Frosh DBs in the hunt

With Tennessee's Sept. 3 opener rapidly approaching, a couple of remarkable rookies are mounting serious challenges for playing time at safety.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said following Wednesday's morning workout that freshmen Demetrice Morley and Antonio Wardlow have moved themselves into contention for Game 1 action.

"Morley and Wardlow both have pushed themselves into position to where they're competing – not just for second-team positions but first-team reps," Fulmer said. "Particularly Morley."

Morley is a 6-0, 180-pounder from Miami who was a high school All-American last fall. He recorded five stops in last Saturday's full-scale scrimmage, including a minus-yardage tackle. Wardlow is a 6-1, 185-pounder from Winston-Salem, N.C.

Both freshmen are challenging veterans Corey Campbell, Jarod Parrish, Sinclair Cannon and Ellix Wilson for playing time behind projected starters Antwan Stewart (strong safety) and Jonathan Hefney (free safety).

Tennessee's outlook at cornerback has grown a little muddled, as well. Thanks to a strong showing in Saturday's scrimmage, track star Jonathan Wade edged past Roshaun Fellows for the first-team berth at left cornerback. Wade has since suffered an Achilles injury, however, that has sidelined him for the time being.

"Wade had a chance," Fulmer said. "He moved up to the starting position, and now he's out. That's kind of like getting to the finals, then not being able to run. You've got to push through those kinds of things. I'd like to see him back out here as soon as he can be."

With Wade out, sophomores Inky Johnson and Antonio Gaines are the top backups behind starting corners Fellows and Jason Allen. Unless Campbell, Parrish, Cannon and Wilson make their moves soon, the backup safeties could well be freshmen Morley and Wardlow.

Fulmer said he will not hesitate to play talented freshmen ahead of veterans.

As the head man put it: "I truly believe talent will overtake experience as you go along."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories