Ever since his commitment back on March 14, 2013, Jalen Hurd has been the most popular name in Knoxville.
And in the Vols' situational scrimmage on Friday, the highly-touted running back got his opportunity to shine with his backfield running mate Marlin Lane not participating.
The freshman broke off a few big runs and scored a couple of touchdowns, showing quickness with a couple of juke moves, as well as power, with numerous defenders being forced to take him down at times.
"Each day of practice I see him getting better and better," Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. "I see the improvement coming, but also I see the confidence now getting in him. He understands what he needs to work on."
As for Lane, the junior has been limited in practice all week due to a right wrist injury, but Jones believes that he will be back to practice after spring break.
"He'll benefit from spring break, he's going to stay here and he's going to rehab it," Jones said. "We fully anticipate him to finish spring football, but a lot of it is how that bone heals in the next ten days."
Update under center
All four candidates for the starting quarterback job got an opportunity to showcase their ability – and improvement – in Friday's scrimmage, as the quartet swapped in and out with both the first and second team offenses.
Senior Justin Worley started off the scrimmage with an eight play drive that was capped with a touchdown pass to freshman tight end Ethan Wolf.
His day ended on a low note, however, as he threw an interception to junior safety LaDarrell McNeil on his final pass attempt of the day.
"I started off hot with the opening touchdown drive and then ended with the interception," Worley said, "so I wasn't happy about that, but I thought I had some good plays and some bad plays, I just got to go watch the film now."
Class of 2013 signal callers Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson combined to throw three touchdowns in the scrimmage.
The last touchdown – and Ferguson's second – of the day was the highlight in the passing game on Friday, as Ferguson fired a pass downfield to sophomore wide receiver Marquez North, who beat the one-on-one coverage to score on the deep ball.
"It was an all-go play and I knew Marquez was one-on-one – and you've seen all the catches he's made in practice and things like that – so I had no other choice but to go to him," Ferguson said. "I have a lot of faith in throwing it up for him, and he went up and grabbed it for me."
And even though all the quarterbacks are sharing first-team reps, Ferguson hasn't sensed any additional pressure on any one individual.
"We are just going out and being who we are, playing quarterback and just trying to get better every day, that's what we are focused on," Ferguson said. "We just want to help each other and try to get better as a unit."
Keep 'em honest
For the Vols, a big part of their offense is built around the zone read and the ability for their quarterback to make a defense pay when they hone in on the running back.
Last season, the offense was limited in the amount of times they could pull the ball due to injuries at the position, so they had to avoid getting the couple of quarterbacks they had left from getting banged up.
In Friday's scrimmage, however, the Vols showcased their quarterbacks legs, as Dobbs, Ferguson and Peterman each had 20-plus yard runs.
"We've just been doing a great job seeing our (pull) keys, getting our reads in, pulling the ball and getting positive plays," Dobbs said.
Bringing the pressure
The Vols defensive effort was led by their pass rush, especially in the second half, as the quarterbacks and running backs seemed to be getting consistent pressure behind the line of scrimmage.
And leading the charge for that pass rush was sophomore Corey Vereen, who picked up a couple of sacks and scored a touchdown after recovering a Dobbs' fumble.
"We've really challenged him to bring a presence off the edge," Jones said. "... I thought Corey had a little bit more explosiveness coming off the football today."
But even with such a good performance, Vereen still sees room for improvement as spring practice continues.
"I would definitely say there are a lot of things I need to work on," Vereen said. "(There were) a lot of good things, but there's a lot of things I need to work on technique-wise."
Pumping the brakes
The Vols made strides during Friday's scrimmage, but according to Jones, they are a long way from where they need to be.
"We need to grow up in a hurry," Jones said. "We are no where near where we need to be and I think our youth continues to show in our overall consistency."