Brown shows power surge

Reporters who cover Tennessee football don't know if freshman Bryce Brown will be eligible to play in the Sept. 5 opener but they now know why he was rated the No. 1 prospect in America last winter.

Brown, whose status for Game 1 is clouded by an NCAA investigation into summer camps he attended while attending Wichita East High School, showed an impressive blend of speed, power, balance and determination as the Vols held their final full-scale scrimmage of the preseason Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

On his first carry the 6-0, 218-pound tailback bulled his way up the middle for six yards. Two plays later he burrowed up the gut for a gain of 12 yards. Moments later he was met at the line of scrimmage but kept churning and twisting until he finally was grounded after a five-yard gain. Belted in the backfield on his next touch, he bounced off the hit and rambled five yards for a touchdown.

Still hampered by a sore hip, Brown did not play in the second half, finishing his day with four carries for 28 yards and a touchdown. What he did with those four carries, however, had some people buzzing after the scrimmage had ended.

People like Vol defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, for instance.

"He's physical," the UT aide said. "He's a big back with speed. He kind of reminds me of LenDale White that we had at USC. I think he's faster ... very explosive."

Head coach Lane Kiffin was pleased with Brown's work, too, especially the way he was driving tacklers backwards.

"Yes, he did," the head man said. "We didn't know if he was going to go; he was questionable still. But we warmed him up, and he felt about 85 percent. We talked to him right before (starting the scrimmage), so we went ahead and gave him a little bit of action."

Sometimes "a little bit" can mean a lot.

Unofficially, freshman David Oku led the rushers with 45 yards on 14 carries (3.2 per try). Sophomore Tauren Poole added 40 yards on 12 attempts (3.4 per carry) and senior Montario Hardesty 34 yards on six rushes (5.7 per touch).

Poole caught three passses for 24 yards, Oku three for 30. Oku coughed up a fumble, however, and so did Hardesty.

Although he didn't carry the ball all day, fullback Kevin Cooper stood out almost as much as Bryce Brown. Cooper caught two passes - gaining 14 yards on the first and 46 on the second. The 6-0, 247-pound junior also lined up as a slot receiver on at least one occasion.

"He's a little bit lighter," Kiffin said. "He looks better in the passing game but we've got to make sure he's keeping his weight. He got sick and lost about 10 pounds during camp, so we've got to continue and try to gain that weight back."


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