Rating the rookies (offense)

With depth issues cropping up throughout the lineup, Tennessee's football team relied heavily on freshmen during the 2009 regular season. Several of the rookies came through in a big way.

Here's a look at the five offensive freshmen who had the greatest impact during the regular season:

1. Aaron Douglas, tackle: A redshirt freshman, he supplanted Jarrod Shaw as the No. 1 right tackle in Game 4 and started the last nine regular-season games. He was tabbed SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Nov. 9 after grading out at 90 percent in Game 9 vs. Memphis but actually graded out higher (91 percent) a week earlier against South Carolina. Named to the Coaches' Freshman All-SEC team earlier this week, the 6-6, 296-pounder likely will switch to left tackle next season, since the Chick fil-A Bowl will be Chris Scott's final college game.

2. Bryce Brown, tailback: Rated the No. 1 prospect in America by Scout.com when he signed last spring, he had to wait his turn in 2009 since first-team tailback Montario Hardesty had a superior senior season. Still, Brown carried 101 times for 460 yards and 3 touchdowns as the chief backup. He averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry with a long run of 37 yards vs. South Carolina. Brown also caught 10 passes for 137 yards and another TD. The 6-0, 215-pounder projects to be the centerpiece of Tennessee's attack in 2010.

3. Marsalis Teague, wide receiver: He made a smashing debut, leading UT in catches (6) and receiving yards (86) in Game 1 vs. Western Kentucky. He caught just 7 passes for 61 yards in Games 2-12 but still finished the regular season with 13 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He started the first four games, then settled for a backup role once juniors Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore got healthy. Teague averaged 11.3 yards per catch with a long of 24 vs. WKU.

4. David Oku, tailback/return specialist: Although he was the No. 3 tailback, Oku made his greatest impact on special teams. He returned 30 kickoffs for 780 yards, an average of 26.0 per runback, with a long of 69 yards vs. Memphis. As a tailback he had 23 carries for 94 yards (4.1 per carry) and two touchdowns. The 5-10, 186-pounder also caught two passes for another 13 yards.

5. Zach Rogers, wide receiver: He got off to a promising start, catching two passes for 17 yards in the first two games, then recorded just one two-yard reception the rest of the season. The 6-2, 170-pound speedster should be a much bigger factor once he gains much-needed weight and experience.


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