Is Mark Jones the answer at WR?

The Tennessee Vols are so desperate to upgrade their receiver corps that they have switched safety Mark Jones and tailback Derrick Tinsley to the position this spring.

Jones, in particular, has been impressive at his new outpost, but his status as strictly an offensive player isn't etched in stone.

''I don't think so,'' Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis said recently. ''I think he'll be there (safety) if there's a need. We're excited about what Mark Jones has done for our team and what he can do in the future (but) I don't think anything's permanent around here except death and taxes.''

After watching Vol wideouts stumble, bumble and fumble their way through a miserable season in 2002, UT offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is determined to find a solution -- whether it comes from Jones, Tinsley, a veteran receiver or a February signee.

''A lot's been made out of the receiving position last year,'' he said. ''We were a little short numbers-wise and a little short experience-wise, and it all got accentuated when Kelley (Washington) got hurt. We're trying to find the right mix.''

Sanders likes the potential of Tinsley, who was often utilized as a receiver while playing tailback last fall.

''Derrick had five touchdown catches,'' the coordinator noted. ''He and (Jason) Witten were our leaders. We're going to give him a shot out there this spring, see if he can be one of our best three or four receivers.''

Once Washington was injured last fall, Tennessee had no wideout capable of stretching a defense vertically. Thus, the search for a big-play receiver is a top priority this spring.

''I think there are some guys who have the potential to be like Peerless Price,'' Sanders said. ''Peerless didn't do a whole lot as a freshman and sophomore. What he did do was made a little bit easier because we had Marcus Nash and some other guys on the other side. We have some guys with that kind of ability but they were asked to do it a lot earlier last year and without as much help in some places as what he had.''


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