Roshaun Fellows

Just as a cornerback should, Roshaun Fellows has confidence. And just as a cornerback should, he has a short memory.

Fellows doesn't seem to remember that Tennessee ranked last in the SEC in pass defense last season or that the Vols aren't exactly the Sultans of Steal when it comes to interceptions.

Fellows, a freshman All-American last season, is optimistic the Vols' secondary will be a strength this season.

``We've got all the talent in the world back there and we've got the best (secondary) coach in the nation in coach (Larry) Slade,'' Fellows said. ``Once we come together as a unit, we can be as good as we want to be.

``I feel great about the cornerback tandem and I've got a lot of faith in our safeties. Jonathan Hefney and Antwan Stewart are coming along. They're learning a new position. To me, it's an advantage for us because we have four corners on the field at the same time. Antwan and Jonathan can use their corner skills to help in pass coverage.''

Fellows has definite goals for the defensive backs.

``We'd like to lead the nation in interceptions with 25 or 30,'' Fellows said. ``We're capable of doing it. We've got enough athletes out there to do it.''

Perhaps, but based on history, the odds are long. Tennessee hasn't had 25 interceptions in a season since 1971. The Vols have had just three seasons with at least 20 interceptions (1999, 1990, 1985) in the past 33 seasons.

Last season, the Vols had 16 interceptions in 13 games. They had a dozen in 2001 and 2002. They had nine in 2000.

That doesn't faze Fellows. He knows the Vols open the season against UAB quarterback Darrell Hackney, who has passed for more than 6,700 career yards, and Florida's Chris Leak, who led the SEC in passing yards last season.

``That's a big challenge,'' Fellows said. ``I feel if the secondary does bad, we lose. So we've got to do good. We've got to be accountable. That puts a lot more heat on us but we can always handle the heat.''

* Guard Rob Smith said blocking for two 1,000-yard backs last season was a thrill. Blocking for a Heisman Trophy winner would be awesome.

When it was suggested Gerald Riggs might be able to rush for 1,500 yards, Smith had a puzzled look.

``My personal goal was a little bit higher than that,'' he said. ``I was thinking it would be cool to get a least 1,700. I don't know what Heisman numbers are, but I'm sure that has to be pretty good, ain't it? Seventeen hundred yards, that's got to be up there.''

Yes it does. In fact, if Riggs gets 1,716 yards, he would not only set a Tennessee single-season record, he would become the Vols' all-time leading rusher.

``Man, that would be awesome,'' Smith said.

Riggs thinks it would be awesome, also. He also believes it is realistic.

``With the level of success we were able to have last year as a running team, I think it is,'' Riggs said.

Riggs shrugged off thoughts of being a preseason Heisman candidate.

``I'm glad for the recognition, but it's a long season ahead and hopefully I'll be able to live up to those expectations,'' said Riggs, who had 1,107 yards as a backup last year after rushing for just 256 yards his first two seasons.

Riggs says he's capable of carrying 25 times a game. He averaged 15 carries per game last season with a high of 26 against Georgia and Ole Miss in consecutive contests.

``That's what I've been training for my whole life,'' he said of carrying the load. ``At every level I've been asked to do that, not so much here at UT so far. But this will be the year I'll be asked to do it so I think I'm ready.''

* Freshman punter Britton Colquitt said he changed his number from 80 to 47 - the number worn by older brother Dustin -- for a couple of reasons.

``Dustin wanted me to reach some goals he didn't quite reach,'' Britton said. ``And it's kind of like a family number. My family has all this 47 stuff so it just made it easier on everybody.''

Dustin averaged less than 40 yards per punt his first season, coming in at 39.6. What would Britton like to average his first season?

``Around 43 or 44 yards,'' he said. ``That'd be a good goal. Maybe a little higher. I know it'll be tough because I'm going to be really scared out there at the beginning. I just hope I'm prepared enough.''

Britton hopes he can be of the mindset to forget his surroundings and ``let my natural ability take over.''

For the record, Dustin averaged 43.6 yards as a sophomore, 45.3 as a junior and 40.8 as a senior.


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