Malone detects 'tighter atmosphere'

The InsideTennessee staff was out in force last weekend to get the latest on visitors for Tennessee's second junior day. Sign in now to read what this in-state All-American said about the Vol coaching staff and more.

Tennessee's invite-only junior day last weekend was a chance for first-year head coach Butch Jones and his staff to show around some of the top targets in the Class of 2014. One in-state visitor, Josh Malone, already knows quite a bit about Rocky Top, but used the opportunity to get a better feel for the coaches.

"Everything went well," Malone said. "They told me how much they really like me and all that. I appreciated it. It was a good day. They showed me a lot of stuff. It's a different atmosphere up here.

"Overall, I feel like it's going to be a good staff. I'm looking forward to seeing what they're going to do this year. Right now they have big plans."

The word "swagger" was used by several prospects InsideTennessee spoke with about how Saturday went. The FOX Sports NEXT four-star described a different feel now that Jones is at the helm as well.

"It just feels like a tighter atmosphere. It's like they're making it more of a family thing. It's a tighter family and less business. They're making the players enjoy it while they're up there and having fun while trying to win games and trying to win a national championship."

If Malone chooses to be a Vol, his wide receivers coach will be Zach Azzanni.

"He's a good guy," Malone said of the former Florida and Wisconsin assistant. "He seems like he's more focused on getting the players ready and adding more tools to their box just so they can get that extra separation coming out of their break and all. He seems like a good coach."

Future Tennessee wideouts and Class of 2013 signees Ryan Jenkins and Marquez North both returned to The Hill to continue familiarizing themselves with everything orange. They also spoke with Vol targets like the Station Camp (Tenn.) High School product.

"I got a chance to meet them and talk to them a little. That was really about it," Malone said.

The group made its way over to Thompson-Boling Arena to see coach Cuonzo Martin's team beat Kentucky by 30 points with nearly 22,000 fans in attendance.

"It was a pretty good atmosphere. I've been to the Florida (football) game. So, it wasn't nothing compared to that," Malone said.

The 6-foot-2 1/2, 190-pounder said he hasn't set up a time frame on when he will make a decision on his college choice. He also doesn't have a list of finalists and said no schools are recruiting him any harder than any others. While he is competing for the Station Camp track team this spring, he doesn't have plans for getting to more university campuses.

He will compete in the 100-meter, 200-meter, high jump and possibly hurdles and the decathlon.

"It's going to help my speed, help me get into better shape, help me get faster. All I'm looking for is just finding somewhere to improve," said Malone, who caught 28 balls for 408 yards and five touchdowns as a junior.

At the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio back on Jan. 4, he clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.6 seconds with a shuttle time of 4.1 seconds and a vertical leap of 32 inches.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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