Wideout warning

Wide receiver probably will be the most improved position on Tennessee's football team this fall.

Seniors Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore are coming off injury-plagued 2009 seasons, yet they still ranked 1-2 in receptions last fall with 46 and 40, respectively. Jones led the team in yards-per-catch average (14.8) and Moore in receiving touchdowns (7).

Although Jones is sidelined by a sprained ankle at the moment, he and Moore appear primed for big years in 2010.

"I'm excited about coaching those two guys and bringing out even better things from them," first-year receivers coach Charlie Baggett said recently. "It's been very exciting for me to have a chance to work with veteran guys who have been around for a while, and I'm excited about what I can help them get better at."

Also back from the 2009 receiving corps are sophomores Marsalis Teague (13 catches, 147 yards, 2 TDs) and Zach Rogers (3 catches, 19 yards). They're joined this spring by mid-term freshmen Matt Milton (6-5, 207 pounds) and Ted Meline (6-2, 172). Both reportedly have shown some flashes in practice and scrimmages.

"The receivers are coming along real good," Teague said, "Our young guys are really stepping up. They're starting to get the hang of things, find their groove. We did lose one of our main guys in G-Jones but things are looking good."

They're looking even better if you count the return of senior tight end Luke Stocker. The 6-6, 250-pounder caught 29 passes last fall, averaged 13.4 yards per catch and produced 5 TDs. He's so versatile that he'll line up as a wide receiver at times.

Matt Simms, a junior college transfer who projects to be UT's No. 1 quarterback this fall, feels truly blessed to have targets the caliber of Jones, Moore and Stocker.

"It definitely helps knowing they're there," he said. "They're unbelievable talents - all three of them - and they know a lot of the situations from years past, so I'll definitely be looking to them for advice and stuff."

Simms believes there are some good players behind the three seniors. He thinks all of the wideouts are having good springs.

"They're doing very well," he said. "There's a lot of talent, definitely a lot of talent. They show a lot of effort and they're very disciplined. They've made a huge improvement from Week 1 (of spring ball). I think they have a good future."

Although Tennessee is incorporating a new offensive system this year, the pass catchers reportedly are picking it up reasonably well.

"We have a lot more timing routes this year and we have more adjustments to make while we're running our routes," Teague said. "All in all, though, it's about the same."


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