Tennessee's Game 1 depth chart shows Lucas Taylor, who caught 73 balls for 1,000 yards last season, will start at one receiver spot. Jones, who has blossomed in recent weeks after catching just 11 balls for 111 yards in 2007, will start at the other. The depth chart shows the third receiver spot will be manned by either Rogers or Briscoe.
Clearly, this suggests that Jones has emerged as the Vols' No. 2 receiver heading into the 2008 opener. What enabled him to do so?
"I think Gerald picked up where he left off in the spring," offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. "He had a really good spring, and everything he's done this camp so far has served to build on what he did in the spring. He's going to start for us, and we're going to try to get him the football."
Vol receivers coach Latrell Scott agreed that Jones turned some heads with his strong showing last spring, then solidified his status as a first-team receiver with a superior preseason camp.
"I think he's understanding the position a lot better," Scott said. "Gerald was a high school quarterback and was hurt a lot of last year while jumping in there and playing receiver. Making the quarterback-receiver transition, coverage-wise, it helps you a lot because you know what's going on. But just running routes and learning to read defenses from a receiver's standpoint was something he had to get better at, and he's done a great job of doing that."
To date, Jones is best-known for running the "G-Gun Package," which finds him lined up as a direct-snap tailback. It's very similar to the shotgun quarterback role he played back at Millwood High School in Oklahoma City. Jones carried eight times out of the G-Gun for 58 yards in 2007, an average of 7.2 yards per rush. He threw a touchdown pass from the formation in the Orange & White Game last April.
The obvious question: How much will Tennessee use the G-Gun in the opener?
"That depends on how the game goes," Clawson said. "We don't want to give that away. We certainly have a package with that in it. Going from game to game, based on how it's defended, we could run it a lot or we could run it a little. Can we get the ball in his hands in other ways? That's a way that we're sure the ball is in his hands."