Banks makes his bid-Wednesday Afternoon Scrimmage

The metamorphosis of <!--Default NodeId For James Banks is 669100,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:669100]>James Banks</A> from pass-thrower to pass-catcher is progressing nicely.

Spending most of his time at receiver, Banks made the play of the day in Wednesday evening's controlled scrimmage at Lower Hudson Field. Sensing a cornerback blitz, he signalled as much to quarterback C.J. Leak. Banks then streaked past a safety and caught roughly a 25-yard strike from Leak. Belted by safety O.J. Owens a split-second after the ball arrived, Banks somehow held on as he was slammed to the turf.

''That was a good play by James, with the safety being right there,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said. ''Most guys would've let that one out of there. But James is a flash here, a flash there. He's got to become more consistent as a football player.''

Banks described the play this way: ''It was just a blitz reaction. The corner came up and blitzed. I was supposed to do a hitch but the safety came up too hard, so I ran by him. C.J. made a good throw and I made the catch. I'm still in a little daze (from Owens' big hit) but that's what college ball is all about.''

No one ever questioned whether Banks had the athleticism to play wide receiver. The big concerns were his hands and his toughness. Wednesday's big play may have alleviated some of those concerns.

''I believe it's good to take those kind of hits in practice because then you're ready for them (in games),'' he said. ''I didn't see him (Owens) coming but I knew he was right there.''

Oddly enough, Banks feels he's made the most progress as a wideout in the area of conditioning.

''There's a lot more running involved, cutting and you have to block,'' he said. ''There's more thinking at quarterback but at receiver you're thinking on the run. It's a little different but I'm getting adjusted to it.''


Tennessee's defense, embarrassed in some scrimmage work on Tuesday, came out smoking in Wednesday's rematch. The stop unit seemed to fizzle as the workout neared its completion, however, enabling the offense to dominate the final few series.

''We came out pretty strong in the beginning, then kind of lost our stinger there toward the end of practice,'' linebacker Robert Peace said. ''We've got to learn to finish.''

Fulmer saw it the same way.

''Yesterday the offense got the best of it,'' the head man said. ''Today the defense came out ready and set a real good tempo. Obviously, when we did the coming-out (from the goal line) part of the scrimmage, it was entirely different ... a very, very good effort on our offensive part.''

Even with Michael Munoz and Cody Douglas resting minor injuries, Tennessee's offensive line opened some nice holes that produced some good rushing gains.

''I think we're going to be able to run the ball,'' Fulmer said. ''All of our backs are hitting it hard and our line's made some progress. Our backs can make some plays for our line if they (linemen) just give 'em a chance.''

Backs Cedric Houston, Troy Fleming, Gerald Riggs, Jabari Davis and Corey Larkins all had runs over 10 yards during the scrimmage. Riggs and Davis had fumbles, however.

Scrimmage notes: Freshman defensive back Jarod Parrish stepped in front of a Bo Hardegree pass intended for Bill Grimes and would've had a touchdown return except he dropped the interception.... The Vols hold their first full-scale scrimmage of the season on Saturday.

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