Poole Reflects Growing Confidence in Vols Offense

Aug. 8, 2009


Tennessee's offense placed an exclamation point on the first week of fall camp with an impressive performance during Saturday's practice at Neyland Stadium. The Vols were in pads for the first time since spring ball.

"That's our expectation on every drive to move the ball like that," head coach Lane Kiffin said of the offense's early and sustained success. "That was not surprising at all and when we don't do it, it's disappointing.

"I thought the first two series were exactly what we needed. We moved the ball in not very many plays -- big chunks with guys doing things right."

Sophomore tailback Tauren Poole, somewhat lost in the early-season chatter about senior leadership and freshman impact players, continued making his case for more than just a cursory glance in the backfield.

"He shows up every time we come in here," Kiffin said. "We don't limit anybody. He's an example of a guy who's not played very much but who continues to play well. If he beats those guys out and performs better than all of them, he'll be the No. 1 guy."

Poole played in every game as a 2008 true freshman, but carried just 22 times for 86 yards and a 3.9-yard average. His best outings were 11 attempts for 44 yards against Wyoming and nine for 43 against UAB.

Thus far this off-season, the Toccoa, Ga., native has been up to the challenge from his new coaching staff.

"I just knew I had to come in and work hard and just fight every day with those good tailbacks coming in," Poole said. "I've been listening to Coach Gran's coaching and it's gotten me a spark. I'm doing well."

He also knows that the running game must be a combined effort for the success to show.

"I have to give credit to the O-line," he said of Saturday's results. "They worked hard up front opening those holes for the running backs, and the receivers were blocking on the outside. I just hit the hole today and it came out good."

Kiffin felt encouraged about the continued success shown by his heralded offensive foursome of Marsalis Teague, Nu'Keese Richardson, Bryce Brown and David Oku.

"It was good to see the freshmen show up today. Offensively, you saw the four freshmen touch the ball a lot and do some good things. Oku had a 40-yarder called back and looked really fast on that. Those are some special guys."

Tennessee takes a break Sunday for its annual football media day, and then returns to practice Monday with the first of three two-a-day practices this upcoming week. The Vols will practice twice each on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with single workouts set for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Oklahoma City -- The 2009 Jim Thorpe Award preseason "watch list" announced this week includes 31 of the nation's best defensive backs as the leading candidates for this year's trophy. Tennessee's Eric Berry, a finalist last year as a sophomore, is among those 31.

The Jim Thorpe Award "watch list" is determined by analysis of the pre-season All-American teams listed in at least six preseason college football annual magazines. Four points are awarded for first team, three points for second team, two points for third and one point for honorable mentions. This procedure determines approximately 30-40 players on the pre-season watch list. This list is not final and players who have outstanding seasons are added as the season progresses.

A "Screening Committee" of Jim Thorpe Association members follows these players throughout the season, watching games and researching information sources to grade Thorpe Award candidates on the basis of performance on the field, athletic ability and character. The committee meets on the first Monday in November to narrow the field to 10 or 12 semifinalists.

The committee meets again on the Monday before Thanksgiving to select the three finalists. The names of these finalists are submitted to a national panel of about 50 sports writers, sportscasters, coaches and former players who vote to determine the winner. The three finalists are invited to the ESPN College Football Awards Show, and the winner is announced during the show.

Formal presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award takes place at ceremonies in Oklahoma City on the first Tuesday in February following the national signing date for college football recruits.

Javier Arenas - SR - Alabama
Aaron Berry - SR - Pittsburgh
Eric Berry - JR - Tennessee
Ahmad Black - JR - Florida
Morgan Burnett -J R - Georgia Tech
Kendric Burey - JR - North Carolina
Crezdon Butler - SR - Clemson
Kam Chancellor -SR - Virginia Tech
Chris Chandler - SR - Clemson
Barry Church - SR - Toledo
Kurt Coleman - SR - Ohio State
Parrish Cox - SR -Oklahoma State
Ras-I Dowling - JR - Virginia
Van Eskridge - SR - East Carolina
Dominique Franks - JR - Oklahoma
Joe Haden - JR - Florida
Duke Ihenacho - SR - San Jose State
Reshad Jones - JR - Georgia
Jordan Lake - SR - Baylor
Myron Lewis - SR - Vanderbilt
Trevard Lindley - SR - Kentucky
Taylor Mays - SR - Southern California
Amari Spievey - JR - Iowa
Darrell Stuckey - SR -Kansas
Earl Thomas - SO - Texas
Syd'Quan Thompson - SR - California
Walter Thurmond - SR - Oregon
Alterraun Verner - SR - UCLA
Stephen Virgil - SR - Virginia Tech
Deunta Williams - JR - North Carolina
Kyle Wilson - SR - Boise State





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