Mitchell to start, after all

Vol football coach Phil Fulmer announced following Thursday's practice that senior Jason Mitchell will start at weakside linebacker Saturday night at Florida, adding that he didn't know who started the "rumor" that redshirt freshman Jerod Mayo would start in Mitchell's place.

Actually, the "rumor" originated with John Chavis. The Vols' defensive coordinator told roughly a dozen reporters at Tuesday's media day that Mayo would be getting his first career start vs. the Gators. Chavis then explained why Mayo deserved to start. The item was published by this site on Tuesday afternoon and in newspapers throughout the state on Wednesday.

Mitchell was listed as questionable at midweek because of a knee injury, so Chavis may have promoted Mayo on the assumption Mitchell would be unable to start … never foreseeing that Mitchell would make a remarkable recovery as the week wore on.

Or maybe Fulmer simply overruled Chavis – much as he overruled running backs coach Trooper Taylor a year ago. Taylor told reporters in August of 2004 that Gerald Riggs and Corey Larkins were Tennessee's top two tailbacks … mere days before Fulmer announced that Cedric Houston would start at tailback in the 2004 opener.

Regardless, here's what Fulmer had to say in announcing that Mitchell will start Saturday night at the Swamp:

"Jason did everything today (in practice) and moved up to probable. Jason is going to start and is going to play. I don't know how much but that helps us a lot. He's worked hard to get himself back."

Overall, the head man was not pleased with the final full-scale workout before Friday's walk-through.

"We got through our Thursday practice, and that's about all I can say," Fulmer said. "We had too many things happen today. It wasn't awful but it wasn't a good day overall.

"I think we're just tired of practicing and we need to play. We've been at it long enough to know that sometimes you have these days and they play great, and other times they do everything right and go play poorly. It was OK, but not nearly what it needs to be."

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