Wideout update

The pending transfers of sophomores Ahmad Paige and Tyler Maples has reduced the quantity of Tennessee's wide receiver corps by two, but at least one Vol coach is quite pleased with the quality of the wideout group.

"That whole group of kids has worked their hind-ends off to get better and learn the new route systems we're putting in," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said recently. "A few things are completely foreign to them – like how we call a route – so they're having to learn a new language."

The Vol aide said the task facing Tennessee's wideouts is akin to asking a right-handed person to try writing left-handed in that "the results are not going to look real good at first."

Chaney saw gradual progress during spring practice, however, and believes the wide receivers will continue to make steady improvement when preseason skills begin in August.

"It takes a little while to learn a new skill," the coordinator said, "and that's we're asking those guys to do."

One Vol wideout learned the new passing scheme so quickly that he was tabbed Most Improved Offensive Player of spring practice. That would be senior Quintin Hancock.

"Quintin has done an outstanding job for us," Chaney said. "From the first (January) practice at 6 a.m. that young man has been into exactly what we're trying to do, as far as effort and physical play. He's done a marvelous job."

Hancock, a 6-3, 207-pounder from St. Augustine, Fla., did not catch a pass last fall but led all Vol receivers in spring scrimmages with 12 receptions for 159 yards.

"He indicates by his actions that he understands what we want to get done," Chaney said. "He flies around the football field. He shows up day in and day out. He plays football the way we want, and we're real pleased with how Quintin's done it."

Gerald Jones, who led the Vols with 30 receptions in 2008, had a relatively quiet spring, catching just six balls for 52 yards in the three major scrimmages. Chaney isn't worried, however, noting that "Gerald has proved he's a playmaker."

Vol coaches also believe they have potential playmakers at tight end. Senior Jeff Cottam (6-8, 260) missed the scrimmages due to knee problems but is a returning starter. Junior Luke Stocker (6-6, 245) showcased receiving skills in spring practice, as did converted fullback Ben Bartholomew (6-2, 250).

"Jeff Cottam was having an excellent spring practice for us till he got an injury to his knee and we tried to tone him down a little bit," Chaney noted. "Luke Stocker did a real nice job. As far as a vertical threat, Luke possesses the ability to do some things that we didn't know about in the beginning.

"We're real pleased with that position. Those two really stood out and did a nice job."

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