August is here, and that means football is on the horizon.
"I know everybody is excited, I certainly am," UT coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "One thing that I always think is important any time you turn the clock and there is a new phase where you have some specific goals for what you want to accomplish in training camp as we always do with our team, there are a whole bunch of them but the gist of it is we want to first establish a foundation of core values that define how we compete and how we work together as a team."
The Volunteers kickoff fall camp today, with two sperate sessions — one for newcomers, one with veteran players. Splitting up the team allows the freshmen and other underclassmen to adjust to the tempo of a college practice and also allows them more one-on-one time with coaches.
"I don't care what team you have, every year you have to start over on those things such as attitude and discipline and toughness and effort — it's the same stuff," Dooley said. "We aren't reinventing the wheel. We always want to improve fundamentally and learn all of our technical aspects on offense, defense and special teams. This will be especially important this year given how young we are. This is going to be a very important training camp to evaluate our personnel across the board."
Running back leaving
Running back Toney Williams, a junior who has played a reserve role the past two seasons, is transferring. Williams impressed coaches during spring practice after enrolling early in school in January 2009, but suffered a torn ACL soon after and never seemed to return to his pre-injury form. He carried the ball five times for 11 yards last season.
Feet and shoulders
Sophomore defensive end Jacques Smith broke a bone in his foot the last week of spring practice, but Dooley said he is a "full-go" for fall camp.
Junior linebacker Herman Lathers is "still a couple of months away" from being able to play after also breaking a bone in his foot during the summer.
Freshman offensive lineman Antonio Richardson had shoulder surgery in the spring, but is not 100 percent and is listed as day-to-day, according to Dooley.
Freshmen defensive backs Tino Thomas and Geraldo Orta underwent shoulder surgeries over the summer and are not currently listed on the team's roster. With new SEC rules, schools can only bring in a certain number of newcomers each year, and with the players already on the team, only one more spot is open for either Thomas or Orta, meaning one could potentially want to enroll in school in January, a practice called "grayshirting."
Dooley also announced senior linebacker Austin Johnson would not be suspended for his arrest on July 25, and his punishment would be handled "internally."
"We were all disappointed when we read the news and we are disappointed any time a player makes a bad choice that puts a negative light on our program," Dooley said.
More than a deep threat
Sophomore wide receiver Justin Hunter made the most of his 16 receptions last year, scoring seven touchdowns. Now weighing 192 pounds, Hunter is looking to become a more complete wide out for the Vols after inheriting a starting role with the departures of Gerald Jones and Denarious Moore to the NFL.
"I just don't want to be a deep-ball guy," Hunter said. "I want to make catches across the middle."