Whatever the reason, Fulmer has been tossing bouquets at Fleming all fall. Just this week he noted:
''I can't emphasize enough how important Troy Fleming's been to this whole thing ... without his hands on the ball. He's a heck of a receiver and blocker. It's almost like having a player/coach on the practice field.''
On another occasion, while discussing Tennessee's talented young tailbacks, Fulmer deftly shifted the focus to Fleming. To wit:
''Our young backs deserve the attention they are getting but I guarantee they wouldn't be where they are if it wasn't for Troy Fleming. He is, in my opinion, the finest back in the SEC, a young man who does it all -- blocking, running, catching the ball and running his pass routes. I appreciate his attitude and the leadership he gives our offense.''
Fulmer promised Fleming some snaps at tailback this fall but UT's tailback picture is already overloaded. The Vols played five tailbacks in Game 1 (Cedric Houston, Jabari Davis, Derrick Tinsley, Keldrick Williams and Gerald Riggs, Jr.). Although running backs coach Woody McCorvey says five tailbacks is too many to rotate on a regular basis, Fulmer expects UT to play a bunch of backs again tonight against Middle Tennessee State.
''That's not going to change,'' he said. ''We'll keep rolling (rotating) around there. We actually would like to have gotten Derrick a couple more carries at tailback than he got in the game. During the course of the year, they'll be a good complement to each other. We're off to a good start there. Woody's done a good job with that whole scenario.''