Vols Camp Report: Newcomers and Veterans Stepping Up

wolf 2016Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones, assistant head coach Robert Gillespie and three student-athletes spoke to reporters after Tuesday’s fall camp practice at Haslam Field.

Vols Reward Eli Wolf With Scholarship

Jones and the team surprised sophomore tight end Eli Wolf at the start of practice when Jones announced that the former walk-on has been awarded a scholarship.

“I had the opportunity to award Eli Wolf a scholarship,” Jones said. “He’s earned that playing for us and I can’t say enough about him and what he’s meant to our program. He’s very deserving.”

Stable of Young Running Backs Impresses Gillespie, Kelly

Gillespie, who serves as Tennessee’s assistant head coach, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, said that the trio of Ty Chandler, Trey Coleman and Tim Jordan was the smartest group of freshmen running backs he has ever seen. The veteran coach has enjoyed working with young newcomers who were eager to get ahead of the curve.

“The pressure was kind of put on me to make sure I had things lined up for them,” Gillespie said. “Even when we were going through the spring, they were calling after practice every day. They wanted to know what we did and how it worked. I wanted them to enjoy their senior year, but they still wanted to learn the offense and know what was going on. They did a good job of watching film from afar. They would call and want to Skype. When they came here, I was surprised and pleased by the baseline of knowledge they already had before getting on campus.”

Gillespie praised junior John Kelly for mentoring the young running backs this summer. Kelly echoed Gillespie’s description of the freshmen’s football smarts.

“As far as the knowledge standpoint, they’ve got a lot more to learn but they’re just like sponges, all of them,” Kelly said. “They’re just taking on as much knowledge as they possibly can. Everything that Coach G and I tell them, they’re just doing a good job of attaining the knowledge that we give them.”

Defense Continues To Improve

Tennessee’s defense, which lost playmakers such as first-round pick Derek Barnett and team captains Cameron Sutton and Jalen Reeves-Maybin to the NFL Draft, has found several new voices of leadership and it has seen veterans ready to step into a larger role. Redshirt senior defensive tackle Kendal Vickers started every game in 2016 and has been one of the most respected returning players from the spring through fall camp.

“I think we’ve progressed a lot,” Vickers said. “I know this group is a lot closer than we were say in the beginning of camp. We’ve been getting to know each other off the field and that’s actually been helping us on the field as well because we know where each guy is going to be at on the field and it helps the whole chemistry of everything.”

Home Opener Tickets Available On AllVols.com

Tickets for Tennessee’s Sept. 9 home opener against Indiana State at Neyland Stadium are now available for purchase on AllVols.com.

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Source: University of Tennessee Athletic Department

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