New faces bolster WR corps

It's entirely possible that Tennessee's top receivers in 2003 will be two guys who were playing other positions in 2002.

Mark Jones has proved to be the Vols' most consistent pass catcher since moving over from safety last spring. And James Banks has provided a much-needed big-play dimension since switching over from quarterback in recent weeks.

How much has the addition of Jones and Banks bolstered the receiver corps?

''A lot,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said this week. ''Mark brings the consistency, the maturity and the ability to make plays. James brings the big-play ability. He's not as consistent, mature or disciplined as he needs to be as a receiver but he can definitely make plays out there. That's the big thing we needed last year. I don't know that the problem's completely solved but we're a whole lot closer to a solution than we were.''

Most likely, UT's top receivers in Saturday's opener with Fresno State will be Jones, Banks, Tony Brown, converted tailback Derrick Tinsley, C.J. Fayton and Chris Hannon. Jonathan Wade has been playing a lot at cornerback lately and heralded freshman Jayson Swain has been slowed by injuries.

Asked how many receivers he expects to use Saturday, Sanders replied: ''Probably six. It could be five, could be seven. How much Swain plays early ... well, it would be doubtful he'd play a lot early.''

Vol coaches are planning to occasionally utilize reserve tailback Corey Larkins as a receiver, much as they did with Tinsley last year.


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