Cory's a story at tailback

Once you get past starter Gerald Riggs, Tennessee's tailback corps resembles a remake of the classic movie "The Odd Couple" … at least in a physical sense.

David Yancey, a 5-8, 198-pound walk-on, is the Vols' second option at tailback. Their third is probably Cory Anderson, a 6-3, 270-pounder who also happens to be the No. 1 fullback.

"We're looking at a lot of great things from Cory because we're going to find ways to get him the football," running backs coach Trooper Taylor said. "He's 270 pounds but he carries himself like he's 170. He can run tailback, he can line up at tight end, he can line up at fullback. I've been here a year and a half and I've only seen him drop three balls, and all of those came in practice. He's just a phenomenal athlete."

Because Anderson is such a phenomenal athlete – and UT has no proven depth behind Riggs – Cory occasionally will line up as the Vols' deep back.

"You'll definitely see him at tailback," Taylor said, grinning broadly as he added: "You'll see A LOT OF FOLKS at tailback. The second back is Yancey but, after that, it's by committee. Yancey's a great story because nobody gave him a shot."

That's a fact. The undersized walk-on was the ultimate long-shot, even though he performed OK in preseason scrimmages, rushing 18 times for 66 yards (3.7 per carry).

The odds-on favorite for the backup job was Arian Foster. A 6-1, 211-pound redshirt freshman with better size, speed and potential, Foster averaged 5.7 yards per rush (23 carries, 130 yards) in the three major scrimmages. LaMarcus Coker showed plenty of speed in preseason scrimmage No. 2, and another true freshman, Montario Hardesty, drew raves before missing time with an injury. With all of these promising candidates available, how did Yancey win the second-team job?

"Hard work and attitude," Taylor said. "He makes plays. He doesn't blow protections. He doesn't miss assignments, and he plays hard when he's out there. Those are the things we ask the backs to do."

Although Yancey did the things he was supposed to do, a bigger key may have been what he DIDN'T do … namely fumble. He coughed up the football on his first carry of the initial preseason scrimmage but never fumbled again. Conversely, Coker and Foster left the ball on the ground several times each. That played a major role in dropping them behind Yancey in the tailback pecking order.

"Without a doubt," Taylor said. "You will NOT play here if you put the ball on the ground. We will not get beat if we don't turn it over. If we turn it over and create a short field for our defense, then we have problems. I'm sending that message early: You will not play if you put the ball on the ground."

Asked if this point has gotten through to Tennessee's younger backs, Taylor smiled wickedly.

"You watch Foster and Coker come through the door with a ball in the arms in the next few minutes," he said, "and you'll see they got that message loud and clear."


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