Thursday Spring Practice Report

The 2003 edition of the Tennessee Volunteers, well most of ‘em anyway, opened the 2003 Spring Practice in Neyland Stadium this afternoon. The team also elected captains and the result was somewhat surprising to all.

It was a cold, breezy afternoon in Neyland and I was without a jacket, which made it all the more enjoyable. When Coach Phillip Fulmer walked over following practice, I forgot about the wind and turned my attention to the 2003 team captains. The results were a little surprising.

By vote and coach approval, the team selected Seniors-to-be Casey Clausen, Rashad Baker, Scott Wells, Constantin Ritzmann and Juniors-to-be Kevin Burnett and Michael Munoz. This will be the first time since 1944 that the Vols will be led by juniors in the captain spot. Coach Fulmer said it spoke volumes of those two guys that their teammates looked over their paper status eligibility speaking.

As for practice, Chris Hannon and Derrick Tinsley were on fire. Hannon made some key grabs and Derrick Tinsley was a playmaker all day long.

Hannon beat Shannon Benton deep on a couple of plays and made a great turnaround catch on Gibril Wilson. Hannon has always been applauded for his hands by coaches and teammates for the last year, so this could be the beginning of him establishing himself as a force in the receiving corp. Of course this is the first day of spring practice in March, so I could just be overhyping.

Tinsley has improved his ability to beat man coverage. That seemed to be a problem last season, but it definitely shows he has gotten his burst off the line much better. Tinsley caught a couple of nice deep balls from Clausen and James Banks.

Speaking of Mr. Banks. All I heard at media interviews was how he would play 100 percent quarterback, yet he might one of the best plays of the day at wide receiver. James beat his corner of the line and made a great diving 30-yard catch. You figure it out.

Kevin Burnett (see tonight's Practice Player Profile) was all over the field. Remember KB is "limited" when the defense went into team drills, John Chavis made him get off the field ... sort of. That's all I am telling you. Story will be up in a few.

Constantin Ritzmann was back and going strong. He told me that he felt about 85 percent, but I think his 85 percent now might be better than 100 percent last season just by watching him today.

Mark Jones first day went well at wide out. He made some nice athletic plays, but it is clear that he needs to the summer to work with Clausen learning to play receiver in the SEC better.

JUCO quarterback Brett Weyman seemed to be very impressed with Neyland Stadium and the entire atmosphere that the University of Tennessee has.

The Vols will practice on Friday and Saturday afternoons on Haslam Field.

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