'Big' news at tailback

With six players already competing at tailback, you'd think Tennessee's football staff would be looking to thin the ranks, not expand them. But the Vols made a big addition to their tailback corps – emphasis on BIG – when 6-3, 275-pound fullback Cory Anderson got some practice reps in a goal line drill Wednesday morning.

"Cory Anderson looked pretty good at tailback out there," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "The big guy going up and over … that was good to see."

Whether Anderson plays any tailback away from the goal line remains to be seen but the imposing junior from Knoxville's Austin-East High School certain has the agility to do so. He caught 17 passes out of the backfield last fall, turning two into touchdowns. One of these was a 40-yarder vs. Vanderbilt. Anderson carried just five times from scrimmage last fall but averaged a whopping 10.6 yards per attempt. Clearly, he has the tools to be more than just a lead blocker for Gerald Riggs, Jr.

"He's improved a tremendous amount, and he's a really important cog in our team," Fulmer said. "I want him to be more in the mode of a runner when we go to our one-back stuff. We're looking at some things even out of two-back sets he can do.

"He's a good blocker and a good pass receiver. I'd like to get it where we don't take him off the field, except to rest him occasionally."

Asked if he expects to surpass last year's total of 22 touches -- five carries and 17 catches, Anderson smiled.

"I think so," he said. "Based on the plays I made last year, I think they'll give me the ball more. But I think I'm better used in the passing game. They don't have too many running plays for me."

Although Anderson is getting some work at tailback on an experimental basis, he's convinced the Vols' young tailbacks – redshirt freshmen Arian Foster and JaKouri Williams, true freshmen LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty – are going to be just fine.

"All of ‘em are pretty good," he said. "I can't really say which one stands out because all of ‘em are making plays."

Anderson admitted he's been helping the young backs with their assignments, keys, etc. He's also trying to keep them upbeat as they struggle with the inevitable growing pains.

"They're going to make mistakes because they're young," he said. "You get on ‘em when they do something wrong but you keep trying to give them confidence. You don't let ‘em get down on themselves, so they don't keep making the same mistakes."


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