Some spots still up for grabs

Although Tennessee's football opener against Fresno State is just three days away, Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer is unsure who his right tackle, his right guard, his left defensive end, his left defensive tackle, his weakside linebacker and his placement specialist will be.

The right tackle could be senior Sean Young or sophomore Cody Douglas. If Young gets the nod, Douglas could start at right guard, where he is trying to unseat senior Chavis Smith.

On defense, junior Karlton Neal is trying to stave off the challenge of sophomore Parys Haralson at left end. Sophomore Greg Jones is battling walk-on freshman Matt McGlothlin for the left defensive tackle job. Junior Kevin Burnett will be the starting weakside linebacker if his surgically repaired knee permits. If it's sore, though, sophomore Jason Mitchell will get the start.

Perhaps Fulmer's greatest quandary is the placement battle. Redshirt freshman James Wilhoit was clearly ahead coming out of spring practice but senior Phillip Newman closed the gap when Wilhoit missed two PATs in a recent scrimmage. Newman has been pressing for the starting job ever since.

Fulmer conceded that the position is ''undecided'' at the moment, subsequently adding that Newman ''probably will do the kickoffs'' -- a chore he handled quite capably last fall.

The remainder of Tennessee's kicking game is set. Dustin Colquitt has a lock on the punting job after averaging 43.6 yards per kick last fall. Mark Jones and Corey Larkins rank 1-2 on the punt return list, while Larkins and Jonathan Wade are 1-2 on the kickoff return depth chart.

Traditionally, Fresno State is known for its strong kicking game, but the Bulldogs must find replacements for last fall's punter, placekicker and deep snapper. Head coach Pat Hill conceded that this is a concern but Fulmer said he expects ''a great kicking battle'' this Saturday.


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