A look at Vol surprises

With UT football season just nine days away, here's my take on the most pleasant and unpleasant surprises of the preseason. You'll notice there are nearly twice as many of the former (13) as the latter (7).

Please keep in mind that the pleasant surprises could still falter and the unpleasant surprises have plenty of time to still redeem themselves.

Pleasant surprises

Erik Ainge, QB. He's the purest passer at UT since Tony Robinson.
Brent Schaeffer, QB. He's the most electrifying Vol QB since Condredge Holloway.
Chris Brown, TE. He's got everything you want except experience.
• Arron Sears, OT. He looks better each time you watch him.
Robert Meachem, WR. Believe the hype. The guy can be THAT good.
Cory Anderson, FB. Imagine Troy Fleming with a bigger body and a better attitude.
Jesse Mahelona, DT. Juco transfer plays like a larger Parys Haralson (all-out effort).
• Gerald Riggs, RB. He seems focused, healthy and productive ... finally.
Omar Gaither, LB. UT's most underrated 'backer since Eric Westmoreland.
• Roshaun Fellows, DB. He doesn't wow you but the guy's always making plays.
Jonathan Hefney, RS. He could be UT's best return specialist in years.
Arian Foster, RB. If he doesn't make a mark in 2004, he will in 2005.
Dustin Colquitt, P. Believe it or not, he looks even better than last year.

Unpleasant surprises

Jayson Swain, WR. He's dropping too many catchable passes this preseason.
Rick Clausen, QB. Lack of arm strength keeps him from stretching a defense.
Albert Toeaina, OT. ''Big Toe'' is still struggling to master blocking techniques.
Cedric Houston, RB. His lack of vision and instincts is more noticeable than ever.
Brad Cottam, TE. Nagging injuries continue to slow his development.
• All of the safeties. When will someone take the bull by the horns?
James Wilhoit, PK. He seems more accurate outside 40 yards than inside 40.


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