Spring review: WRs

Tennessee's new pro-style offense, like the one Lane Kiffin coordinated at Southern Cal, features a strong emphasis on the quick passing game and requires physical receivers.

The obvious question: Do the Vols have physical receivers who also are capable?

Apparently so. A compilation of the receiving statistics from Tennessee's three spring scrimmages shows that the three most physical receivers – Quintin Hancock (6-3, 207 pounds), Denarius Moore (6-1, 190 pounds) and Brandon Warren (6-2, 216 pounds) – also were the three most productive receivers.

Hancock caught 12 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Saving his best for last, he starred in the Orange & White Game with 8 receptions for 96 yards and a TD. The rising senior has enjoyed strong spring and preseason showings before, of course, only to disappear when the live bullets start flying in September. Perhaps this year will be different.

Moore finished the spring with eight scrimmage catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. He suffered a few drops during earlier practices but exhibited dependable hands in the spring game, catching three balls for 47 yards.

Warren, a converted tight end, looks to be adapting nicely to his new outpost. He caught seven balls for 84 yards and a touchdown in the spring scrimmages. Like Hancock, he finished with a flourish, catching four passes for 50 yards and two TDs in the Orange & White Game.

Junior Gerald Jones, the odds-on favorite to be Tennessee's "go-to guy" in 2009, had a relatively quiet spring as the coaching staff looked at other options. Jones caught one ball for zero yards in the first scrimmage, three balls for 36 yards in the second and two for 26 yards in the third. All told, his six spring receptions netted 62 yards. He'll be more productive in September; count on it.

One wideout who improved his stock during the spring was sophomore Tyler Maples. The Maryville native caught five passes for 54 yards and showed some elusiveness, albeit against mostly second- and third-team defenders.

Like Jones, rising senior Austin Rogers seems to have earned the confidence of the coaching staff without making a bunch of scrimmage catches. The 6-2, 190-pounder finished with four receptions for 47 yards, flashing a nifty inside move on a 16-yard TD grab in the O&W Game.

Sophomore Todd Campbell caught just two passes for 34 yards in the three scrimmages but made enough plays in practice to suggest that he's well ahead of where he was a year ago.

The other scholarship receiver, Ahmad Paige, also caught two passes for 34 yards in spring scrimmages, including an 11-yard touchdown grab in the O&W Game. He subsequently decided to leave the program, however.

Three February signees will be joining the mix in August – four-star prospect Nu'Keese Richardson (Pahokee, Fla.), four-star prospect James Green (Tallahassee, Fla.) and three-star prospect Zach Rogers (Nashville) – and all could have immediate impact.

Richardson, who played mostly quarterback in high school, caught 22 passes for 373 yards (16.9 per catch) and three touchdowns last fall. Green caught 45 passes for 807 yards (17.9 per catch) and 10 touchdowns. Rogers converted 14 receptions into 369 yards, an eye-popping average of 26.4 yards per catch, last fall.


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