Versatile Vol

There is little doubt that rising senior Renaldo Woolridge will play more for the Tennessee Vols in 2011-12 than the 72 minutes he logged in 2010-11.

The question is: Where will he play?

Perhaps a better question is: Where WON'T he play?

Except for the point-guard position, Renaldo Woolridge could show up anywhere on the floor in 2011-12. He has played the 2, 3 and 4 positions previously, and - being the Vols' tallest returning player at 6-9 - could play some center this season, according to first-year head coach Cuonzo Martin.

"He said he loves my versatility," Woolridge said of Martin. "He hasn't specified whether I'll be playing more inside or out. He thinks it's good for our team for me to play inside and out, so I'm just working every day with guards and bigs."

Woolridge played primarily on the perimeter in the past. But, with Tennessee minus its top three inside players from last year - 6-10, 270-pound Brian Williams, 6-9, 240-pound John Fields and 6-7, 226-pound Tobias Harris - Woolridge may need to work closer to the basket this season. In anticipation of this, he has added some much-needed bulk.

"My playing weight right now is 220 - up from 208 last year - so I have a big man's size but I can still move like a guard," he said. "I'm just trying to be able to dominate in both areas."

Woolridge scored 32 points Wednesday night in his Rocky Top League opener, then came back with 22 more in Friday night's summer-league action. He believes the added weight is helping a lot.

"I can tell the difference on the inside, when I'm going up and drawing fouls," he said. "I can use my shoulders and my upper-body strength more in getting to the basket, so I'm trying to use that to my advantage."

Although he scored 32 points in his first summer league game, Woolridge panned his performance.

"I thought I did all right," he said. "I didn't really shoot the ball too well but I was working on some new things - being more physical inside, running up and down the floor and getting my wind back."

Woolridge suffered through an injury-plagued 2010-11 season that saw him watch 26 of the 34 games, including the final 20 in a row. He hopes to get a medical redshirt from the NCAA but that appears to be a longshot. The NCAA rule book says a medical redshirt is reserved for athletes who play in 20 percent or less of their team's games. Woolridge played in eight of 34 Vol games last season, which is 23.5 percent.

Assuming the medical redshirt appeal is denied, he and Cameron Tatum will be Tennessee's only seniors this season. Naturally, Woolridge intends to be a good role model for the freshmen and sophomores.

"My role right now is just to be a leader to these young guys," he said. "Having been here four years, me and Cam are definitely going to try and be the leaders of this team and steer it in the direction it was going in the first place."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories