Fayton's progress continues

C.J. Fayton looked like a rising star last spring, then suffered through a mediocre 2002 regular season. Just as UT football fans were about to give up on him, however, he came through with a five-catch effort in the Peach Bowl.

Based on his work this spring, Fayton is building on that Peach Bowl performance. He appears to be Tennessee's No. 3 receiver -- behind Mark Jones and Tony Brown.

''He's made a lot of progress,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said of Fayton. ''C.J. is doing much better. That's mostly because of maturity.''

Although Fulmer was pleased with Fayton's performance in the Peach Bowl, he declines to pinpoint that as a breakout game.

''I think it was a progressive thing all during the season,'' he said.

Although he is gifted physically, Fayton still has a ways to go mentally to become a player the Vols can count on. He makes an occasional bonehead play that causes Fulmer to cringe.

''He's still doing some things,'' the head man said. ''(One day) we called a slant and completed the ball but he ran a hitch. Those kind of things will get you beat in big ballgames.''

Fayton isn't the only receiver making mental mistakes this spring, of course. Running wrong routes and sloppy routes was a problem all last fall, and Fulmer says Vol wideouts still haven't made the necessary progress in that area.

''They've just got to be into it, pay attention to detail, be disciplined,'' he said. ''They're better but they're not where they need to be.''

Although Brown led the Vols in catches last season and Fayton is improving, the Vols' clearcut No. 1 receiver is transplanted safety Mark Jones. He has been the most pleasant surprise of spring practice to date.

''Right now if you're looking a play on offense, he's probably going to get the ball,'' Fulmer said. ''We need other guys to complement that.''


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