Gerald Jones ready to help

He played quarterback in high school, so most Tennessee football fans figured it would take him a while to get adapt to playing wide receiver.

They were right. Gerald Jones need nearly a week to start looking comfortable at his college position. Unfortunately, he needed only another week to get hurt. A pulled hamstring in August kept the 6-0, 185-pounder from Oklahoma City on the shelf until earlier this week. Now he's back on the practice field and trying to make up for lost time.

"It's very good to see him back out there," receivers coach Trooper Taylor said this week. "You're always trying to build depth on your football team, getting young guys better."

Jones' hamstring injury was so severe that it was a potentially season-ending setback. His dedicated work rehabbing it has enabled him to return quicker than anticipated.

"I really wasn't sure if he was going to have to redshirt or not after the hamstring injury," Taylor said. "He's really worked his butt off. If he's not in class he's in that training room. That's the sign of a kid maturing, plus a guy that wants to be back out there.

"Most kids probably would've folded the tent and rode it out because he had a green light to take it easy.

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rated Jones the No. 22 prospect in America last winter. He was Oklahoma's Gatorade Player of the Year for football in 2006 and a starter for the state championship basketball team in 2005. Tennessee's coaches considered him an elite athlete when they signed him last February.

"I still do," Taylor said. "You see flashes of it. When he's really healthy and back, people will see that we really didn't miss on that kid. He's a great athlete and he's an outstanding student, too."

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