Fulmer on newcomers

Thirteen practice sessions are complete and 14 remain until Tennessee opens its 2006 football season against California on Sept. 2. The Vols continued their busy week by working in full pads for better than two hours Wednesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer said the team will go through limited scrimmage situations during their twin practice sessions Thursday, which is the final day of two-a-days. Those game situations also set the stage for Saturday night's full scrimmage session at Neyland Stadium.

"I'm not sure exactly of the number of snaps we will take just yet, but I know we will scrimmage goal line and short-yardage," Fulmer said of Thursday's slate. "Our energy level has been good and we need to keep that up."

Fulmer also said he is starting to tell which of the newcomers can make a difference in 2006.

"Sometimes you think in the early part that certain individuals have a chance, although you often end up getting disappointed. Sometimes you think a guy doesn't really have a chance and he improves a lot.

"But by about now, you pretty much pick the guys you think that if they continue to work and improve will be able to play for us."

The coach says it's a constant shifting of priorities on the practice field, focusing back and forth between the veterans and newcomers.

"The leadership is responding in several areas like you want to see on this football team," Fulmer said. "We still are challenging the younger players and also the older players who maybe haven't lived up to expectations or potential. We'll keep pushing in that area."

Fulmer knows a thing or two about expectations. The dean of SEC head coaches enters his 15th season leading the Volunteers, an impressive number made more so by the fact that a remarkable 42 other individuals have manned head coaching positions at the other 11 conference schools since Fulmer took the reins in 1992.

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