Take the case of 2015 commitment Jaylond Woods. Recruited by offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and receivers coach Zach Azzanni, he worked as a slotback/receiver in two previous Vol camps. Conversely, Woods spent considerable time at cornerback while attending one of the showcase events earlier this summer.
“They actually had me working a little bit at defensive back,” he told InsideTennessee. “The other camps I was working primarily offense.”
Woods, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder from Clinton High, found the view from the other side of the scrimmage line both interesting and beneficial.
“It helped me out a lot,” he said. “It broke down a lot of skill techniques for me that I can take back and work on for this coming season.”
So, how much have Vol coaches discussed the possibility of playing defense?
“They have talked to me about it,” he said. “I’m still classified as an athlete right now.”
Woods didn’t run the 40-yard dash during his latest visit to Rocky Top but noted that in the drill work “I think I did pretty good.”
Even though he and the Vol coaches are committed to one another, he won’t let himself get complacent. He admittedly felt the need to put on a good show for Tennessee’s staff.
“I’m glad I got the commitment and scholarship,” he said, “but there’s really no days off. You still feel like you’ve got to work hard.”
Woods enjoys hard work, which is why showcasing his skills against other college hopefuls appealed to his competitive nature.
“I loved it,” he said. “I love coming to all of these camps … every time they throw a camp. It’s just fun to be here, participating in something with the college, knowing I’m going to be here next year.”
Woods is one of those heart-warming stories about a young man who fulfills a long-time dream by getting a chance to play for his favorite school. Committing was a no-brainer once the Vols asked him to come on board. The key to his decision was, in a word, proximity.
“Just being a home-town boy, raised up in Tennessee,” he said. “I actually live pretty close to Tennessee and hearing the games in my backyard.”
Actually, his “backyard” has changed a bit in recent months. After playing for Lenoir City High last fall, he will be attending Clinton High during the 2014-15 school year and representing the Dragons.
“I just wanted to move back in with my mom,” he said. “She wanted the best for me, and it (transfer) came across our minds and actually worked out for the best.”
Woods believes his decision to attend Tennessee will work out for the best, too. He views himself as one of those hustle guys who elevates the play of those around him.
“I bring a lot of enthusiasm and hype and excitement,” he said.
Whether he plays receiver or cornerback, Woods desperately needs to put some added bulk on his spindly 170-pound frame to withstand the rigors of SEC football. His plans for the years to come suggest he is acutely aware of this.
“My goal is to put on more weight, of course,” he said, “and just fall in line with being a Tennessee Vol.”