Adkins seeking versatile Vols

The ideal scenario for an offensive line coach is to have a lot of guys capable of playing a few positions. Plan B is to find a few guys that can play a lot of positions. Plan B is the challenge facing Tennessee's Greg Adkins this spring.

Minus 2005 starters Albert Toeaina, Cody Douglas and Rob Smith, plus part-time starter Richie Gandy, Adkins is left with a group of linemen long on potential but short on experience. Beyond Arron Sears, the most experienced returnees are David Ligon (four starts), Eric Young (two starts), Ramon Foster (two starts) and Anthony Parker (one start). Those five comprise the first-team O-line this spring.

None of the other blockers has ever started a college game. Cameron Mayo, Chris Scott, Josh McNeil and Malcom Rawls have never PLAYED in a varsity game. Steven Jones and walk-on Michael Frogg have seen little more than mop-up duty.

In spite of this overwhelming lack of experience and depth, the offensive line performed reasonably well in Saturday's first spring scrimmage.

"We got a lot of people a lot of work at different positions," Adkins said. "That's what we're trying to do – establish some depth where we can move some guys around and ultimately see what's going to end up being our best combination up front. I thought there were some good things but certainly some things we can work on."

Because the line depth is so thin, preparing guys like Foster, Parker and Jones to play several positions is vital.

"No question," Adkins said. "The bottom line is that I'm charged with getting the best five guys on the field. The more they can play multiple positions, the more they'll understand the overall responsibility of the line as far as protections and things."

The most pleasant surprise thus far has been Jones, son of former Tennessee Titans player Mike Jones.

"I've been really happy with Steve Jones," Adkins said. "Steve looks a lot more athletic, a lot quicker. He's competing. He's playing four positions for me right now – right tackle, left tackle, right guard, left guard. If I had to say one guy has stood out, it'd be Steve Jones at this point."

The player with the most unrealized potential is probably Scott. The talented redshirt freshman reported grossly overweight last August and spent the past six months trimming down.

"Chris Scott is still in a learning process," Adkins said. "Athletically, he's coming on because he did lose some weight. We've got to see if he can end up being good enough to play on the edge for us."

Scott isn't the only O-lineman who has dropped some weight. Several have shed some poundage in order to gain more mobility. Based on Saturday's scrimmage, the Vols are going to run more screens and sweeps that require agile linemen.

"We tried some stuff out on the perimeter, and we were successful with some things," Adkins conceded. "But a lot of it was to do with the back; it wasn't necessarily what we got done in the offensive line."

He paused thoughtfully before adding:

"At least we're headed in the right direction. That's something we can build on."


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