Wade tabbed UT's most improved

Tennessee's football program finally got Jonathan Wade on track … by getting him off the track.

After spending three previous springs running sprints for the Track Vols, Wade concentrated on becoming a better cornerback for the Football Vols this year. That decision helped earn him the Andy Spiva Award as Tennessee's most improved defensive player, an honor he shares with redshirt freshman defensive tackle Dan Williams.

Asked how much it helped Wade to focus on spring football instead of outdoor track, defensive coordinator John Chavis responded without hesitation.

"I think it's the difference," the coordinator said. "We had him the entire time. He was totally committed, mentally and physically. The more you do it, the better you should get, and I think it made a big difference in his play."

By devoting himself to football this spring, Jonathan Wade finally has begun to utilize the eye-popping speed and agility that could make the 6-0, 185-pound senior an elite pass defender.

"Jonathan's probably made his biggest step, in terms of becoming a consistent player that's going to give you the same level of play every day," Chavis said. "Jonathan really became a technician. He's grown and matured. He's more physical. There are a lot of things we're excited about that Jonathan has shown us through spring practice."

Chavis also praised Williams, noting that the 6-3, 320-pound Memphian "has done a tremendous job of getting himself ready to play. A big part of that was losing the weight and getting to where he could run well enough to play on our side of the football."

Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe was just as pleased with the spring performance of offensive tackle Steven Jones, a 6-4, 305-pound junior voted the most improved offensive player of the spring.

"From Day One, even when we were out there in shorts, his demeanor was what you want in a football player," Cutcliffe said. "He has worked extremely hard and has continued to improve every week … every practice. He's certainly deserving of that award."

With spring practice nearly completed, Wade is listed first-team at left cornerback, Williams third-team (behind Turk McBride and Demonte Bolden) at left defensive tackle and Jones second-team (behind Eric Young) at right offensive tackle.


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