The punting puzzle was temporarily solved Wednesday.
After a three-man battle that waged throughout fall camp, walk-on Trevor Daniel was announced as the starter heading into Saturday’s opener against Bowling Green. The redshirt sophomore from Dixon, Tennessee, emerged as the starting punter after a three-man battle between him, Maryland transfer Nate Renfro and freshman Tommy Townsend that waged all throughout fall camp.
“I’ll tell you right now, Trevor Daniel will have the first punt of the year, so Trevor Daniel will go into the game being our starting punter,” Butch Jones said at his Wednesday press conference.
The competition is still ongoing, however, despite Daniel’s starting nod. Jones expects both Renfro and Townsend to continue to push the redshirt sophomore and all three will travel with the team Saturday.
“Again, that’s a position where Nate Renfro has done a really good job. Tommy Townsend’s done a very good job, and both those two other individuals will both travel,” Jones said. “This will be an ongoing competition, just like it is at every single position for us. It’s all performance-based, but all three individuals have done a very good job. We just thought at this point in time, Trevor’s been more consistent at this point."
Linebacker Quart’e Sapp practiced some with the safeties Tuesday in a move Butch Jones said was made to create a little more depth at the position and versatility in his freshman player.
“Just from a depth standpoint, we’ll continue to move him around and that’s a tribute to his athleticism and his ability to learn,” Jones said. “He’s doing a very good job at linebacker, but also we have to be prepared for anything.”
Jones described Malik Foreman’s work at the nickel position as “ongoing” and a “work in progress” on Wednesday. Expectations are for the junior from Kingsport to enter the game when Tennessee goes into its five defensive backs package.
“I’ve liked his approach,” Jones said. “I’ve liked what he’s brought to the table in terms of practice etiquette and teachability. He’s dibbled and dabbled in that spot in the past. He has done a good job.”
Justin Martin missed a portion of fall camp with a knee sprain, and the sophomore corner is working his way back to being completely healthy for Tennessee’s opener. The Vols expect the Northeast Oklahoma A&M transfer to be a big contributor to the secondary at corner, but his rehabilitation coming off an injury is still ongoing.
“Justin’s continued to improve each and every day from a health standpoint,” Jones said. “Justin is very, very competitive, very, very eager. It’s just any time you miss the inordinate amount of practice repetitions that Justin has missed, it sets you back.”
Preparing No. 2 for action
Backup quarterback Quinten Dormady needs to be ready to play Saturday according to his head coach. Jones said the possibility of the freshman playing “could happen” depending on what happens during the contest.
“Quinten has had a very, very good week of preparation,” Jones said. “He understands the game plan. Obviously, he has a little bit of a different game plan that will play to his strengths. I’ve been very proud of his approach.”
Butch on SEC teleconference