Roles cementing for Vols

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The auditions and cementing throughout the two-deep for the Tennessee Volunteers as they scrimmaged at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Friday.

Followers of the Big Orange know how vital churning out yardage by handing the football off is to accumulating victories. A quick glimpse at the stat sheet and it's becoming more apparent that Rajion Neal is going to be the bell cow to get the ground game going. The junior that bench presses 415 pounds, squats 560 and has been laser-timed in the 40-yard dash under 4.5 seconds has all the credentials to be The Man. Neal just needs to show he can hold onto the rock, make yards on his own and pick up free blitzers as a blocker.

Against the second-team defense, Devrin Young brought back memories of Gainesville from last September as the sophomore running back took a check down and raced 72 yards for a score. The former Bearden (Tenn.) High standout also toted the football five times for 21 yards, including a 1-yard TD.

After the Orange & White game in late April, the No. 1 tailback job looked to be now-sophomore Marlin Lane's to lose. In two scrimmages, he has carried the ball 15 times for 53 yards (3.53 per carry). His one touchdown came Friday on a 1-yard plunge. If the season started tomorrow, Neal and Young would get a bulk of the carries with Lane likely relegated to third-down usage.

Vol newcomer Darrington Sentimore continues to show up along the defensive front.
(Danny Parker/
The InsideTennessee staff has been quite impressed with the progress freshman Drae Bowles has made since Day 1. The Jackson, Tenn., native is starting to back up his rep with production, hauling in a team-high six balls for 91 yards. When the Jim Chaney calls for a four- or five-wide formation, Bowles may find himself on the field at some point this season. The key is for him to earn Chaney's and Tyler Bray's trust in terms of both running the right routes and bringing in catchable balls.

Defensive end Darrington Sentimore continues to cement a starting spot, claiming a pair of tackles, including 1.5 TFLs. The entire defensive front appears to be doing its job occupying blockers, allowing linebackers to roam free as is evident by A.J. Johnson racking up a team-leading 12 tackles. Nose guard Daniel McCullers rewarded the staff's confidence in him by not only commanding double teams but swimming through opponents enough to gobble up four stops.

From the onset of camp, the safeties running with the first team have been Brent Brewer and Brian Randolph. In his second year as a Volunteer, Byron Moore is making it hard on the coaches to keep him off the field. This preseason he has six tackles and two interceptions (both of whom came off Justin Worley passes Friday). Should Brewer shown an inability to cover a back quadrant, the JUCO transfer may an opportunity. When the Vols go to an alignment featuring six defensive backs, Brewer will slide into the box and Moore will be on the field.

Michael Palardy picked right up where he left off from the first scrimmage where he nailed all four field goal attempts. On Friday afternoon, the left-footer sailed both attempts (33, 41) through the uprights. Freshman George Bullock is worth his scholarship as he continues to push the junior letterwinner but the Knoxville native sailed his 28-yard try wide to the right.

Punters were rotated last year based on the situation and Palardy's and Matt Darr's strengths. Darr separated himself slightly at Science Hill High School last Saturday. The race tightened some at Neyland with Palardy netting 41.3 yards per punt with Darr at 39.8 per clip.

The Volunteers take part in Media Day on Saturday afternoon before training camp continues Sunday and Monday. On Wednesday, the staff starts strategizing for North Carolina State and the students start the fall semester. The players get introduced to the scouting report and game plan for the Wolfpack on Thursday.

Check out what defensive lineman Maurice Couch said about Friday's action in the HD video interview below:

Here's a glimpse at this afternoon's statistics from the university:

Scrimmage Scoring
TD: Quenshaun Watson 16 yd Rec from Justin Worley; George Bullock missed PAT (6-0)
TD: Da' Rick Rogers 31 yd Rec from Tyler Bray; Michael Palardy PAT (13-0)
TD: Devrin Young 72 yd Rec from Justin Worley; No PAT (19-0)
FG: Michael Palardy 33 yd Field Goal (22-0)
TD: Devrin Young 1 yd Rush, No PAT (28-0)
FG: Michael Palardy 41 yd Field Goal (31-0)
TD: Marlin Lane 1 yd Rush, No PAT (37-0)
TD: Cordarrelle Patterson 10 yd Rec from Tyler Bray, No PAT (44-0)

Scrimmage Statistics
Worley 15-28-229 2 TD, 2 INT; Bray 5-12-80 2 TD; Peterman 5-8-81

Neal 8-47, 25 Long; Young 5-21 TD, 17 Long; Summerhill 3-20, 12 Long; Lane 7-19 TD, 16 Long; Hill 2-11, 6 Long; J. King 1-3; Watson 4- minus 2, 2 Long

Bowles 6-91, 25 Long; Young 1-72 TD, 72 Long; Patterson 2-42, 32 Long; Ellis 3-39, 32 Long; Carter 3-34, 21 Long; D. Rogers 1-31 TD, 31 Long; Watson 2-30 TD, 16 Long, Page 1-13; Downs 2-12, 7 Long; Drummer 1-10; Hunter 1-6; Bartholomew 1-0

Darr 4-159-39.8, 48 Long; Palardy 3-123-41.3, 47 Long

Field Goals
Palardy 33 Good, 41 Good; Bullock 28 WR

Johnson 3-9-12, Waggner 3-3-6, Coleman 2-3-5, G. King 2-3-5, McCullers 0-4-4, Maggitt 2-1-3, Crump 0-3-3, Toney 2-0-2, Arnold 1-1-2, Dallas 1-1-2, Gray 1-1-2, Miller 1-1-2, Randolph 1-1-2, Sentimore 1-1-2, J. Smith 1-1-2, Bohannon 0-2-2, Brewer 0-2-2, Fowlkes 0-2-2, Gordon 0-2-2, Lewis 0-2-2, O'Brien 0-2-2, Propst 0-2-2, Williams 0-2-2, Bonner 0-1-1, Clark 0-1-1, Fugate 0-1-1, Oliver 1-0-1, Orta 1-0-1, Sapp 0-1-1, Saulsberry 0-1-1, Taylor 0-1-1, Teague 0-1-1, Wilks 0-1-1

Tackles for Loss
Sentimore 1.5-6, Maggitt 1.5-4, Smith 1-5, Miller 1-1

Smith 1-5, Maggitt 1-1

Moore 2-18

Forced Fumbles
Johnson 1

Pass Break Ups
Smith 1, Gordon 1, Waggner 1, Moore 1, Oliver 1

Quarterback Hurries
Smith 2, Maggitt 1, Walls 1, Bohannon 1, Miller 1

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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