Aug. 12, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's assistant coaches met with the media following the first of two practices on Monday.
A few items of note in this morning's practice. Vincent Dallas worked out at cornerback. It marks a return to the secondary for the second time for Dallas, who has yo-yoed between receiver and defensive back in his three years with the Vols.
"We're trying to develop some depth at the position," defensive coordinator John Jancek said. "Vincent has experience there so we're taking a look at it. ... He was more than willing. Great kid, very attentive, listened, picked up a couple things and this afternoon we'll know a little bit more."
Also, freshman Jalen Reeves-Maybin, saw time as a linebacker after working in the secondary early in camp.
"I see physicality, he's a very smart player, and he's got good size," Jancek said on Reeves-Maybin. "I think his natural fit is going to be at linebacker as we move forward. He's only going to get bigger and we need some help at that position. He's a guy that I would say has the skillset to play all three positions."
We are going to take a look at comments from the coaches on various members of the Vols.
(Steve Stripling On Danny O'Brien)
"Danny O'Brien is a warrior. He's probably got the best mental toughness of the group and I think now he's just got to keep working his skills and his athleticism, which is better than the spring. He's improved in those areas."
(Steve Stripling On Corey Miller)
"Yes he has (been a leader) and I think that's the advantage of my group right now. I have six seniors. All six have done an outstanding job of being a leader. So, obviously when someone has to step up that really helps you that he has the maturity and it's not a freshman."
(Steve Stripling On Jason Carr)
"He has the stature, he has the personality, and he has the ability. What he lacks is the training. He, typical, thinks he can get away with everything he got away with in high school and in college you can't do that. So, for him it's strictly a matter of soundness, of learning your techniques and applying them."
(Steve Stripling On Corey Vereen)
"Well, he had a big smile on his face (when he had his black stripe removed). I would say this, like every other coach, I would've bet 100 dollars that he would have got his stripe off first and he would've had he not got injured. He's injured but kids still respect him so much because now he's approaching the injury just like he does football. Treatment ten hours a day, film study five hours a day, he's nonstop."
(Steve Stripling On Jacques Smith)
"Again, (despite his injury) he's showing great leadership and energy, understanding what the other guys are going through, the grind. He's out there doing a great job of leading."
(John Jancek On Malik Foreman and Cameron Sutton)
"Malik (Foreman) and Cameron (Sutton) are going to play. That's the reality of it. I'm glad they're here, they're going to take their lumps early, but the thing that I like about them is, and Cam especially has a really good demeanor. He doesn't get too frustrated, too up or too low, so I think he has the right demeanor if you're going to play a freshman. Because they're going to take some lumps. He's got the ability to snap-and-clear and come back."
(Willie Martinez On Cameron Sutton and Malik Foreman)
"They are a work in progress. We still have a long way to go. They are getting better of understanding our defense but it is nowhere near where it needs to be as far as fundamentals and technique. They are just starting to learn, the guys that we had from spring, they understood the tempo and for them it is the first time around. They are still adjusting to that speed."
(Willie Martinez On JaRon Toney)
"Experience... He played some last year. It is showing from the spring too. His retention has been pretty good from the back. Experience you can see it. He is a really good special teams player too. Understanding leverage, understanding his assignment is crucial because that is a position that you have to know a lot. You have to be involved in the checks. It gives us a tremendous amount of experience that some of the other guys don't have."
"He is one of the guys that is wanted on special teams by all of the coaches. I see that [he has a chip on his shoulder from being a walk-on]. But I see his personality. He is a kid that practices really hard, has a good attitude and is really coachable and you can't ask mush more than that."
(Willie Martinez On Vincent Dallas)
"We are just in the process right now of looking at some guys and trying to get our best available on the field so we are taking a look at Vincent. We love Vincent. We love Vincent as a staff. He is an unselfish player and has a great attitude and did a good job.
"The great thing about it is, he has played defensive back before. So he's got awareness and anytime you play the opposite position, in this case it is the wide receiver and defensive back, there are a lot of similarities and lingo that he hears so he knows how to attack it. It is very good. He feels comfortable with it."
(John Jancek On A.J. Johnson)
"He's done everything we've asked him. The way we're going to be successful is by playing team defense, everybody doing their job, every man - 1-to-11 - each and every single play. That's how we've approached it with A.J., as well as all the players on our defense. It's not just one guy running around making 130 or 140 tackles and playing lousy defense, it's about the team and playing team defense. That's been our emphasis."
(Tommy Thigpen On A.J. Johnson)
"He has an uncanny knack for playing in traffic, things look congested most guys can't see, for a big guy he has an uncanny ability to get the ball, he has a nose for it. I mean there are a lot of things you can't coach, I mean I look at him some times and say 'How did you make that play?' He has a great knack, a great sense of how to get to the ball then he's such a strong tackler, he very rarely misses a tackle."
(Tommy Thigpen On Curt Maggitt)
"He will start in a couple days... he's been doing all of our drills and stuff. He's starting to work on his pass skills and slow to start building. He's trying hard and we teach a lot of effort, that's one of our main priorities, effort, effort, effort on every single play. He dropped off in one scrimmage and we got after him and he came back and responded to that."
(Tommy Thigpen On Dontavis Sapp and Brent Brewer)
"You want guys to be playing in space as those two guys being in the back end before that's got to be their advantage. They don't panic. DBs are usually out there in space so the offense is trying to take advantage of that. Guys like Brewer and Sapp, they don't panic when they get out in space."
(Tommy Thigpen On Jalen Reeves-Maybin)
"He'll learn as he goes along, as time goes on he'll start getting the calls. We see that in practice now, he's not afraid of contact by any stretch of the imagination. He gets after it and he's a really smart and cerebral kid and that's kind of our motto to him. Great linebacker, just smart and tough you know and he possess a lot of good qualities of a linebacker."
(Willie Martinez On Jalen Reeves-Maybin)
"We are trying to get the best players on the field. Where we think it's their best position. I love Jalen. Jalen is a smart tough football player and we are going to just take a look at his situation the next couple of days because we have the time, why not do it."
(Tommy Thigpen On Christian Harris)
"He's coming along, we're going to keep challenging him, the theme of our room is just tough guys, smart guys, a lot of pride. And Christian has a lot of that. He's got all the intangibles of being a really good linebacker. He's strong, he can run, he's a smart kid, and it's just takes experience getting out there and playing more."
(Tommy Thigpen On Justin King)
"He's a good guy. I tell you, every day I can see the confidence in him, he's a lot more presence then when he first got there, of course, new defense so guys were asked to talk and nobody wanted to ask questions. Now when we come into the room, guys got their notebooks asking questions, they're not afraid to ask because they don't understand something. We can draw this on the board for them. So now, they're students of the game so they want to know how the defense moves, what are the advantages of it, what are the disadvantages of it, what kind of techniques are they need to use. The fact that you ask a lot of questions tells me it's in tune."
(Robert Gillespie On Rajion Neal)
"He's been doing well. Just has to get better in some areas in pass protection. Just still getting his body in bad position in some of those aspects but overall, his attitude's been pretty good. The competition has made him step his game up and become a better football player. So, so far he's doing pretty good."
(Robert Gillespie On Marlin Lane)
"You can just tell that he's more appreciative of being here and being around his teammates. Slowly but surely he's starting to become a guy that's vocal, being a good leader, encouraging guys, coaching when I can't get to a guy because of our speed of practice. I can just tell that he's excited to be back and he's been a really good teammate so far."
(Robert Gillespie On Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal)
"Well, I mean the better backs in this conference have depth. I've made those guys understand that Rajion Neal is only going to be as good as Marlin (Lane) can help him become. We've got to have fresh guys in the game. Guys that will want to come out. The tempo and the style that we play, they'll drop off. So, I think that they're starting to buy in to that they need each other to be a good backfield and good running backs."
(Robert Gillespie On Justus Pickett)
"He has. He's been a good addition from a lot of different aspects but really good for the meeting room. Very mature, understands it, great attitude, works hard, and slowly but surely he's starting to make all of his teammates, even the guys in the other room, know who he is. So, that's always the first step. That guys are starting to respect the way he plays."
(Zach Azzanni On Vincent Dallas)
"You know what, those are personale decisions that Coach Jones makes and you know, for our situation at corner right now, I think Coach is just experimenting a little and putting the best players on the field."
(Zach Azzanni On Josh Smith)
"Instincts... He's an instinctive player. He catches the ball. He has a lot to work on, but he's instinctual. He's tough. Those are the things that I like about Josh. He's a pleasant surprise and we're happy to have him. He's going to keep getting better and better, just like those other freshmen.
(Mike Bajakian On Josh Smith)
"He has made plays. He has very good ball skills, he makes the difficult catches and that is big. We want to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Those guys that demonstrate those abilities will find their way onto the field."
(Zach Azzanni On Marquez North)
"The biggest thing for a freshman is to take some deep breaths and refocus and keep going, because they keep getting drilled from every direction as far as amount of install, coaches on them, this schedule is rigorous. Our pace is rigorous. Just being able for him to slow it down, to take a deep breath, refocus, and go play the next play. He's really done that. Saturday, or whenever, I don't even know what day of the week, whenever we just scrimmaged here a couple days ago, I thought he really came back, took some deep breaths, worked on things like his stances and things. He's a coachable kid, so that's what's really intriguing about him. That's why you know his game will keep getting better and better."
(Mike Bajakian On Marquez North)
"Freshman and veterans, the snap and clear mentality that we preach doesn't come naturally to guys. We are always emphasizing to them no matter how good or bad your last play was you have to focus on the next play. For a freshman to demonstrate the ability to do that just shows that his learning curve is just that much better, it is pretty exciting to see."
(Zach Azzanni On Johnathon Johnson and Devrin Young)
"I'm very happy with Johnathn and Devrin [Young]. Both of those guys, I think have really brought it. Devrin has really worked his tail off and brought some good things to the table. I'm pleased with how he is playing right now. Johnathon Johnson - I don't know what we would do without him, just from the depth standpoint. He's a crafty player; he's a productive player. All those three guys, between Pig [Howard], Devrin [Young] and Johnson, are doing a nice job complementing each other in and out of that slot."
(Zach Azzanni On Pig Howard)
"Pig started off like gang busters, you know - had a couple of bad doldrums practices here and has picked it back up today. I think he just hit that middle of the camp grind. He's being coachable, he's really trying to do the things I ask him. I can tell by the way he meets, how he comes to meetings, how he walks around the facility. He's a different kid than he was in the spring. Those things translate to the field and now he's taking coaching on the field whereas in the spring, you really didn't know what to expect a little bit. He's fighting a little bit. He's getting better and better."
(Zach Azzanni On Ryan Jenkins)
"Ryan is up and down, up and down, up and down. Off the field, on the field he's up and down. He's kind of all over the place right now, which a lot of freshmen are. So, we're just trying to reel him back in to focus. He's a great kid too. I tell you what, there's nobody fighting it right now. He is a yes sir, no sir kid. I mean I can chase him up and down the field, be in his grill telling him, yelling at him, patting him on the butt, it doesn't matter. He's always the same, yes sir, yes sir, yes sir. I know he'll get better."
(Zach Azzanni On Drae Bowles)
"Yes, Drae can help us. Drae is a great kid. Drae can really help us on special teams right now. I think his old place where he's kind of showing off a little bit, but you know, as far as receiver spot, we're still waiting to see. I know what he can do from the spring. That's why these young guys are getting all the reps. I want to see what they can do now. As it gets closer to game time, we'll kind of sort it out.
(Mike Bajakian On Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman)
"We like to create competition and that is what we are doing. It is a very competitive situation. I wouldn't classify it as good or bad, just a competitive situation."
(Mike Bajakian On Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson)
"Great progress. They are both very sharp and very talented. I have said that in the past. I am really happy with how they are grasping the offense and how they are coming along physically. They are hungry and they have been hungry since they stepped on campus. It just means they both have promising futures."
"I am continually impressed with when we are reviewing and they are quickly spitting out answers in the meeting room and even on the field with how quickly they are able to transition the physical skill that I am looking for into their mechanics."
(Mark Elder on Brendan Downs)
"Brendan Downs has been having a good fall camp, still has a lot of things that he needs to improve upon. He's got a high expectation level for himself, as do I, and so as far as that's concerned. He's doing well, I still would like to see him taking some bigger steps forward."
(Mark Elder On Woody Quinn and tight end corps)
"We're taking baby steps forward. I'd like to see leaps and bounds at this point in time. So, it's not where I want it. No, it's not. I wish I could say it the other way, but I'm seeing progress, but it's not where it needs to be, and it's not nearly fast enough. Not nearly fast enough at this point."
(Don Mahoney On Dylan Wiesman)
"The strides he is making each day are encouraging. Again, there are two questions a freshman has to answer when he comes in and truly play as a freshman: can you handle it mentally and physically? He has answered both of those because physically he is able to hold up, and right now, he is one of our most physical guys as far as lockdowns, but he also understands that mental part of that. It is allowing him to play fast. He has definitely worked himself into that role where his opportunity to play is going to be sooner than later from what I originally thought."
(Mike Bajakian On Dylan Wiesman)
"When you are recruiting, particularly at that position, all players but specifically the big guys at the offensive, defensive sides of the lines, you look for a guy who plays with a mean streak. We have known Dylan very well since he was an underclassman. He has always demonstrated that mean streak. He always finishes blocks; he has a nasty edge to him. We talk about recruiting personalities, obviously physical skills are important but we recruit guys that have the personality that we are looking for, that championship personality, that championship mentality. Dylan comes in here with that mentality firmly ingrained in him and that is a testament to his high school coach and his high school program. But it is also a testament to the kid and his competitive spirit and his physicality."
(Mark Elder On special teams)
"We're coming along. I think that the kickers are, their competing. I mean they're working hard. I mean they're is a couple guys that want that spot, both in the actual field goal position and kickoff, and punt as well. The kickoff returners, those guys are just now starting to get those reps. I mean some of the young guys that you're throwing out there, again the drill work. Seeing them catch a kickoff and not necessarily have to make people miss and run the return. That's easy, that's the easy part is catching the kickoff, and it's seeing what they can do with the football, and that's what were now getting to do as we get the eleven on eleven stuff out here on the field. So, the returner stuff, besides the technique, I mean some of the guys have eliminated themselves. The guys that have gone out there when we do drill work and catching the ball, and they don't catch it. Their not getting anymore reps, but now it's a matter of who's catching it in a pressure situation and then what are they doing with that football once they've caught it."
ONLY 19 DAYS UNTIL...
The Vols will open the 2013 campaign against Austin Peay on Aug. 31. To purchase season tickets, go to UTTix.com.