The Tennessee football team began its fall camp this week, and head coach Derek Dooley doesn’t feel nervous, at least not yet, as he enters his first season leading the Volunteers.
“(Fall camp) is the easy part,” Dooley said at a luncheon on Tuesday. “I’m sure I’ll have some (nerves) in a month. If I’ve got butterflies going to practice, we’ve got a real problem.”
Nerves aside, Dooley will have enough problems to worry about after the Vols go through 21 practices leading up to the Sept. 4 season opener with UT-Martin.
On Tuesday, one of Dooley’s problems was answered when he reinstated two players who had been suspended indefinitely after the incident at Bar Knoxville in July. Dooley announced sophomores Marlon Walls and Greg King had rejoined the team and will participate in fall camp and not be suspended for any games unless new information surfaces.
“I’m very comfortable with the discipline that we have put on them, and I’m comfortable with their attitude and the remorse that they’ve had,” Dooley said. “I’m confident that they’re going to be two great ambassadors for our program.”
Walls is a projected starter at defensive tackle, while King is expected to play significantly at linebacker, possibly starting as well.
Signees have question marks
Dooley also said that one signee was ruled ineligible, and four more have not been cleared academically and are not currently with the team.
“(Defensive back) Dave Clark is not going to be apart of the team this year; (defensive tackle) John Brown, Marcques Dixon, (safety) Eddrick Lofton and (linebacker) Martaze Jackson are all still in the process of things that they have to do before they come to be a qualifier.”
Dooley added he hoped to have the eligibility issues resolved next week.
Switching from offense to defense
The eligibility issues of the two defensive backs, along with the depth at wide receiver, allowed coaches to move two offensive players to the defensive side of the ball.
Receivers Marsalis Teague and Ted Meline will make the transition to the secondary where they will provide depth, Dooley said.
“We’re a little deeper at wideout than we are at defensive back,” Dooley said. “Nowadays, you’re in nickel (package) over half the time, so I view five as starting in the secondary.”
Teague is a sophomore who grabbed 13 receptions last season for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Meline is a freshman who enrolled in January and participated in spring practice.
From the track to the gridiron
Two members of the team will bring their track talents to the football field this fall.
Eight-time UT track All-American Evander Wells joined the team during the summer and will be a senior this season. The sprinter is a 5-foot-7 wide receiver that could contribute in the return game as well.
Freshman Justin Hunter is a 6-foot-4 receiver, who excels in the long jump. This summer, he placed sixth at the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships.
Injured Vols healing
Defensively, several Vols either didn’t participate in contact drills or played through pain during spring practice.
Starting defensive ends Ben Martin and Chris Walker each had one knee scoped in June. Both will be limited at the beginning of fall camp, but both are expected to be ready for the season.
Linebackers Nick Reveiz, Herman Lathers and King, along with cornerback Art Evans, dealt with injuries during the spring but are physically ready, Dooley said.
Reveiz, a senior leader on the team, suffered a torn ACL last season and spent the past year recovering for the upcoming season.
“I am at 100-percent,” Reveiz said. “The great thing about this summer is the coaches haven’t held me back at all, so I have been going 100-percent all summer. I feel the best I’ve ever felt, and I’m really excited to get going.”
Defensive back Naz Oliver suffered a torn ACL in the spring and had surgery in May. Dooley hopes Oliver can recover and provide depth later in the season.
Dooley, Vols ready to begin fall camp
Published: Fri Aug 06, 2010