Clausen discusses lost weapons

As Tennessee's starting quarterback, Casey Clausen hated to see the Vols' top two pass-catching threats -- Kelley Washington and Jason Witten -- bypass their remaining collegiate eligibility to make themselves available in the recent NFL Draft.

Even more frustrating was the fact that Washington and Witten were not picked until the third round. Had they been first-round picks, at least they would've made enough financial gain to justify the loss to the Vol program. Naturally, Clausen felt frustrated but he also felt compassion for his former teammates.

''It was tough, feeling for those guys,'' he said recently. ''But sometimes the draft goes that way. I felt both of those guys would go pretty high. I guess the luck of the draw sometimes doesn't let things go your way.

''Obviously, you'd love to have those guys back because I'm sure they'll have great years in the NFL. But we're going to have a great year here at Tennessee. Obviously, we'll miss those guys but I think we definitely have the talent here to be successful.''

Clausen went on to note that the returning receivers are a year older and that versatile safety Mark Jones provided a real boost doubling as a wideout during spring practice.

Now facing his senior season, Clausen took a few moments to reflect on his first three years at UT and how he has changed during that time.

''Obviously, I've grown and matured as a quarterback,'' he said. ''Physically, I've gotten bigger and stronger. I've improved emotionally. Mentally, the game has really slowed down. I've been able to pick up the game pretty quickly.

''Hopefully, my last year at Tennessee, I can go out on a good note ... have a big year.''

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