Pearson reinstated, Johnson experiment, more

The fourth practice of Tennessee's fall camp began Friday with the announcement of Von Pearson's reinstatement to the football program. Butch Jones detailed that and more as the Vols prepare for the 2015 season.

Tennessee’s football team reinstated wide receiver Von Pearson on Friday, ending a program suspension that began April 24 when Pearson was named a suspect in a sexual assault allegation.

The senior wide out was never charged with the crime and was cleared by the Knox County district attorney’s office Wednesday after it was determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

“We were informed today, so we reinstated him,” Jones said. "He’ll begin practice tomorrow (Saturday) with the team."

Jones knows he’ll have to ease Pearson back onto the field after missing time, something he's prepared to do as the senior rejoins the squad.

“He’s going to have to work his way back into football shape and he’s going to have to earn playing time. There is no entitlement in our football program,” Jones said. “Before he’s ready to go on the field, he’s going to have to earn it because we have some players who have done some very good things.”

Pearson caught 38 passes for 393 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns in 2014.

Johnson switches positions

Jones also announced Friday sophomore Jakob Johnson saw time at tight end as Tennessee continues to shuffle players around to find homes for everyone.

"We tried Jakob Johnson a little bit at tight end, trying to get more competition in that spot," Jones said. "I want to see a little bit on video of how he did, but Jakob is an individual who will do anything to help the football team."

The third-year coach said he wasn’t able to even finish his second sentence informing Johnson of the move before the 6-foot-4, 240-pound hybrid linebacker/defensive lineman told his coach it wouldn’t matter where he put him.

“I brought him in today and I got about one sentence out of my mouth before he said, ‘I love this football team and I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win.'”

Dime that’s top of the line

Tennessee has the talent in its secondary to implement a dime package on sure passing downs, something the Vols were virtually unable to do last season. Safety Todd Kelly Jr. knows the coaching staff will do what's best for the defense to succeed, and he acknowledged he and his fellow defensive backs are confident in executing whatever the coaching staff installs.

“At the end of the day, we just do what the coaches say and try to make plays,” Kelly said. “Wherever they put us it’s for the success of the defense, so that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

A dime package would leave the potential for Jalen Reeves-Maybin to be the only linebacker on the field. With the growth of his defensive backs from last season to this one coupled with a fierce duo of defensive ends coming off the edge, it isn’t a proposition that has him worried.

“(The dime package) is not fully developed yet. We’ve only got a few calls in. It’s not really nothing tough mentally right now,” Reeves-Maybin said. “It’s easy, just seeing those guys come off the edge and seeing how much faster we look as a group. It’s really been great.”

Hurd mentality

Sophomore Jalen Hurd added some well-documented bulk to his frame over the offseason, increasing his weight to 242 pounds.

“I just worked hard,” Hurd said about how he added the weight. “I stuck to a really strict eating regimen through the spring and the summer, and it helps me a lot with my explosiveness, and my speed is about the same or faster. I feel good.”

The No. 1 running back on the depth chart said he feels more explosive and durable with his added weight and that it hasn’t affected his speed at all. Hurd, who is hoping to build on a solid freshman season in which he rushed for 899 yards and five touchdowns on 190 carries in 2014, sees a difference in his knowledge of the game in pass protection, run protection and blitz protection. But he noted he’s still working to better himself in all areas as he preps as the starter heading into the season.

“You can never get a big head in this game because there’s always someone that’s going to be pushing you to get better,” Hurd said. “(I have) the same work ethic, staying consistent and just trying to get as prepared as we can going into the season.”

Butch Jones talks Day 4 of fall camp

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