Thursday Evening Practice Report

KNOXVILLE - The Vols wrapped up the first of only two two-a-days on Thursday afternoon. The second practice of the day showed Phillip Fulmer he has an extremely young team on defense. However, according to Fulmer, there is plenty of talent within that youth.

"Ability will overtake experience," Fulmer said.

The Vols head into the 2004 season with voids to fill in both the secondary and at defensive tackle. Three of the four defensive backs from last year are vying for spots in the NFL. Neither of the team's starting tackles from a year ago will be around in 2004 either.

"You start looking around for old guys on defense and there's not that many," Fulmer said. "(Kevin) Burnett's started a year and a half. Parys (Haralson) has started a year. Jason Allen (has played). Not much past that have played a whole lot here."

A similar youth movement is taking shape at the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball. However, Fulmer seems a bit more confident with that group's ability to make plays.

"At any of the positions you need some dynamics," Fulmer said. "(Jayson) Swain and (Robert) Meacham give us some playmakers and it's great to see (Gerald) Riggs break a few tackles. Whoever the best people are that give us the best chance to win, that's what we're going to do."

The jury is still out as to which quarterback will be the best fit for this team.

"C.J. (Leak) had a good day today," Fulmer said. "He's done fine. For the most part he's thrown the ball on time and handled the huddle."

As for the true freshman signal-callers, Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, no news is good news.

"I didn' see anything that discouraged me but I didn't see anything that excited me either,"Fulmer said.

Leak and Rick Clausen did work on the no-huddle offense and the two-minute drill. Ainge and Schaeffer did not participate due to their lack of experience.

"They're not quite ready for all that stuff yet," Fulmer said.

Fulmer is ready for Saturday's scrimmage, though. Both Friday's work-out and the weekend work should go a long way in determining how the snaps are divided from now until game week.

"Everything is kind of aimed at the scrimmage," Fulmer said.

"Tomorrow will be it and we'll start narrowing down what we do on both sides of the ball. We need to get every live look we can "

Fulmer did pay homage to a couple of young players on the rise following the first few days in full pads. Fullback Cory Anderson and tight end Chris Brown have both caught the head coach's eye.

"I think Cory has had a heck of a camp," Fulmer said. "I think he's a really good prospect. He'll continue to work and grow into the position. He could be an all-conference type player."

Brown has stepped into the limelight because last year's starter, Victor McClure, has been out since Tuesday with a sprained shoulder.

"I‚m real impressed with Chris Brown," Fulmer said. "He's not quite the prototypical looking tight end. He's got lots of punch and he'll hit you. He's a quick learner."

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