Saturday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE,TN.-Predictably, the first football practice of the season left more questions than answers. However, head coach Phillip Fulmer did walk away from Saturday afternoon's work-out with some much needed information. Most of the news revolved around the newcomers.

The biggest question of the off-season centered on the quarterback position. Since the end of spring drills, Fulmer has said that the position belongs to C.J. Leak until further notice. Leak did nothing to loosen his grasp on the starting job during the first two-and-a half-hours of the season. "I was pleased with what C.J. did," Fulmer said. "He picked up right where he left off in the spring. When it got to be 11 on 11 he handled himself pretty well and on-time and that's what we're going to ask him to do."

As for the incoming freshman, Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge were in the crosshairs of almost every onlooker.

"The young quarterbacks were young quarterbacks," Fulmer said. "They did okay. They're ahead of some, but not where they needed to be yet to play right now. You wouldn't expect that. The first time they got in the huddle they didn't studder. They got it all out of their mouth's and we've had quarterbacks that couldn't do that."

On the defensive side of the football, Tennessee enters the season with major holes at defensive tackle and in the secondary. With the suspension of Matt McGlothlin and Greg Jones taking a red-shirt year, the Vols have only three defensive tackles with division-one experience.

Jesse Mahelona, a junior college transfer will be counted on heavily to provide a run-stopping presence. True freshman Ell Ash will also get a look to provide some depth on the defensive line.

Positions in the secondary will be hotly contested week in and week out. Despite the fact that there are plenty of players to tinker with, the overall experience of the group leaves alot to be desired.

Jason Allen and Jonathan Wade look like they will begin pre-season drills as the top two cornerbacks. However, don't be surprised to see another first year player getting some snaps and fighting for repetitions.

Jonathan Hefney enters the season with plenty of credentials after playing at a prep-school last year.

"I was really encouraged by Jon Hefney today," said Fulmer. "He made some plays today in the secondary."

Brandon Johnson and Corey Campbell look like the duo to beat out for either safety position, too. Johnson, a juco transfer last year looks to improve upon his limited play from the 2003 campaign. Campbell is shooting to grow into the position that was thrust upon him when last year's starter, Rashad Baker, was injured.

James Banks, although he is suspended for the first three games of the season could also be a factor in the secondary. Banks wore a white jersey on Saturday, signifying he was a member of the defensive squad. The junior also pulled double-duty taking some snaps at wide receiver.

Banks wearing a white jersey may have been a bit of a surprise. However, for the first time in a long time, no player wore a green no-contact jersey.

Among the players and signees not in attendance on Saturday, cornerback Antwan Stewart was out of action because of a knee injury sustained during spring practice. Wide receiver Jomo Fagan did not participate in drills due to a stress fracture in his left foot. Arian Foster and Demonte Bolden haven't reported to campus yet either. The two incoming freshman are still waiting to hear if they have qualified. Foster is thought to be in a better situation than Bolden. Should Bolden not get a passing test score on the ACT, he would most likely attend Hargrave Military Academy.

The Vols practice again on Sunday. Wednesday will be the first day in pads. Thursday is the first day of two-a-days. UT will hold its first scrimmage on Saturday.


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