Kicking the habit

The good news: James Wilhoit didn't miss many of the field goals he attempted during the early stages of Tuesday's Tennessee football practice. The better news: The ones he did miss tended to be wide left.

Wilhoit had nagging pain in his right foot last season that caused him to be wide right on several kicks, including a near-fatal missed PAT vs. Florida. After offseason surgery and rehabilitation, however, he seems to be kicking better than ever. He was booming the ball high, long and generally straight on Tuesday

With the Vols facing one of their toughest schedules ever, Wilhoit's foot could be the difference in several games. Based on the early returns, that foot is healthy again.

Freshman Britton Colquitt, Tennessee's first-team punter, also tried a few field goals. He has plenty of leg but doesn't kick the ball with as much height or end-over-end spin as Wilhoit.

Ryan Fusco is also in the kicking competition. He did not have a particularly good day Tuesday, kicking several low knuckleballs.

Walk-on receiver Casey Woods appears likely to win the job as holder for placements. He's the son of Alabama assistant and former South Carolina head man Sparky Woods.

Several freshmen served as deep men in a skeleton kick-return drill. They were receiver Lucas Taylor (No. 12), defensive back Demetrice Morley (20), tailback LaMarcus Coker (22), defensive back Marsalous Johnson (31) and tailback Montario Hardesty (34).

Vol veterans Chris Hannon, Inky Johnson and David Yancey also got some return work in the kick-return drill. Basically, four blockers formed a wedge, and the return man followed them a few yards before bursting upfield. One of the players used to form the four-man wedge was 6-6, 355-pound Albert Toeaina.

Now THAT's a wedge right there …

John Painter, UT sports information director for football, confirmed that David Yancey is no longer on scholarship. The walk-on from Norfolk, Va., earned a scholarship for 2004 with his dedicated work on the practice field but the Vols are at the 85-man scholarship limit since 25 of their 27 Class of 2005 signees qualified for admission.

As Painter put it: "They had room for him last year. Right now they don't."

We'll have a complete report on UT's first day in full pads – including quotes from head coach Phillip Fulmer – posted by around 7:15 this evening.


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