#VolReport: Wharton Impresses From Start
Aug. 5, 2014

Here are sound bites from Team 118 after practice


"I do, not just at the linebacker position and that is really where we challenged our team. We talk about power of the position but really it is power of the team. A.J. Johnson needs to get around the offensive players, he needs to get around the secondary, he needs to get around the quarterbacks. And we have challenged our entire team, particularly our older players to be able to do that. The great addition that we have now is Smokey's, it is a tribute to the vision here with Dave Hart and the administration because to me those are the little things that people don't see. That is where your team bonds, that is where they come together, you go downstairs, you eat together, you have a first-class facility now with great food. Our players stay there and they hang out with each other. I always watch where they sit and A.J. is one of those individuals, he never sits at the same spot all the time. It is about building those relationships."

"Josh is playing with a very high level of confidence right now. He is blocking, he is playing physical and he is making catches and he is making plays for his. So I have been exceptionally pleased with him. Josh is one of those individuals, he doesn't say to much, he just comes to work each and every day. So far I have been very, very proud of him and I know Coach Z [Azzanni] is excited about him."


"In high school, you get away with things without having technique and just off your athleticism but now you have to have technique. You have to have habits. That's what Coach Z teaches us."

"Our competitiveness is a good competitiveness. Everyone is teaching each other. Von and I play the same position, but he's still teaching me everything I need to know. That's all we are supposed to do, teach other. I'm just trying to CCT right now. Catch-tuck-turn."


"Coach G is going to push you. He's going to cheer for you when you do good but at the same time, he's going to give you that correction when you mess up. You know what to expect from Coach G. He's going to be the same person Monday through Sunday and you have to take it and roll with it. He's going to help you be the best you can be."

"I'm very proud of Vic. You know, he's out there and it's not the easiest playing under Coach Azzanni. He has a high standard and again, Vic's a freshman. But that's not phasing him. He's making plays and he's there helping open up the run game. I've known Vic for a while and I'm just really proud of how he's playing right now."


"We try to get after it every once in a while. He's doing great as a true freshman right now and starting right now. He's great competition and I give him a hard time all the time. He worked his butt off in the workouts over the summer and you can see now, with before and after pictures, just how big he has gotten. He's in the No. 1 spot and that shows you he's been working. I believe in that."

"Josh is a phenomenal athlete. He's doing good and he's pushing through. He's just got to get through camp. It's his first year and camp is not fun for your freshman year but he's fighting. He's being a big time player and I'm just proud of him."


"It was a big advantage because in the spring I was learning the plays but now I have the plays down and I can move faster. If you're a 4-3 guy and you don't know the plays, you're really not a 4-3 guy. When you know the plays, you can attack. It's way better."c

"Coach expects more out of me. I can't make a lot of mistakes like I did in the spring, which I really like because that keeps me high and complacent."


"It's a big accomplishment. I've been working hard all of my life and I figured that I could compete with the best, so I came here as a walk-on and then tried to earn my way. I finally earned it."

"He's a tough guy. He's coming with the boom. He's physical and uses his hands real well. I knew once he got some weight on him and some more strength he was going to be hard to handle."


"Definitely Von Pearson. He's improving a lot. As long as he keeps working, I think he's going to be very helpful to us. All of the wide receivers are improving. They're great players."

"Very competitive, especially with all of the new guys coming in. We have a lot of competition, speed, ball skills, and toughness out there. So it's a lot of different competition out there and it helps us."


It's a lot of competition, and we're deep. We all know what we're doing, and the young guys are learning what to do. And they're catching on pretty fast, too.

"Definitely. The word on my bus is "dog mentality." I'm just going out there and playing with an edge."

Photo Gallery | Coach Jones Transcript

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Vic Wharton has been impressive in every way during his association with the University of Tennessee.

What started as the first commitment that Butch Jones received as head coach at UT on Christmas Day 2012 and continued as Wharton spent the next year helping Jones and his staff assemble a top-5 recruiting class by getting his fellow legacy players in orange has continued to manifest itself o the practice field through summer workouts and in the opening days of fall camp.

Wharton's on-field contributions have impressed wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, quite the task considering the laundry list of talented receivers he's had under his tutelage in previous stops at Wisconsin, Florida and Central Michigan, among others.

"I've been doing this a long time and as far as habits, how we do things, I have not every had a freshman come in and have a first day practice, second day practice like Vic Wharton had," Azzanni said. "As far as not having to get him going, as far as habits that we worked on last year, which tells you that our guys did a heck of a job over the summer with him, helping him. He's done really well, I'm really happy with Vic."

Azzanni knows talent at the position when he sees it. His list of pupils includes Brian Anderson and Antonio Brown at Central Michigan, a duo that combined for 49 touchdowns and over 6,500 career yards. Brown went on to start for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV and was a Pro Bowl selection the following season in 2011.

Wharton knew what Azzanni's expectations would be coming in, knowing the history of wideouts he had coached and the legacy of playing at Wide Receiver U.

"That's just our mindset being receivers, always being competitive," Wharton said after the first day in pads. "It's a fight every day. That's what Coach Z teaches, and that's what every receiver always does. You can't be part of WRU without being competitive."

What he sees in Wharton is the attitude and effort to be the best, even this early in the process.

"He's a great kid, he has a great mentality, he doesn't get down," Azzanni said. "I can get on his rear end, he likes hard coaching, he wants to get better. He's had a really good three days."

Wharton understood Azzanni's mentality immediately thanks to some veteran teammates.

"I would say our older guys this summer," said Wharton in reference to understanding his style. "They did a great job taking me under their wing. All of the receivers did, not just one guy, just every single one of them did. Just having me come in, it has just been awesome being able to learn from them and just learn everything that Coach Z wanted just by being here this summer."


There was no way to sugar-coat Monday's practice. As Head Coach Butch Jones informed the media, he didn't feel any players had earned the right to represent the University of Tennessee following their practice performance. Today was a different tune.

"I saw it at 7:30 a.m. this morning in meeting," said Jones. "They were focused and interactive. I liked their overall approach today. It was a great practice in some heat and our guys responded. I was pleased with the way they fought through it and attacked the day."

In the team's first day of full pads, senior running back/receiver Devrin Young also noticed the change in atmosphere while giving praise to Jones for being a true leader.

"Everything that Coach Jones says, we take to heart because we know that he's speaking from the heart," said Young. "We know that he cares about us and he wants us to win. Guys came out full speed. Everybody was hitting, everybody was making plays on both sides of the ball and turned things around today."

Yesterday's post-practice speech also hit home for the underclassmen, many of whom are being exposed to the standards that come with representing the University of Tennessee not only in the eyes of Coach Jones, but their senior teammates as well.

"Some of the younger players know that they're going to have to play and they're going to have to perform at a high level really early for us," said Young. "There are not a lot of veterans but at the same time, everybody is close. The older guys are helping the younger guys and everybody is sticking together. Yeah, there's a difference in age and experience but we're all in this together. That's just our focus."


Freshmen defensive back Emmanuel Moseley who was an early enrollee for the program is a true product of the success of Dave Lawson's strength and conditioning regimen.

With the help of Lawson and sports nutritionist Allison Maurer, Moseley went from 145 to 178 pounds. And he isn't done there. Moseley's goal is to hit 185 pounds.

Moseley attributes much of his weight gain to Maurer's food plan.

"I give it to Ms. Allison," Moseley said. "She really helped me out. She stayed on me about eating, so that's how I did it."

Head Coach Butch Jones calls Moseley's added weight "the right pounds" thanks to the support staff and Moseley's dedication.

"Allison [Maurer] does a great job in our fueling station and works very closely with Jason [McVeigh] and Dave Lawson and they have done great job," Jones said. "And also a lot of credit goes to him, it is the sacrifices, it is getting up at 2 o'clock in the morning and making himself a triple-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it is maybe eating a little bit more, it is getting the rest, it is working exceptionally hard in the weight room. And he has done that."

One of his biggest adjustment wasn't just adding on over 30 pounds but also keeping his speed and ability to move on the field.

"As I put on the weight, I'd have to run. I'd lose some and had to gain it right back. It was kind of hard, but it was worth it."

Hoping to earn early playing time, the time spent was worthwhile as Moseley sees direct correlation with his success at his position.

"I notice it because in the spring I was kind of getting bumped and I may fall but now I can hold my ground."

Jones also sees that the added weight hasn't changed the competitiveness of the former high school quarterback.

"His style of play has never changed in terms of his swagger, his competitive nature, his instincts, but obviously he is playing a lot more physical just because of the added strength," Jones said. "Now he needs to continue to go. He can't play at this level at that weight, he knows that and he has continued to work through it. But Emmanuel Moseley has been one of those individuals that has been great to see in training came. He has been extremely consistent each and every day. You know what you are getting with Emmanuel Moseley every day."


For sophomore receiver Josh Smith, the 2014 season brings new opportunities with a new mindset as Team 118 approaches its home opener against Utah State.

"The word on my bus, as Coach has been emphasizing, is `new'," Smith said of the buses, each player were given prior to the season in reference to Jon Gordon's 'The Energy Bus' book.

"Everybody has been asking me, "What is `new'?" I said, I'm a new me. It's a new team, a new day and I'm a new guy. I feel like I'm starting strong, so I've got to end strong."

As a true freshman in 2013, the Knoxville native made four starts and appeared in 11 games for the Vols. While he found the experiences to be invaluable, Smith now strives to live up to the praises from Coach Azzanni and continue to fight for starts against arguably the toughest competition among Tennessee's receiver squad in years.

"When you come here as a true freshman, if you don't expect to play then I don't know what you're doing," said Smith. "I wanted to play. I expected to play and I was fighting to play. I just didn't execute last season how I wanted to but it's behind me and now it's a new year. I feel like I'm doing good, but I feel like I have a lot to improve on, as does everyone."

While using the term `new' to motivate himself daily, Smith also points out that the word applies to the Vols offensive unit as a whole, citing the increased level of skill and competition at every position.

"We're not making the same mistakes we used to," added Smith. "We're just making plays and we know everything. We know the whole offense, in and out, and we can play different positions. We have more competition, that's really the big thing. We have more chemistry now. It definitely motivates me every day. I mean, how does that not motivate you?"


Junior wide receiver Cody Blanc will miss the entire 2014 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon on the first day of training camo.

"He's out for the year," Jones said. "We got the results back. It's Achilles' tendon, and it's torn, so he will miss this year."

The Knoxville Central graduate had played in 21 games in his first two seasons in Orange & White. He made one catch for 43 yards, coming vs. Alabama last season.





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