Four years, four coaches

One Tennessee receiver has learned some valuable lessons during his Vol tenure, including this one: Don't get too attached to your position coach.

Gerald Jones is on his fourth receiver coach in four years as a Volunteer. Trooper Taylor coached him as a freshman. Latrell Scott did the honors as a sophomore. Frank Wilson fine-tuned him as a junior. Now it's Charlie Baggett's turn.

Although Tennessee's staff hasn't been very stable lately, Jones' attitude has been remarkably stable. As always, he's focusing on getting better, no matter who his mentor might be.

"This is my senior - my last year - so I'm all about doing whatever I can for this team," he said this week. "I'm all about working my butt off to get where I need to go to help this team.

"I'm not really trying to develop a personal relationship outside of football. That's no shot at nobody else. I'm here for the team, and here to do what I got to do to get a win. I've had so many coaches - I've been through that too many times - I've learned my lesson."

In addition to four position coaches in four years, Jones is adjusting to his third head coach in four years. After spending two seasons under Phillip Fulmer and one under Lane Kiffin, he now finds Derek Dooley calling the shots. Some would find that much upheaval distressing. Not Jones.

"I look at it in a positive way," he said. "Being in three or four different offenses is actually a plus to me. Next year, if God blesses me enough, I'll be in another offense (at the NFL level), and I'll be able to catch on faster. I'll be used to it. It'll just be another year for me, so I'm actually happy."

Jones admitted that he has "about four or five playbooks in my locker right now," but says the newest one isn't that different from its most recent predecessor. This year's offense, he believes, won't be substantially different from last year's.

"It's very similar," he said. "The only thing different is the terminology. We use a number system instead of a word system.

Smoothing the adjustment to a new offensive system is the return Jim Chaney, back for his second year as offensive coordinator. He gives the offense a coach who is familiar with the veteran players, and vice-versa.

"That's big because he knows a lot of the personnel," Jones said. "He knows who can do what, what each person's strengths are, and that helps. With that, you don't take a step back. You stay on the same track, so it's a big plus that he's still here."

The return of fellow wideout Denarius Moore and veteran tight end Luke Stocker is a big plus, as well. Moore caught 40 passes for 540 yards and led the team with 7 touchdown grabs last fall. Stocker added 29 receptions for 389 yards and 5 TDs. Their availability will help keep foes from focusing too much attention on Jones, who led the Vols in receptions (46), receiving yards (680) and yards per catch (14.8) last fall.

"Having Denarius and Luke back helps big-time," Jones said. "It takes a lot of pressure off. Luke brings a lot of intensity, Denarius is a big threat down deep and I can beat you underneath, so that's a big help."

Given all of the disappointments he has encountered - on the field and off - during his first three years in the program, Jones' positive energy and team spirit make him a terrific role model for his teammates.

"I lead by example pretty much," he said. "I just do what I can for the team, and hopefully my guys will follow. They expect me to do the right thing. They're not wanting me to be verbal but they want me to continue to do the right thing, so my teammates will follow."


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