticed in the off-season workouts, 6 o'clock in the morning, he was there every day, never late and working hard.
"But then to see him go on the field and do it, to put it into football perspective and be the player that you're looking for -- he's got all the intangibles. He's got a great future."
Walker played in 11 games last season, contributing 15 tackles and two forced fumbles. Four of those tackles were for a combined 22 lost yards, including three sacks for minus-19.
"I think Coach O (Orgeron) has done a great job with him. He has the ability, but he's 235 pounds. There are defensive ends around the conference or in college football that are bigger, but he plays awfully strong for 235. I think he does it with his hands; he's so good with his hands. And he's got the great quickness to get off the blocks of a big offensive tackle."
SATURDAY'S SCORING SYSTEM
The best of Tennessee's offense will go head-to-head against the best of its defense Saturday's when the DISH Network Orange and White Game kicks off at 3 p.m. from Neyland Stadium.
Look for the defense in the home orange jerseys and manning the east sideline, with the offense wearing the road whites on the west side.
The scoring system for the game will be normal scoring for the offense -- touchdowns, field goals, etc. The defense is going to earn three points for a defensive stop, such as ball turned over on downs or a missed field goal; five points will be credited for a forced turnover; and seven points will be credited for a defensive touchdown.